It's not about how fast computer processors will go or how cheap inkjet printers will get. Hot tech trends for growing businesses will run the gamut in 2002, from wireless networks to Web demographics to biometrics. You may not be logged on to these technologies just yet, but by next December you'll be wondering how you ever got along without them.
- Instant Messaging (IM). It's not just for AOL chatters anymore. With IM built into Windows XP and a jump in use for internal office communications, IM is looking good for businesses. On the consumer side, if IM catches on in America like it has in Europe, there'll be a lot of opportunity in the field. Andy Bose, founder and CEO of small-business consulting group AMI-Partners in New York City, sees IM playing a role in improving customer service, too.
"[There will be] an increased push by established companies to get small businesses to do more online-payroll, human resources and marketing, all via an online interface. As viruses become more prevalent, small businesses will become more alert to their needs for virus prevention and detection software. DSL competitive local exchange carriers are having a very tough time financially, and small businesses can expect their choices for broadband and possibly telecommunications overall [to be] more limited."
- Biometrics. Leaping from fictional Bond movies to business, biometrics is taking its place as a real-world security solution. The International Biometric Group forecasts industry revenues nearing $600 million in 2003. With fingerprint identifiers priced below $100, is it time to replace your computer passwords with the whorls and loops of your thumbprint?
- Women Online. Nielsen/NetRatings information from May 2001 shows that women surfers make up 52 percent of the at-home Web population. A Millward Brown Intelliquest survey found that 78 percent of women surfers use the Net to get prepurchase product information, and 33 percent use the Net for research before buying goods offline. Put these stats together and apply them to your Web site. Supply lots of well-organized, easily accessible product and service details, and make 2002 the year of the informative Web site. The big winners, though, are still likely to be businesses with retail locations, too.
- m-Commerce. Not everybody will be running around wirelessly purchasing books from Amazon.com in 2002, but m-commerce will still be a-buzzing. Bose expects the greatest business m-commerce movement over the next year to be in the enabling technologies. More Internet-enabled cell phones and wireless PDAs for all.
- Wireless LANS. "Wireless LANs look extremely strong," says Bose, who expects their presence in small businesses to double over the next year. The Wi-Fi (802.11b) standard is leading the pack and popping up everywhere, from wireless stations at airports to Intel's latest AnyPoint networking kits. While Bluetooth is taking its time reaching the tech-hungry masses, expect to see Wi-Fi stickers on lots of wireless products and services.
- International Biometric Industry Association: Biometrics trade association featuring news, industry analysis, ethics and event information
- WECA: Home of the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance, offcial Wi-Fi backers.
- M-Commerce Times: Mobile commerce and wireless news, analysis and feature articles
What Do You Think?
Are our picks for what's hot in 2002 on target or way off base? Tell us what you think.