Small business tech expert Shawn DuBravac advises that leveraging technology is a must, but that each investment should be carefully evaluated on an individual basis.

If there's anyone who knows what the future of small business holds, it's Shawn DuBravac. His New York Times Best Seller, "Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live and Communicate" (Regnery, 2015), looks at how the global adoption of digital technologies is ushering in a new era for humanity, especially in the world of business.

As a futurist and trendcaster, DuBravac studies disruptive technological shifts to predict how they will impact the daily lives of individuals and organizations. He's also an entrepreneur himself, providing consulting, research and advisory services to other businesses through his firm, Astra Insights.

To help today's small business owners understand what tomorrow holds, CO— interviewed DuBravac about the technology trends changing the business world, and how to take advantage of those trends.

Look for embedded technologies

Small business owners need to invest in emerging technologies if they want to keep up with their larger competitors. They don't need to build their own solutions from scratch, though – there are plenty of affordable, ready-to-use options on the market that allow businesses of all sizes to leverage technology like AI and machine learning.

"Artificial intelligence [is] embedded in the offerings that they're already buying," said DuBravac, citing spam filters as an example of embedded AI. "[Use] the offerings that already out there from large software providers."

Carefully assess your technology investments

When it comes to technology, there's always the risk that the product you invested so heavily in will quickly become obsolete.

DuBravac acknowledged that this is a fine balance, and said small businesses need to assess each new tech investment on an individual basis. From there, they can make a calculated decision about which technologies are most likely to reach mass market adoption and benefit their business in the long run.

"Small businesses ... need to be exploring and experimenting with these new technologies," he said. "They should allocate some of their budget to some of these emerging technologies so [they can] be on the cutting edge."

Small businesses have to take an innovator's mindset.

Shawn DuBravac, small business expert and author of "Digital Destiny"

Keep reinventing yourself to stay competitive

Small businesses, especially those in technology and e-commerce, often fear that corporate giants like Amazon will eventually put them out of business. However, in a world of constant innovation, everything can be redesigned and redefined, said DuBravac.

"It's important that small businesses constantly innovate and re-innovate their organization, from ... what they're offering their customers, to their value proposition, to how they're treating their employees," he said.

Innovation can also come in the form of leveraging the power of large corporations. If your business doesn't have the resources to create its own cutting-edge solutions, DuBravac advised partnering with a company like Amazon "to bring the best-in-class ... experience to [your] customers."

Measure your efforts

As with all business initiatives, it's essential to understand exactly where your money is going and what the return on your tech investments are. You can assess this by paying attention to the right metrics and using that data to inform your strategy.

"We ... [now] have the ability to measure [and] monitor all of this information, and we can do it with a level of precision that was never available to small business owners in the past," DuBravac told CO—. "Every small business should ... look at the metrics that are available to them, and ... make better-informed decisions based on that information."

Adopt an innovator's mindset

Overall, DuBravac believes the future for small business is extremely bright. There have been countless technological changes over time, especially in recent years, and it will only continue to evolve, he said.

"Small businesses have to take an innovator's mindset," he added. "They have to constantly reinvent themselves ... to carve out [their] position ... in the marketplace."

As long as you are keeping up with what's happening in the world and adjusting your strategy accordingly, said DuBravac, "there is a tremendous opportunity for small businesses today and long into the future."

Check out the full interview with Shawn DuBravac and C-Suite Network's Gregg Greenberg for more insight on the future of small business technology.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Shawn DuBravac interviewed by C-Suite Network's Gregg Greenberg.
Published February 28, 2019