The new year is already in full swing – how are those resolutions going? If you’re looking for some new goals already, why not make 2018 the year you really invest in technology for your business? We’re not talking about buying some computers or getting a new security system. We’re talking about investing in the technology that’s going to revolutionize the way you do business. Here are five tech opportunities you need to consider this year.



1. It’s All About the Cloud



Are you tired of your files never being where you want them to be? Stop carrying around a pocket full of flash drives and look into cloud computing. The cloud lets you safely and easily store your files and data so that anyone in your organization can access them, wherever they are. Have an employee out sick? They can still log in when they’re feeling well enough and get a few things done. Need to travel? Your documents are all with you, no matter where you are. Businesses with multiple locations or numerous employees working remotely can really reap the benefits of cloud services. Give them a try and watch your productivity soar!



2. The Internet of Everything is Coming



There’s been a lot of buzz over the past year or so about the Internet of Things, or IoT. IoT represents advancements in technology that have put computing power in everything from our watches to our washing machines. These devices can now talk to our phones, our computers, and each other – the world is more interconnected than ever. For business owners, this opens up the possibility to learn more about your customers and to continuously engage with them throughout their lifecycle. Start researching ways you can leverage IoT in your business – you definitely don’t want to be the last one on this bandwagon.



3. Blockchain Isn’t Just for Bitcoin



You’ve probably heard quite a bit about blockchain technology over the past few months, and with good reason. Blockchain has already disrupted the financial services industry with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and is poised to do the same to countless other types of businesses. The security and flexibility of blockchain means you can be assured your transactions will be processed quickly and your data will be stored safely. Like IoT, this is an emerging technology that’s worth exploring now. Early adopters of blockchain tech will be happy they took the chance!



4. Don’t Ignore Analytics



IoT and other tech advancements mean we are swimming in data like never before. The key is figuring out how to use this data to your advantage. There are countless tools available to help you track everything from customer behavior on your website to complex and detailed demographic information. It’s time to start putting that data to work for you. Determine what questions your business most needs to answer about its customers and products, then find the tools that will help you dig in. You’ll be able to provide better, more targeted service to your customers at a lower cost.



5. Let’s Chat



When a customer visits your physical store, they are greeted by an employee who helps them find what they need and answers any questions they might have. How are you replicating that experience when they visit your website instead? The first step is to install a chat widget that lets customers ask questions and get help from a real person who is assigned to monitor the chat window. But that will quickly get cumbersome as your business grows, and that employee can put their skills to better use elsewhere. That’s where chatbots come in. Chatbots are automated helpers that can provide basic customer service to free up your team, track customer engagement, and even gather data about who is visiting your site and what they are looking for. You’ll be able to learn why people visit your site and can tailor your content to their specific needs. Plus, your customer service team will spend less time on the phone since customers will be able to answer basic questions themselves with the help of your chatbot.



Where Do I Start?



Not all of these suggestions will apply to your business, at least not right away, but each one deserves some research. Start taking baby steps by incorporating at least one of these ideas into your strategy this year, and watch your business grow. Speaking of new technology, the payments industry is also evolving at a rapid pace. Make sure your credit card processor is equipped to help you pivot with the changing times and that they will keep you updated on all the newest advancements. At 360 Payments, we pride ourselves on educating our customers about new technology that will help them process payments more efficiently. Give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website so we can show you what we mean.



PS – Learn how to survive and thrive in the sharing economy with these tips.



PPS – Credit card surcharge laws have been getting a lot of press recently. Here’s why that matters.