From Artificial Intelligence to Augmented Reality, the current deluge of technological developments is unavoidable.

As a result, businesses are having to change the way they operate. Everything, from daily operational tasks to the way they interact with customers, is affected in some way.

Keeping up with technological advances

Many businesses recognise the huge impact technology is having. In a new Confederation of British Industry (CBI) report, half of all the businesses surveyed believe AI will fundamentally transform their industry.

In response to such changes, the report concluded that “technologies like cloud which were seen as niche just a few years ago have matured to now underpin much of the UK business infrastructure.”

But not everyone is ready to wholeheartedly embrace the changes. While 33% of the businesses questioned in the CBI survey saw themselves as digital pioneers, 27% viewed themselves as followers.

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Some retailers like Ikea are pioneers in this area. They began using augmented reality to let customers try out new furniture in their home back in 2013. The retail experience is changing, so you need to offer customers something that sets you apart.

Adopting cloud computing makes sense at such times because it helps you get around some of the reasons people might be reluctant to embrace new technology.

Introducing new infrastructure is costly but cloud computing has minimal setup costs. It is quick to get up and running, so you don’t have to wait to access the latest technology. Plus, as technology moves on to the next big thing – you can scale the cloud’s capabilities to keep up.

Having the ability to adopt new technology and use it to solve problems for your customers can give you a competitive advantage. In an article in Wired magazine, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley said: “…as we prepare to leave the European Union, the UK’s global competitiveness will increasingly depend on not only a vibrant digital sector but also on all our businesses using the best digital technology and data to drive innovation and productivity.”

Data – the challenges and opportunities

The secretary of state touched on one of the cornerstones of technological advancement – data. We haven’t even come close to unlocking the full potential hidden in the data we are all generating. Least of all because there is a shortage of workers with the skills to interpret the data.

Airbnb has responded by setting up its own Data University, so all its employees can become data literate. In doing so, they are addressing the skills shortage but also helping overcome another problem – the cultural shift that’s necessary to make the most of data within organisations. A critical analysis of big data challenges published in the Journal of Business Research this year said “aligning the people, technology, and organisational resources to become a data-driven company is problematic.”

Since launching their university in Q3 of 2016, Airbnb has reportedly gone from having 30% of their employees use their internal data science tools to 45%. They refer to data as “the voice of our users at scale”. They are using data in all manner of ways from increasing diversity within their workforce to delivering personalised, targeted and actionable insights to their hosts.

One of the points they highlight is the importance of having a “stable, reliable, and scalable” data infrastructure.

If you don’t have the systems in the place to handle your data, then you can’t benefit from all it has to offer. Cloud-based software allows businesses to use their data without making massive changes, or employing a huge workforce to interpret it. It can help you store, process and even analyse data from multiple sources within your business.

Operating in an agile way

You may not want or need to adopt every technological change but you should certainly be in a position to quickly and easily test it out should you wish to.

That’s another reason why cloud computing is appealing. It enables you to operate an agile business. If you decide to prototype a new idea, it can support you in doing so, without the risk or cost involved in investing in massive infrastructure changes.

Adopting cloud computing

If you are part of a business that is still sitting on the sidelines, while others embrace technology, then adopting cloud based business management software can help prevent you from falling behind.