According to a recent report, the United States dropped out of the top 10 in the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index for the first time in its history.
For six years, Bloomberg has evaluated the business landscapes of countries around the world. The countries are given a score based on seven categories of criteria: research and development spending, manufacturing value added, tertiary efficiency, the concentration of researchers, patent activity, high-tech density and productivity.
The countries ranking at the top are those where businesses are embracing technology. The countries earning high marks aren’t just responsible for generating new tech innovations, they’re also seeing widespread adoption of technological advancements.
Globally, the business landscape is changing in many ways and innovation isn’t just prized in the Bloomberg Index; it’s the only way for businesses to compete. Businesses need to adapt in order to stay competitive in the global economy. Here are three ways the business landscape is evolving and how businesses can grow alongside it to stay up to date.
1. Freelance talent
Freelancers represent a much larger group of workers today than in the past. According to a 2014 study released by the Freelancers Union, 53 million Americans are freelance workers, making up approximately 34 percent of the total workforce. This figure includes 21.1 million independent contractors, 14.3 million moonlighters, 9.3 million diversified workers, 5.5 million temporary workers and 2.8 freelance business owners. The total number of freelancers is expected to increase 50 percent by 2020.
Freelance work is far more flexible than typical nine-to-five employment. And as technology allows people to get more work accomplished remotely, many are turning to freelance work as a means of better maintaining a healthier work life balance. This means some of the best talent on the marketplace are working as freelancers and businesses that want to tap into that talent must look into hiring freelancers.
“Businesses are finally realizing that to attract the best talent, they need to change the way they think about employment. The desire for flexibility and work/life balance is one of the primary reasons why we are seeing a much greater percentage of freelancers in the workforce today,” says Erin Yoffe Halper, Founder and CEO of The Upside.
Additionally, embracing independent contractors can be a way to get more done in less time while cutting costs. Hiring skilled freelancers can give companies the highly experienced talent they often need to quickly rollout projects or increase output without burdening their teams. Often times adding too much to the workload of permanent employees can lead to burnout and work quality may be sacrificed. But freelance workers can take on these additional duties at lower costs than hiring additional full-time employees.
“Businesses that begin to embrace the concept of creating a talent assortment of full-time and freelance workers to maximize efficiencies will be the businesses that attract the best talent. Like any technology or economic evolution, there is a first-mover advantage to embracing the freelance movement,” advises Halper.
2. Digital infrastructure
As recently as a decade ago, entrepreneurs looking to start a new business often had to come up with a large sum of start-up capital. They’d often have to pay for a physical space to operate their business, along with all the other necessary supplies. They’d also need the funds to pay for upkeep, utilities, and other infrastructure costs. But the days of having to take on all the costs of starting or running a business are long gone.
With new technology, there are endless ways to be cost effective and grow your business. For example, in today’s digital world, companies can forego the cost of building and maintaining data centers on their premises. Instead, they can purchase Infrastructure as a Service and save on the cost of servers, storage and hardware.
“Replacing cloud storage and providing processor and memory allows businesses to accomplish resource-intensive projects involving computer-generated imagery, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality at an affordable price,” says Michael Stollaire, President and CEO of Titanium, a blockchain-infrastructure provider.
This is especially beneficial for technology startups, who have innovative ideas but not the infrastructure to launch or operate them.
3. New money
Small mom and pop businesses have their charms. But nowadays cash-only establishments will have a hard time drawing customers. And thanks to tech companies like Square Inc., the now-ubiquitous mobile-payment application, it no longer makes sense for businesses not to accept all forms of payment. Many mobile payment providers often charge businesses lower rates for transactions than major financial institutions. Square charges a flat rate of 2.75 percent for swiped transactions, 3.5 percent + $0.15 for keyed transactions, and 2.9 percent + $0.30 for online transactions. And they don’t charge monthly fees or statement fees.
But nowadays the use of mobile transaction apps is even common place in some markets. Other more technologically advanced businesses are adopting other kinds of payment methods that allow customers to pay with their smartphones. Companies like Google, Apple and Samsung have all created their own payment apps and it will be important for businesses to become early adopters of these payment applications in order to set themselves apart from their competitors.
And the next wave in the financial world for businesses is embracing cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Lots of people are investing their money in these currencies and businesses looking to get ahead of the curve should look for ways to get in on the ground floor.
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