Published

September 16, 2021

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Key Takeaways

  • Technology-based industries and businesses create tremendous growth and opportunity in the U.S. economy and are essential to competing in an interconnected world.
  • Keeping up with long-term trends in cybersecurity, data privacy, and software and hardware innovation is integral to running a successful business.
  • Some of the technologies businesses use for remote work and e-commerce will continue to stay relevant long after the pandemic is over.

Technology forms the backbone of a strong business, playing an important role in everything from transactions to customer support to marketing. Everything from the way consumers find and purchase products and services to the way businesses market and ship their wares is influenced by new technologies. Technology-based industries and businesses create tremendous growth and opportunity in the U.S. economy and are essential to competing in an interconnected world.

Business technology is a fast-moving field with new products and services appearing nearly every month. However, keeping up with long-term trends in cybersecurity, data privacy, and software and hardware innovation is integral to running a successful business. Here are some important core business technologies and concepts that business owners need to know.

Cybersecurity and data privacy

Cyber attacks are a constant threat to businesses around the world. Ransomware is an increasingly popular tool used by hackers to infiltrate systems and hold information for ransom.

Ransomware attacks have shut down businesses across America in numerous high-profile cases in 2021. In June, hackers targeted multinational meat manufacturer JBS S.A. In May, a hospital in San Diego and Colonial Pipeline were both victims of ransomware attacks. Some experts estimate that there were 65,000 successful breaches in 2020.

Ransomware is far from the only cybersecurity priority. Addressing growing cyber threats against American and global businesses is a top priority for C-suite executives and boards of major American companies. This is a global challenge that transcends borders and requires effective collaboration — at the operational level — between governments and businesses

There are a number of ways businesses can mitigate the risk of ransomware, from keeping software up to date to conducting awareness training to requiring multi-factor authentication for user logins.

Though cybersecurity and data privacy are often used interchangeably, when it comes to protecting information, these are two different areas. Data privacy refers to how personal data is collected, used, and shared. Most sophisticated companies will provide notice to consumers about their privacy practices and rights. From credit card numbers to addresses to phone numbers, businesses typically collect and store a variety of customer data. It’s up to the business to protect this data using identity and access management tools, only collecting data necessary, and using tools to scan for vulnerabilities and security weaknesses.

Hardware

Businesses need a number of different pieces of technology to function successfully. Modern business technology includes a point-of-sale (and/or mobile point-of-sale), webcams and headsets for remote workers, digital menus for restaurants, or a business phone service with things like automated answering or mobile twinning. Some businesses outsource IT, working with third-party vendors to store data offsite or run a calling center rather than invest in VoIP.

Software

Cloud technology is the leading innovation in business software. Cloud technology is when a tool, platform, or storage service is hosted on remote servers and accessed via the internet. It is usually maintained and operated by a third party. Slack, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive are all examples of cloud-based products.

Software as a service (SaaS) is one of the three subcategories of cloud computing, and it’s also extremely common. SaaS is a software licensing and distribution method that allows users to access data from any device with an internet connection. The right SaaS tech can help your business eliminate manual tasks and save money over time.

Lastly, digital platforms — such as Facebook or Instagram — have proven pivotal in the way companies do business. One national business survey found that the use of digital platforms by enterprises is ubiquitous:

  • 84% of small enterprises are using at least one major digital platform to provide information to customers;
  • 80% are using at least one major platform to show products and services, as well as to advertise;
  • 79% are using digital tools to communicate with customers and suppliers; and
  • 75% are using tech platforms for sales.

Naturally, big enterprises are adopting digital marketing at similar, if not higher rates. Some big brands are even going further, implementing blockchain technology into their operations.

Blockchain technology

One of the newest technologies on the market today is blockchain. While blockchain technology has been on the rise for more than a decade, businesses of all sizes are starting to pay more attention.  

Blockchain technology, in its most basic form, serves as a distributed digital ledger. With each ledger serving as a permanent record of sorts, some businesses have embraced this as a way to show how products are sourced. Customers can trust that where the product comes from is authentic because blockchain technology tracks the goods.

Blockchain, of course, also hosts cryptocurrencies. Large companies such as AT&T, Microsoft, Overstock, and Tesla have all begun to accept Bitcoin and other digital currencies as payment.

Emerging technology

Technology changes rapidly, and the pandemic has already brought new innovations. Many in the tech community are already using big data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) to help mitigate the impacts of the pandemic. For example, AI is already enabling remote delivery of goods and helping companies with contract tracing as employees return to the office, in addition to various other applications. Some of the technologies businesses used to adapt and pivot to remote work and e-commerce will continue to stay relevant long after the recovery period is over.

Stay up to date on technology and cybersecurity news by visiting our Technology and Security and Resilience pages.