It’s common to hear of handy new apps, websites and software that solve a problem or make a task easier. Some catch on, some fizzle out. It’s not always easy to pick which are which but it’s always worth keeping an eye on the bigger technology trends and how they can be applied to your business.
Whilst being too early to arrive can sometimes result in catching the wrong train, getting on to something early enough that it’s proved to have gained – or is rapidly gaining – widespread adoption can give you a competitive advantage or open up a new market.
Here are the current big trends to be aware of.
Cloud computing has been around a while, but took a while to gain traction. Limitations in bandwidth and security concerns held back early growth, but now those are largely overcome its widespread adoption is well in motion. Users can now access their data, tools and resources from virtually anywhere. For businesses it’s a usually a far cheaper and more efficient way to operate. With virtually all software providers offering some form of SaaS (Software as a Service) product it’s virtually certain this one is here to stay. On-premise server rooms and locally installed software are going the same way as the facsimile.
Attacks are still on the rise and will remain a big issue. It’s unusual to get an email from a rich Nigerian prince these days but attempts to steal personal information are more frequent and more sophisticated than ever. Therefore security is paramount and every business needs a plan to protect its data assets.
3.Artificial intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence and Machine learning are one of the most significant trends today and are continuing to rapidly grow. With systems and machines becoming more capable of handling autonomous tasks and learning processes, coupled with a large amount of investment in AI applications, it is likely to impact nearly every industry in the next 5-10 years. Big companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon are already using AI technology to improve customer experience and it’s becoming more common is CRM and automated marketing products.
Initially frowned at, automation tools are now key factors in the optimisation of business processes because they simplify and improve performance. Automation tech is most commonly seen in marketing campaigns, communications, sales and invoicing, but now departments such as customer service, HR, payroll and others are fast adopting automation for the same benefits.
It’s everywhere. With most people now carrying a portable production unit in their pocket video is all around us. Businesses who have adopted video in their marketing universally report a greater engagement with their audience. The key is getting people past the first 3 seconds, then hooking them to the 15 second mark. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just watchable.
Chatbot app’s can usually be setup and installed on any website. People use them to communicate with the help of artificial intelligence. Chatbots are gaining in popularity and being implemented by companies that are providing 24/7 service, particularly SaaS companies. The technology is excellent for managing customer service and improving productivity. Those queries that can’t be handled by the chatbot get routed to the next available customer service operator when they are next back online.
Social media is long past the point of discussion but social shopping is undoubtedly now on the rise. As many as 9/10 consumers use social media to get help in their buying decisions. Apple, Google and Facebook now have their own payment systems. Hence social payments should keep getting much easier. A continued transformation in e-commerce and other types of business transactions are likely to make it easier to sell products and services online. Seems a long time since anyone wrote a cheque and sent it in the post!
Still debatable as to whether it’s yet gaining widespread adoption but it’s hard to deny it’s not a trend worth paying attention to. What’s not debatable is that it has enormous potential for integrating into future technologies. It’s security for digital assets that can help in improving payments, identity verification, distributing digital information and transactions through various cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The distributed ledger network of blockchain keeps verifiable records of each and every transaction ever made in the system. It’ll be interesting to see how businesses owners will use the technology and how long it takes to become mainstream.