Watch the INTERVIEW HERE
From apps to social media to mobile payment processing, doing business in the digital age means staying on top of new trends in technology. But with so many trends to keep track of, it’s easy for businesses to get lost in the shuffle.
But Marc Ostrofsky, serial entrepreneur and author of the new book “Word of Mouse: 101+ Trends in How We Buy, Sell, Live, Learn, Work and Play” (Simon and Schuster, 2013) believes that it pays for businesses to keep up with the latest trends in technology, even if they’d rather not.
In an email interview with BusinessNewsDaily, Ostrofsky explained how technology makes running a business easier and why, instead of tuning out, businesses of every size should be plugging in to the tech options that work for them.
Marc Ostrofsky is a best-selling author, domain name investor, founder of high-tech trade shows and publications, and a pioneer of numerous telephone and communication services. His first book, Get Rich Click!: The Ultimate Guide to Making Money Online, topped best-seller lists in its category at Amazon,Barnes & Noble, The Wall Street Journal and more. Today, he joins The Motley Fool to discuss the trends revealed in his latest book, Word of Mouse: 101+ Trends in How We Buy, Sell, Live, Learn, Work & Play.
Ostrofsky joins us today to discuss technology trends from apps and cyber security to mobile payments and QR codes, and how the changing tech scene affects our day-to-day lives and businesses. His biggest piece of advice? Know what you don’t know.
Many small businesses still don’t use modern technology, according to a recent survey by online marketing firm Yodle. While more than half of those surveyed use high tech for accounting purposes, far fewer use it for marketing and sales. Less than half have websites. Yet studies show 90% of all consumers prefer online shopping. Small-business owners who want to dash past the competition must embrace technology, says Marc Ostrofsky in “Word of Mouse.” “If you keep doing what you always do, and the competition does it differently, they could be getting ahead of you,” he told IBD.
How to get with the program:
• Find experts. “Know what you don’t know,” Ostrofsky said. “Hire your weaknesses.” After making a fortune buying and selling domain names, he’s learning book promotion. “In marketing my book, I need to know how to use Facebook (FB), Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn (LNKD), etc. Some I’m good at and others I’m not. I have to find experts who are fluent in those languages.”
His advice to small businesses: Find a generalist, someone who knows social media, search engine optimization and website building.
• Use smartphones smartly. It’s not enough to have a basic cellphone, says Ross & Ross International , a tech consulting firm for small businesses, in a recent press release. A smartphone that lets you text, instant message and use other social networking services lets you respond to sales prospects, customers and partners much faster.
Smartphones can also streamline the sales process. The cash register will soon be a thing of the past.
• Look into apps. Applications such as Square — which lets you swipe credit cards — turn smartphones and other mobile devices into cash registers. SpotOn says that’s a serious trend. Retailers nationwide are “ditching traditional point-of-sale systems in favor of touchscreen phones and tablets to better engage with shoppers, shrink checkout lines and improve customer experiences,” the consulting firm said in a press release.
• Digitize your network. The most basic information that small businesses should have about customers is their email address. Email lets you communicate sales, special offers and other vital information to keep clients coming through the door.
In his book, Ostrofsky tells the story of his favorite golf store, which loses its lease and asks customers to leave their email addresses so the owner can notify them of his new location. Ostrofsky was shocked the shop owner didn’t already have those emails.
In Word of Mouse: 101+ Trends in How We Buy, Sell, Live, Learn, Work and Play (published today by Simon & Schuster), New York Times bestselling author, trend watcher and serial entrepreneur Marc Ostrofsky shows how virtually any business can succeed if they learn how to harness today’s top technology trends with these five tips:
1. Turn Your Data Into Dollars
Your database will prove to be one of your most valuable assets if you ever sell your business. New data analytics software can vastly expand and automate what you learn about your customers and contacts.
2. Extend Your Reach With QR Codes
Use QR codes to transform your business card, posters, flyers and giveaways from passive mediums into interactive ones
3. Clean Up Your Online Reputation
Companies like Reputation.com can quiet rampant online rumors about your business or stop them before they start.
4. Prepare For The Mobile Wallet
Make sure your business is prepared for the mobile wallet, a new technology that will soon allow your customers to pay you (and anyone) using mobile wallet software on their smartphone.
5. Leverage Powerful Apps including these top apps for businesses:
With scores more trends tips and inspiring stories, Word of Mouse will free you from technology intimidation, and will open your eyes to the technology mega trends that will determine your business’ digital future.
The Web’s effects on work, leisure, and life in general have been so transformative that people and businesses who stick to the same old methods will fall steadily behind, says venture-capital investor Marc Ostrofsky. But a bounty of new opportunities will arise for those that are forward-thinking and embrace change. Word of Mouse explores the Web’s future development and what it will mean for businesses and consumers.
Mobile phone-based Web access, in particular, will empower consumers, businesses, and organizations to get more data, more quickly, and use it to make all kinds of better-informed decisions. Smartphones now connect users to information ranging from travel guides and meal recipes to job leads and medical advice. In coming years, expect voting, grocery shopping, and a variety of new financial services to be widely smartphone-accessible, too.
Other software tools will feed users ever-larger volumes of information about their surroundings. Businesses and consumers alike should plan for the proliferation of facial-recognition software, digital billboards that change their ad displays in accordance with the viewer’s age and gender, and augmented-reality tools for users to look up data on any object or person in sight within milliseconds.
Ostrofsky lays out a wide range of suggestions for how entrepreneurs, in particular, can use evolving Web technologies to their advantage. His insights cover suggestions for raising funds via crowdsourcing, creating and promoting your personal “brand” via social-networking sites, and how to stay safe from malware and cyberattacks, among other topics.
Word of Mouse is a practical guide to technology evolution and its ramifications for everyday living. Whether its readers are business owners, employees, or consumers, they’ll find a wealth of relevant and thought-provoking observations.
Technology is changing so fast that it’s easy to give in to intimidation instead of taking charge of its opportunities.
In WORD OF MOUSE: 101+ Trends in How We Buy, Sell, Live, Learn, Work and Play (Simon & Schuster, 9/10/13), bestselling author and trend watcher Marc Ostrofsky reveals the latest apps and technologies that can empower ordinary people to excel at virtually every aspect of their lives from shopping, parenting and education, to safety, health, dating, and more, sharing key opportunities that can make our lives easier, faster and more effective.
For example, the latest technology is transforming:
Parenting: Bridge the digital divide with your kids by staying in touch through social media and Skype. Monitor their online behavior. Discuss risks of public posts and tweets.
Savvy Shopping: Discover the 20 best mobile shopping apps for electronic coupons, price comparisons, price alerts, rewards, and product reviews so you can find the best deals, get the best price, and purchase your item with a mobile payment system-all on your phone.
Cyber Safety: Outsmart cybercriminals who are targeting more than ten million victims a year including your kids. Discover apps that protect you from distracted driving.
Dating: Take online workshops on how to investigate and verify details about your dates.
DIY Health: Find the best apps that test your eyesight, diagnose back pain, track your eating habits and sleeping patterns, monitor your blood pressure, and forecast hay fever.
Education: Witness today’s digital classrooms where third-grade kids track homework due-dates, check grades, and access course materials on smartphone apps, learn with educational electronic games, write blogs, and initiate Skype calls with authors they read.
Pets: GPS collar tags can help you identify where your pet is at all times.
Side Income: Sell any product on the spot with an app that turns your smartphone into a cash register. Or explore “Tebowing”, a website you design to attract traffic.
You’ll not only learn about the latest apps at your disposal, but tips on how to best use them to your advantage to make your life easier, safer, thriftier and more fun.