Advances in technology are constantly progressing, and it’s important for any responsible business owner to periodically check in with how that progress might affect their business.
This review is sometimes referred to as ‘horizon scanning’. This task can be performed to assess risks, but also to recognise opportunities. These risks and opportunities are something I’m going to talk about now, particularly for small business owners.
So, What’s Out There on Today’s Horizon?
Well, there is a lot of new tech jargon which floats around these days: the metaverse, no-code, web 3.0, blockchain technology and NFTs, to name a few. With all this obscure terminology, it can often feel like those without first-hand experience in IT services and who aren’t confronted with these terms on a regular basis have little to use or learn from their concepts. But, this is simply not the case.
When it comes to technology - what is new and shiny today, will be commonplace tomorrow, and it’s important to consider how these changes could affect the fundamental ways in which people (your customers), society, culture and the economy respond to them. As such, learning what these concepts are is sound advice, regardless of your industry.
Let’s Look at a Practical and Historical Example:
Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan is famous for his statement that ‘the medium is the message’. This is to say that any introduction and widespread adoption of technology will fundamentally alter how we as humans participate with the world, no matter the subject.
An example he often spoke about was the process of automation in the car manufacturing industry. First came the conveyer belt and the assembly line, then the robotic arm. In McLuhan’s statement, these are the ‘mediums’. These technological changes had huge impacts on the human element, not only in car manufacturing but in all large-scale production businesses since. These impacts reduced the need for employees in the warehouse constructing cars but instead required software engineers to programme the robotics. Thus, the ‘message’ in this scenario is that robotic automation changes the priorities in the labour market which has knock-on effects in education (when students decide what to train in), economics (as commodities become cheaper) and so forth.
What’s a Current Example for My Business?
One such area of technology which has begun to slowly transition into the wider consumer market is ‘no-code’.
This umbrella term can point towards a lot of different products and services, but they all carry the same principle for a technological revolution. Some areas of development were once restricted to a sphere of well-experienced web developers with years of experience, but now these avenues are being opened to the everyday entrepreneur. This means that websites, apps, shops, workflows, customer service platforms, workbooks, training courses and much, much more are all build-able without any prior coding experience. This is possible thanks to services which have cut away all the necessities and complexities of coding for the end-user. Instead, they can choose to focus on the essential ideation of their business through simple methods, such as dragging and dropping components, to build most kinds of applications.
This represents a fundamental change in the landscape of digital development, as making an application has never been more in the hands of the individual:
- Because coding expertise is no longer required, a minimal amount of training is needed to understand services that are designed to be as intuitive as possible.
- Costs are lower as in-house, non-programmers are able to achieve most of the basic functionality to create and maintain software applications.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an increasing demand on IT professionals in the last few years. Automating and organising common processes can save hours of admin and free up time that can be better spent developing higher expertise, enterprise-wide systems.
‘Almost every organization today needs more system development talent. Low-code/No-code development isn’t a panacea, but it can address some of these resource shortages.’  With the building blocks of software creation increasingly in the hands of creatives, especially those in smaller teams, we will be seeing a lot of new, innovative approaches to business development online in the coming years.
If these topics about horizon scanning, developing software applications and digital development interested you, our workshop on Creating A Website That Delights Your Customers may be your next best step!
Join the Digital Pathfinders team on July 14th at the Macdonald Linden Hall Golf and Country Club to find out more about website design, user research, improving customer experience whilst lowering costs, and more! Sign up here.