2023 was a transformative year where the tech landscape experienced unprecedented advancements, which are reshaping just about every aspect of how we live, work, socialize, and play. We saw generative AI burst into the mainstream, and while small business owners are optimistic about the potential benefits, most are concerned that AI development and adoption are outpacing education and regulation, according to a recent Xero report.
To best prepare for what’s to come, small businesses and their advisors must account for the opportunities and challenges this tech evolution presents. As we begin 2024, here are some of the emerging technologies I see most impacting the small business landscape:
AI Solutions Can Power Creativity
Language learning models and artificial intelligence are not new concepts to the business world. The interactivity and accessibility of these tools, as seen over the past year, have propelled business and individual capabilities to levels never seen before. We’ve likely only scratched the surface.
More practical applications will likely emerge over the next few years relative to creative content, generative design, and engineering. This will be incredibly influential as current generative AI capabilities create content from previously existing work, which bases solutions and content on a library of past content rather than fresh or unique concepts.
This year, generative AI capabilities could extend beyond just predictions and statistics, unleashing an era of innovation that could be applied to more creative-based projects and research. AI would work hand in hand with creators to co-develop ideas and design options, enabling them to expand their thinking on these sorts of projects.
To reach this collaboration level, prompt engineering will remain a critical element for business leaders to consider, in addition to navigating existing challenges and potential new legislation around misinformation, copyright, and bias.
As the AI landscape continues to evolve, business leaders must be proactive in navigating not only the technological aspects but also the legal and ethical concepts associated with the growing influence of AI.
Potential Within the Metaverse
Twenty years ago, people would talk about virtual reality as if it were some sort of futuristic, unimaginable concept. Today, this “far-fetched” idea is closer to reality than we ever could have thought.
One prime example is the metaverse, particularly in augmented and virtual reality, which has seen significant investments from large companies (such as Apple and Meta). While the current level of funding and innovation may not be enough to power the metaverse into reaching its full potential in 2024, it will likely have notable implications when businesses look to provide an immersive and connected experience across – especially in areas like entertainment and education.
The metaverse also has the power to introduce new concepts regarding ownership of digital assets, which will continue to evolve in 2024, given how we’ve prematurely seen some small businesses explore and innovate within this space recently.
While internet connectivity was once the hold-back for expansion in this space, battery technology has emerged as an alternative for powering success. As battery technology continues to evolve, we’ll see the development of lighter, cheaper, and more efficient batteries, which will power more immersive reality experiences in our day-to-day lives.
As we reflect on the potential transformation of the metaverse in 2024, it becomes clear that the once-distant vision of virtual reality is not only within reach but is positioned to redefine how business leaders interact with the world.
The Rise of the Super Ecosystem
The interconnection of traditional and emerging entities in the payments ecosystem enables a transformative era in the digital payment experiences for small businesses. In today’s landscape, this synergy allows for real-time validation of e-invoices to ensure compliance with government regulations and tax requirements. Simultaneously, it also allows small businesses to send and receive payments digitally, which helps to alleviate some of the pain points associated with late payments. This integration enables a more seamless and secure data exchange between financial institutions and third-party providers, providing instant and real-time access to financial information.
In the new year, global tech entities like Apple and Google will likely continue to seek opportunities to enhance the collaboration of their products with others on the market. The primary goal is to simplify the customer experience and establish a unified platform for collecting and sorting information. With this, I anticipate the rise of the “super ecosystem,” which will help to connect the world of financial services, streamlining processes for transferring money, paying bills, and overall managing finances. The average person has 80 apps installed on their phones, so finding ways to connect applicable products can help simplify the user experience and make for more satisfied customers.
Are You Ready?
Whether or not you’re ready for it, the tech-enabled future is here. To stay innovative and prevent being beaten out by competitors in the market, small businesses should remain up-to-date on the latest developments and trends shaping the future of the business world.