Business and technology have always got along famously. Just look at how enterprising commodities companies in the 19th Century leveraged the steam engine, or how assembly line technology precipitated the automobile boom of the early 20th Century.
In the latter half of the 20th Century, the typewriter gave way to the manual word processor in offices, which in turn gave way to the personal computer – each iteration improving on efficiency and productivity.
This long history of embracing innovative technologies culminates in the current day, as companies strive to acquire and deploy the bleeding edge in business technology.
But what defines “business technology,” a broad and somewhat nebulous term? What types of business technology exist today? What are some notable examples? And what value do these innovative tools present for the modern organizations?
This article explores business technology, aiming to survey the kaleidoscopic intersection between work and technology in a few hundred words.
Defining Business Technology
By definition, business technology is the application of data analysis, science, engineering and software development for the purposes of improving a business.
Those improvements might come in the form of smoother operations, newer products, happier customers or more robust marketing strategies – to name just a few applications.
It’s a fairly broad term. As mentioned in the intro, business technology can technically refer to any applicable invention used for commerce. To a farmer, for instance, the shovel is a type of business technology.
However, most often in contemporary parlance, business technology refers to the suite of digital products and tools available to companies.
Common Types of Business Technology
With an all-encompassing term like business technology, it is helpful to break things down by category. Here are the common types of business technology you will see in the modern workplace:
1. Productivity Platforms
The goal of a productivity platform is straightforward – squeeze as much value from your current workforce by optimizing efficiency. Productivity platforms include task management tools, spreadsheet software, Pomodoro-style work optimization tools, etc.
2. Communication Platforms
As workplaces increasingly go remote, communication platforms are an essential feature in modern business operations. Communication platforms might include multimedia tools, video conferencing platforms, workplace messaging apps, etc.
3. Digital Marketplaces
Thanks to digital marketplaces, we’ve seen significant changes in how professionals find clients, customers, partners and employers. Digital marketplaces include consumer-centric marketplaces, B2B marketplaces, and online job marketplaces.
4. Sales and Marketing Software
The old door-to-door sales model is no longer viable, as consumers increasingly prefer an omnichannel approach to sales and marketing. Sales and marketing software includes lead generation tools, inbound marketing tools, CRMs, sales cadence automation, and EMS.
5. Product innovation
A category unlike the others, “product innovations” can also be a form of business technology. Product innovations refer to any new hardware, software or engineering invention a company incorporates into its product offerings.
These categories do not cover every business technology product under the sun. Instead, they offer a cross-section of the most popular technologies used today.
Examples of Business Technology
Having examined the basic business technology categories, let’s zero in on a few specific examples.
Perhaps the most well-known (certainly one of the oldest) digital productivity tools is the Microsoft Office Suite, a collated group of productivity tools covering spreadsheet documentation, presentation software and database management systems.
Because of its relatively long history in office culture, many people overlook it as a productivity tool, but its influence remains large.
Digital marketplaces have proliferated recently, but none is as notable (or as innovative) as Nobul, a real estate digital marketplace for homebuyers and sellers. The platform allows real estate professionals to gain attention from consumers, who can search for agents according to relevant personal criteria.
CEO Regan McGee says Nobul represents “a massive opportunity to improve the traditional buying and selling experience for both consumers and industry professionals,” with “a confluence of tech innovations” disrupting the status quo.
Communication platforms are numerous, but two standout examples in the recent zeitgeist are Zoom and Slack. The former is a videoconferencing tool popularized around the beginning of the pandemic, while the latter is a messaging platform increasingly popular with remote workplaces.
Finally, in the world of sales and marketing, Salesforce remains a juggernaut of business technology. An extension of the classic CRM (Customer relationship management platform), Salesforce incorporates a suite of analysis, management and automation tools to facilitate a smooth sales pipeline.
Hopefully, this article provides you with a working definition of business technology, as well as a window into its storied history and exciting future.