Not too long ago people relied on communicating without the advantage of the internet or cell phones and there were challenges but people got business done. It was slow at times but it was sure. Not to say that every business was honorable and efficient. That is the farthest thing from the truth, however nowadays your business doesn't just reach your general area but in an instant can be propelled into the worldwide spotlight. If you've got a very hot product or service you can find yourself dealing with tens of thousands of people if not millions. It sounds good but it can be overwhelming and if not handled right it could lead to detrimental results.
That being said, today's business professional, whether large or small needs to be aware of the power of the communication systems expansion going on with technology. Every year new breakthroughs occur to the point of changing the way communications and business is done. If one finds oneself behind the learning curve productivity and profits are lost. Sometimes the unprepared can even lose their business. In that case it's best to have the right up to date news sources and not to shy away from technical progress. It pays to take the time to study up on the latest changes in your business and industry and to see what colleagues and the competition utilize to stay ahead of the game. To do so there are the general industry newsletters and expert consultant venues.
To make sure you don't fall victim to false or misleading information you need to communicate with colleagues and the manufacturers of the products you use. Their message boards and forums will be chock full of the latest information, critiques and more involving your industry and most of all fans and users of similar products and services you provide will be voicing their opinions as well. You'll learn from this information and it should allow you to foresee what changes may come.
Now if you're knowledgeable of the web or have an employee or friends to help you, you might start your own message board forum to get feedback from your customers. That's taking a big responsibility but nonetheless it's a very effective one. It's a step towards surveying your customers so that you can see what's really on their minds so you can better service them.
Pay attention to the news. The mainstream news and alternative news sources. This allows for getting a well rounded look at the industry and the opinions thereof. Being narrow minded about one's industry often leads to loss and irreparable damage. Take the time to look things over and have an open mind.
Finally, be willing to take constructive criticism from customers, clients, competitors, colleagues and experts in your field. This way you'll have your finger on the pulse of the latest information and perceptions of those customers and experts that are your business' life's blood.