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How 2020 made business tech better

Exploring the bright spots of a difficult year

To kick off the new year, we wanted to take some time to talk about the various innovations and strategic shifts in the world of technology that occurred in 2020.

Although COVID cost all of us a great deal, it also incentivised many positive changes and upgrades to existing technologies to make them better than ever before. These changes already have, and will continue to impact business in some really great ways. There are too many to cover in just one Tech Factor article, so we’ll begin with 3 of the big ones that we think all small businesses should know about.



Digital and Cryptocurrencies:

The first topic on our list is Digital and Cryptocurrencies. 2020 saw an increase in acceptance of these, which could affect business in a big way. Owners of businesses large and small would be wise to be aware of this due to the growing applicability of these currencies.


Unlike Cryptocurrency which are relatively unregulated and decentralized, Digital Currencies are created and controlled by a specific organization or group of people. For example, Facebook unveiled their digital currency called “Libra”, and the People’s Bank of China has accelerated plans to launch a digital currency as well.


AT&T, Microsoft, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, and many other American companies have been accepting Bitcoin for years. In October of 2020, Paypal began accepting Bitcoin, the most popular and valuable Cryptocurrency which currently exchanges at $34,373.70 USD per Bitcoin at the time of this posting. This has made it easier than ever before for anyone to exchange Bitcoin for USD. In fact, 36% of small to mid-sized American businesses accept some kind of digital or cryptocurrency.


With greater acceptance by governments and private companies, digital currencies are a more stable investment than ever before and are only growing in legitimacy. Recognizing this will put your company at the forefront of the digital economy.



Remote Work Platforms


The challenges of 2020 presented businesses with never before seen obstacles. Many remote work platforms, which were previously seen as superfluous, gained overnight relevance. With that, much of the stigma attached to being a virtual company has been eliminated and having an office space is no longer the sole indicator of company status.


In fact, Facebook, Twitter, and many other established office-based companies are allowing employees to work from home permanently. Many new businesses may also be founded virtually from the start, helping them reduce overhead and become profitable more quickly. These decisions stem from remote work platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams gaining greater support from their developers, making them strong alternatives for in person work.


An element that could present moving forward, and provide opportunities for small businesses, is how our communities will change based on the at home movement. More people working from home may result in changes to how houses are designed, and neighborhoods are planned. Look out for ways your company could benefit from the changing work environment and possibly even find new business.



Online Learning


With the closing of schools and colleges, many workers have been laid off and are in need of new skills. Online learning services like Pluralsight, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning have experienced an enormous bump in users seeking to develop expertise.


So what is the difference between these platforms? Each platform takes a different approach to providing course content and evaluating users. Pluralsight hires industry workers to create long form courses about topics within their field, charging a monthly membership that starts at $29 / month. LinkedIn Learning provides students with certifications that connect to their profile as they complete courses and can improve their hireability. Finally, Udemy sells individual courses to students, allowing them to only pay for what they want to learn. Each of these platforms provides opportunities to learn technical skills at a highly cost-efficient rate.


As conventional educational institutions continue to weaken, online learning alternatives will only grow in credibility. Due to their highly cost-effective nature, skilled labor can be trained for much less money, which means fewer employees in debt and lower costs of living. This, of course, lowers the cost of doing business as a result. Look out for potential employees with these certifications and how they could aid your company, and be open to using these services to train current employees to take on new responsibilities.



Takeaways

We all can agree that 2020 was a year of challenges both big and small, but despite these setbacks, there was good that came from everything. Internet Infrastructure was stress-tested in a way never before seen, and it passed with flying colors.


Between digital currency, virtual work platforms, and the growing usage of online education, virtual business received an unprecedented boost in legitimacy. This can be beneficial for both new and established businesses alike. These technologies are already reducing overhead for companies across the world, and the elimination of the stigma attached to being a virtual business means that remote businesses may find it easier to attract remote clients.

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