There have been many significant advances in business technology this century, almost all enabled by the internet, ubiquitous broadband, improved software development tools, the scalability and reliability of data centers, and artificial intelligence.
Here are some technological advancements that have significantly impacted how businesses operate and how business users interact with prospects and customers.
Author’s note: This added section on artificial intelligence was written by ChatGPT and edited with Grammarly Pro. The section’s image was created with Midjourney. The other sections below were all written by a human.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been one of the most significant advances in business technology in recent years. AI systems can learn and adapt, making them practical tools for businesses seeking a competitive edge.
Some critical applications of AI in business include customer service, marketing, and supply chain management. AI-powered chatbots can help businesses provide instant customer service, while AI algorithms can analyze customer data to provide personalized marketing recommendations.
AI can help optimize inventory management and streamline logistics in the supply chain, improving efficiency and cost savings.
Another important application of AI in business is predictive analytics. By analyzing large amounts of data, AI algorithms can help businesses predict future trends and make more informed decisions.
For example, a retailer might use predictive analytics to forecast demand for certain products, allowing them to stock up on popular items and avoid excess inventory of slow-moving products.
In the finance industry, AI-powered algorithms can analyze market data and make investment recommendations based on predicted future trends.
Overall, AI has the potential to revolutionize the way businesses operate, leading to greater efficiency, improved decision-making, and, ultimately, increased profitability.
Business Management Applications
With the introduction of its CRM platform in 1999, Salesforce began to popularize the concept of cloud-based, multi-tenant business applications.
Since the Salesforce launch, many other business management categories have followed suit, including ERP, marketing automation, professional services automation, human resource management, and more.
Email and Office Applications
For many businesses, Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365 have eliminated the need for an in-house email server and even a desktop computer email client — although many employees still prefer to use a desktop email client.
While desktop spreadsheet, document, and presentation applications are still more robust than their cloud counterparts for specific needs, the latter are continually improving.
Due to robust APIs and the absence of corporate firewalls, integration among cloud-based applications can be just a few clicks away with applications like Zapier.
Vendors such as TIBCO, MuleSoft (part of Salesforce), and Boomi are seeing extensive enterprise adoption.
The transition from “live human” customer service to comprehensive self-service has been bumpy.
For years, online self-service left a lot to be desired. However, customers can quickly address their questions and concerns online between dedicated support applications such as Zendesk, FreshDesk, and Zoho Desk.
Customer Satisfaction Software
Applications such as TrustMary and Qualtrix have allowed software developers to enhance the end-user experience based on what they think customers need and what customers say they want.
The rapid growth in the usage of applications such as Zoom and Google Meet has provided more salespeople and customer support representatives with an easy way to communicate with prospects and customers visually.
There’s an AI for this: tl;dv calls itself “The meeting recorder to understand & champion your users’ needs.”
Cisco WebEx and GoToWebinar were the early webinar applications. BrightTALK created a webinar platform to spread content through a community-based approach.
New solutions such as Demio and Livestorm have emerged in recent years. Kinsta has authored an excellent summary of available webinar apps.
Brands such as RingCentral and 8×8 have disrupted the traditional concept of a business phone system. Most businesses have moved from landlines to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). There are several differences between these two technologies.
Microsoft Office 365 shops have embraced Microsoft Teams Phone. Google Workspace users have access to Google Voice as a paid option.
There’s an AI for this: Simplephones can answer a phone number you assign, provide customized prompts, and then route calls appropriately.
Business Intelligence and Analytics
The options for reporting on data from various sources have grown significantly this century.
Business Intelligence also moved down from the enterprise to the mid-market and even to small businesses. Microsoft Power BI, Salesforce Tableau, and QlikSense are popular offerings.
Mobile apps for business users have proliferated. Now, business users can use mobile apps to access a CRM system, view or update shared documents, make and receive phone calls via their organization’s IP phone system, participate in web conferences, and more.
Content Management Systems
After the first website was launched in 1991, company websites were hand-coded for several years.
Businesses of all sizes can easily modify most content without hiring a web developer. However, web design specialists still have a place, as these platforms can be extended in various ways.
Video & Audio Hosting
Business use of Internet video has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 15 years. Many companies are making YouTube, Vimeo, Vidyard, and Wistia an essential part of their sales, marketing, and training strategies.
There’s an AI for this: Synthesia lets you create videos from plain text and uses synthetic avatars.
Podcast shows represent episodic audio content. Shows are hosted on sites like Libsyn and Podbean. Episodes are distributed on platforms like Apple iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify.
Non-episodic content can be hosted on SoundCloud and used as a component of a marketing strategy.
While not all companies benefit to a measurable degree by having a presence on social media networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Pinterest. However, many companies generate awareness for their product or service using one or more of these platforms.
Audience engagement on these platforms is critical to company success for certain companies.
E-commerce has come a long way since the first legitimate online transaction happened in 1994. It’s easier than ever for businesses to set up shop online.
Shopify and Magento are leading standalone platforms. CMS-integrated platforms include WooCommerce for WordPress, Wix eCommerce, and SquareSpace commerce.
On-premises computing is still alive and well, but the days of IT staff having to spin up a separate physical server for every application are waning.
IT departments have managed multiple servers more efficiently and with fewer physical resources through server virtualization with products such as VMWare vSphere, Citrix Hypervisor, and Microsoft Hyper-V. With virtualization software, hosting providers can also provision servers more economically.
Remember that it’s as essential to secure your network’s virtual servers as it is to secure physical servers.
Business technology is an ever-changing landscape. New vendors constantly emerge within existing categories.
The 2023 “gold rush” is AI apps.
Startups also invent new categories and tools that creatively help people manage information and collaborate within organizations.