Lately there’s been a great deal of research into the ways that technology is shaping the lives of young people. The jury is still out on whether or not it’s for better or for worse, but everyone agrees that having constant electronic contact will undoubtedly have a tremendous effect on so-called Gen Zers.

Technology isn’t just having a huge impact on the lives of young people, though. It’s also changing the ways in which we do business. Just like the kid who gets left behind by his friends because he doesn’t have a cell phone, you want to make sure that you aren’t the company that gets left in the dust because you can’t keep up with your competitors. Here are some ways that technology can change the way you do business.

1. Communication

A team that works together works harder. This is nothing new, but the ways in which teams can work together have grown tremendously over the past decade. Where Microsoft’s Office suite once dominated the landscape of corporate software, Google’s free Docs suite is making a strong case to be its replacement. What I like most about Google’s alternative is that you can share documents between users in real time. That means I can be on a call with a client, sharing a spreadsheet detailing our work for them this month and—what’s that? There’s a typo in cell A4? I can just fix that up in a jiffy before the client even notices.

Beyond Docs there are also a lot of great tools to help your team communicate. Programs like Evernote and OneNote can help make sure that everyone is on the same page with best practices, and they stay on the same page as those practices evolve. Tools like Slack and Google Chat can help teams coordinate over a network. This ends up being especially useful when we start talking about…

2. Working Remotely

It’s becoming clearer and clearer these days that employees don’t function their best when they’re stuffed into cubicles for 9 hours a day. One approach that’s becoming more popular is to offer employees the option of working remotely on their own schedules. This enables your team to work from home, the library, or even a sunny beach at times that work best for them.

As with all things business, it’s a good idea to train your team beforehand and give them some tips for working remotely. This will make the transition much easier. You can also ease into it by offering proven employees the option to work remotely for some number of days each week or month.

3. Digital Security

With more and more documents being created or translated to electronic form it’s natural to wonder about security. You might think “are my account sheets really as safe online as they would be in a lockbox in my office?”

I think you’ll find that the answer is yes! The fact of the matter is that the greatest dangers to your digital security are the very same dangers that you face with hard copies. Namely, employee error. A survey conducted by the University of Alabama discovered that 82% of digital security threats experienced by large companies were caused by staff.

Once you know the problem, though, fixing it is as simple as educating your employees on the basics of digital security. Advise them against opening email attachments from people who they are not familiar with while using company computers, make sure that your staff can identify and avoid websites of questionable intent or quality, and store sensitive information on a separate network than the one you make available for guests.

4. Real-World Security

Not every tech tip has to do with cyberspace. Sometimes technology can help you keep track of your real world assets, as is the case with the modern security camera. Despite their Hollywood reputation for being deceived through clever hacking and grainy image quality, today’s security cameras are actually remarkably accurate and immune to tampering. A solid camera network can be essential to locking down your office, warehouse, or event site. Plus, if you’re lucky you might get some great footage for YouTube.

These days a PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera should cover most of your needs, since such cameras can cover a wide area in a high quality.

5. SEO & Social Media

Whether your domain is B2B or B2C, it’s hard to avoid having an internet presence these days. If you’re B2B you can use social media to reach out to other people in your field, get involved in conferences, and even host webinars on your expertise.

The benefits for B2B companies are fairly obvious, and I’m sure many of you already make use of social media to get your product out there. Just make sure that you’ve got your finger on the pulse of Twitter so that you can avoid some of the epic bungles in corporate Twitter history.

Chatting it up with customers on Twitter and Facebook isn’t all that there is to having an internet presence, though. For better or worse, Google rules the web right now and doing well on the internet means ranking highly in Google searches for terms related to your product. The process of getting there is called search engine optimization (or SEO).

Although reading an SEO manual can sometimes feel like flipping through an arcane spellbook, the importance of good SEO can’t be overstated. When potential clients do a Google search one of two things will definitely happen. Either they’ll see and click on your website or they’ll go to someone else’s.

While there’s no one-step fix for SEO, here’s a great list of SEO musts to check your website against.

There’s no two ways about it. Using technology wisely can help your business make huge leaps in productivity. Plus, if you’re not hopping aboard the technology train, you can be sure that your competitors will. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

Nick CesareAuthor: Nick Cesare is an SEO expert. When he’s not getting into the mind of Google he likes to cook and go mountain biking. You can reach Nick @cesare_nick.

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