Two Technologies That Will Seriously Affect Your Business in Two Years
John, a client of mine, is not sleeping nights. And I don’t blame him.
John’s business, which he has run with his two partners since the late 1970’s, produces prototypes. What are prototypes? Say you’re a manufacturer of machine parts and you come up with a new part idea. Before going into full blown manufacturing you’d like to create a “prototype” of the part to show to your customers and engineers and get their feedback. John’s company does this. He takes a design, inputs it into a complex computer program and, after days of chugging and churning, one of his five large prototype machines (each costing him six figures) spits out a plastic mold of the machine part. It’s been a great business for all these years. That is until 3-D printing came along.
And now John is awake at nights, trying to figure out a plan. Because new developments in 3-D printing will allow his customers to purchase “printers” for just a few thousand bucks and create whatever prototypes they want. A 3D-printer will “print” or make plastic models of just about anything. Staples and the UPS Store are now either selling them or providing 3D printing services. Today, they’re just a novelty. But in just a few years, 3-D printers will be used by consumers and businesses to “print”, on demand, everything from clothes to coffee cups, machine parts to tires, toys to firearms. It’s a technology that will change the way you do business. It will certainly change John’s. The good news for John is that he’s thinking about this now, not later.
What other technologies are coming that could have the same impact on your business over the next few years? There are many; too many for this short post. But let me indulge in another cool tech you’ll want to know about. And that’s Google Glass.
Google Glass is another technology that will impact your life and business. If you haven’t caught the buzz about this yet then be proud of yourself – it probably means you’re not a socially awkward geek with nothing better to do than read about a pair of glasses made by Google. Unfortunately, I don’t fall into that category. In fact, I not only read about this stuff but I got the opportunity to try out a pair when I was in San Francisco recently. And the product is way cool. The glasses project an image somewhere in front of you. You speak to them. They communicate (for now) with your smartphone (which, by coincidence is running Google’s Android operating system, surprise!). You say “Call Maria” or “Directions to Marcia’s house” or “Search Russell Crowe movies”. And it does. It takes photos and videos on command. It shows you real time data about anything.
How does this apply to your business? Think about your sales guy who needs to see an order history or look up a price for that customer while he’s sitting in their reception area. Think about the service tech who needs to review a workorder or submit a purchase request while on the roof of a customer’s house. Think about the name and company of that guy across the room at that cocktail party you’re at. You can’t remember and need to know if you both have any shared connections on LinkedIn. These are just a few examples.
3-D printing and Google Glass are real. They’re here. Sure, they’re not in mass production yet. And they’re not available for mass distribution. But they will be. Entire industries will crop up around 3-D printing. You’ll have the choice of buying them in any size, color and potential to use plastic, copper, cloth or metal. Other versions of Google Glass will come out of the woodwork, most not even made by Google. Thousands of Google Glass apps will be created to enable us to do things quicker and more profitably with just a quick command, a hand motion or a blink of our eye.
Smart business owners like my client John are always looking ahead. So look ahead! If you ignore what’s coming, your business will suffer.
Gene Marks is a columnist, author, and small business owner. He writes daily for The New York Times and weekly for Forbes, The Huffington Post, Inc Magazine, FOX Business, and Philadelphia Magazine. His columns are read by thousands of small and medium sized business owners around the country. Gene has also written five books on business management, specifically geared towards small and medium sized companies. Nationally, Gene frequently appears on, FOX News, Fox Business, Bloomberg, and CNBC discussing matters affecting the business community. Gene owns and operates the Marks Group PC, a highly successful ten-person firm that provides technology and consulting services to small and medium sized businesses. You can find Gene online at GeneMarks.com