From biometrics monitoring to barcode inventory management, technology innovation is continually changing the rules of the game for today’s businesses; however, keeping pace with rapid innovation can be tricky for small companies.

Consider the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution that’s poised to hit $71 billion in 2018, according to growth projections.

Despite the expected progression, connecting your inventory to a digital warehouse may be low on the priority list if you’re still trying to implement an effective inventory tracking system.

As a solopreneur myself, I know how easy it can be to become immersed in one’s own industry or immediate sphere of influence.

What’s happening in another industry can feel like a world away; nevertheless, small businesses cannot afford to ignore the changing technology landscape.

Since small businesses are generally more agile than larger companies, innovation integration can also be accomplished faster and at a more affordable price point.

Small businesses that choose to adapt gain a critical competitive advantage in the marketplace.

“Small businesses can’t afford to ignore what’s just over the horizon,” says Waqaas Al-Siddiq, the CEO of Biotricity, a healthcare technology company innovating biometric monitoring.

Related Article: 5 Technology Trends That Have The Power to Change Your Business

“Maintaining a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace requires staying on top of technological advancements impacting not only your industry but others as well. Innovation doesn’t happen in isolation, it crosses industries. Virtual reality, for example, is poised to shake up the health care industry. The ability to spot these changes in advance will give businesses an edge.”

Is your small business keeping pace with the latest innovations? These are three of the biggest technology trends to watch in 2016:

Biometrics Monitoring 

From FitBits to Apple Watches, wearable tech exploded into the marketplace over the last year. A quarter of all consumers owns a fitness tracker and 38 percent plan to buy one in the next six months, according to the latest Adobe Digital Trends report.

While less than 20 percent of consumers have purchased a smartwatch, 37 percent of consumer’s report plans to buy one in the next six months. The proliferation of fitness wearables and smart watches creates new opportunities for biometrics monitoring, along with potential privacy concerns, too.

Biotricity, for example, is developing a medical grade health and lifestyle solution for monitoring ECG, respiration, calories burned, temperature, and physical activity.

As more devices combine medical data feedback with lifestyle logs and social media support, look for strategic partnership opportunities to leverage your business’s strengths with the growing need for data management, marketing and security.

Related Article: Into the Crystal Ball: 4 Online Marketing Predictions for 2016

Internet of Things (IoT) 

The Internet of Things (IoT) connects any physical device with an on/off switch, like air conditioners, coffee makers, and washing machines, to the Internet.

Small businesses that integrate IoT into their workplaces will be able to bolster operational efficiency and effectiveness. In the next five years, sensor technology will become incredibly important.

Sensors can be programmed to automatically share information in their environment with other connected devices. Security will also become a major concern.

With more data and more connectivity comes an increased risk for hacking and data loss. American Express Small Business Forum predicts that small businesses will need to take an aggressive stance towards tighter security.

Wireless Warehouse 

Business inventory accuracy is estimated at a meager 63 percent, according to System ID, an inventory, and warehouse management provider.

Worse, most small businesses rely on ad hoc solutions for inventory management that lack scalability. The wireless warehouse is more than just having a Wi-Fi network at your inventory storage center.

It’s a holistic approach for automating inventory processes that utilizes the latest barcode technology for company-wide product tracking, improving productivity and profitability.

As we move toward an interconnected future, expect the wireless warehouse to overlap with IoT, as companies rely on automatic point-of-sale notification to trigger purchase orders in the factory and shipment orders in the warehouse.

Related Article: 5 Emerging Business Trends You Should Know About

Bottom Line

Not all technology innovations are right for every small business. A new technology product should increase operations efficiency while minimizing production costs and time, even if there’s a short-term learning curve.

For example, biometric monitoring may be a natural fit for one business and not for another. Trading in your company fleet for driverless cars may still be in the very distant future.

Don’t force product integration if it’s not natural. Do, however, keep an open mind about how these technologies could help streamline operations, enhance customer satisfaction, and further your competitive edge in the marketplace.

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