There’s no doubt about it: digitization is the way of the future. As more and more online software and tools emerge, businesses that don’t get behind these automated technologies are being left in the dust.

No one has time to waste on manual data entry and most frugal entrepreneurs would rather purchase a cheaper software platform that can accomplish the same task a more-expensive salaried employee would cost. Old school, pen-and-paper processes might sound romantic in our nostalgic minds, but the truth of the matter is that if you choose not to hop aboard the technological revolution and leave your feet stuck in the mud, you’ll undoubtedly be leapfrogged by startup businesses hungry for innovation.

transforming startup

Curious about how you can give your new business a competitive edge? Here are five new technologies to take a look at.

1. Social Media

Social media has revolutionized pretty much everything—from how we communicate with our relatives on the opposite coast to how we remember friends’ birthdays—and business is no exception. If you own a small company, social media is a great tool to grow your business. Since it’s essentially free, it’s one of the best platforms you can use launch your startup to get it up and running.

The social media site you should use will depend on the type of business you want to grow. For example, Pinterest and Instagram are great for sharing visual content—which is ideal for florists, graphic designers, and creative artists—while Facebook and Twitter are better for direct communication with your audience. When you’re first getting started, it’s best to develop a social media strategy and narrow your focus to just a few platforms to be most effective.

2. Automated Marketing

If you remember the days of door-knocking and mailbox-stuffing, then you know how exhausting guerilla marketing strategies can be. From intensive email blasts to posting flyers on bulletin boards across town, effective marketing campaigns required a lot of time, money, and energy… until now.

Marketing automation software for small business makes it easy for your company to get its message out there. Emails? Check. Postcards? Check. Take the grunt work out of your marketing campaigns with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that can do the work for you.

3. Traffic Generation and Control

“Traffic” refers to the number of users who view your website—and it’s never been easier to improve thanks to growth hacking tools made available through new technology. It seems as though until recently, insights into digital marketing were hard to come by, but now startups can easily and affordably use SEO strategy to their advantage.

Is your website not generating enough traffic? Mixrank can help you locate new sources of potential traffic while monitoring competition in your network, or use Quick Sprout to receive suggestions on which key changes you can make to your website that will grow traffic naturally.

traffic generation

21st-century analytics gives you the power to not only boost your website traffic, but also monitor it. Now you can see who is coming to your site—and from where—so you can invest more in those domains (and save more off profitless channels). This is especially helpful for entrepreneurs who are using app marketing strategies and are a little uncertain exactly where to point their arrow.

4. Virtual Employees 

It might sound a little spooky, but AI technology is here and it’s completely transforming how businesses operate. Can’t come to the phone or respond to a customer query right away? No problem. Now you can find everything from virtual secretaries to customer service reps and more, ensuring you never lose out on business because you were preoccupied with other tasks. Many of these online resources such as Legal Zoom and Quickbooks eliminate the need to hire the types of independent contractors you would have needed for legal or tax advice in the past.

5. PDF Document Scanners

This technology might not seem like much to write home about since you’ve probably been aware of desktop document scanners for quite some time. But now, there are plenty of apps that you can download onto your phone to quickly and conveniently scan information to be saved as PDF files. Too often busy entrepreneurs lose pivotal documents—whether that’s a client agreement, colleague’s business card, or invoice receipt—so you’re never caught empty handed again.

Step into the future with these five technologies to give your startup a competitive edge!