Technology is advancing at an increased rate and for businesses, it is becoming difficult to predict which trends will last the long-haul and be beneficial for a company, and in particular how that technology can best aid the business.
For example, the increase of mobile working is a key growth area which needs to be adopted for businesses to thrive - but how do you achieve this? A CIO just buying tablets for their mobile workers to replace laptops is not the solution. Instead, the business needs to grasp the enormous potential of having an always connected workforce with access to up-to-the-minute key business information and applications while they are meeting and interacting with partners and customers.
It is crucial for businesses to think about the future of their companies and use technology as an enabler for business growth, without the fear of lagging behind. With technology innovations such as cloud computing and mobile affecting all aspects of a business, it is imperative these initiatives are adopted to help future trends become a reality.
All businesses need to innovate to compete. With technology developments increasing, what are some of the key technology trends businesses need to take into consideration?
Increase in mobile payments adoption
Contactless payments were a key movement in 2015, with almost a threefold year-on-year growth in purchases made using the technology and November 2015 seeing the monthly spend figure in the UK exceeding £1 billion for the first time. As contactless becomes more prevalent, so do mobile payments via NFC-enabled phones. Mobile payments will be a major disruptor to the payments market in the next few years. It is predicted that annual mobile payments will exceed $1 trillion by 2019.
Consumer focused businesses, no matter how big or small they are, need to accept mobile payments as consumers demand increases, with initiatives such as Apple Pay and Android Pay contributing to this growth. While it is unlikely we will be living in a cashless world by 2020, failing to embrace mobile payments will place businesses on the back foot as customer demand for mobile payments increases and consumers will start to assume all companies have access to this technology, especially for sectors such as retail, FMCG and many more.
Adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning
For businesses, Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings with it the advantage of improving customer experience, as well as automating tasks internally within the business, resulting in increased efficiency and productivity across the company.
We have already experienced AI adoption in the form of digital assistants across numerous platforms and devices, in the form of Siri, Google Now and Cortana providing us as consumers with an enhanced experience at the sound of a voice.
Business can adopt their own AI software in their own specific arena to provider customers with a platform which meets their particular needs, for example, finding the perfect holiday or that ideal birthday present. With seamless technology integration now the norm, this flows through to the business providing not only the ultimate customer satisfaction tool, but an increased emotional connection with the brand.
Within the organisation, AI and machine learning have the potential to revolutionise business intelligence as well as to create an efficient tool for companies to improve internal processes and management.
Cloud computing addresses two of the biggest complications with AI and machine learning: abundant, low cost computing and a way to leverage massive volumes of data, ensuring it can develop efficiently. Organisations can easily scale up or down as demands grow or shrink.
If companies do not start considering how AI can add to their business strategy, it could put potential expansion and advancement in the future at risk.
Personalised software is another trend which companies ought to adopt. This is software that is tailored to the individual user through their own personal configuration or even better automatically via heuristics and artificial intelligence. Gone are the days of ‘one size fits all’; today individuals demand that their tools work their way rather than them changing to match the software. This type of software can improve efficiency, enabling businesses to focus on the right task at the right time.
For example, if a user always looks at their stock volumes on Mondays, concentrates on placing orders on Tuesdays and monitors sales during the rest of the week then the software should adapt to their needs. It could identify what critical information is required at any particular moment, highlighting exceptions from the norm.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud computing, coupled with AI and machine learning, are ideal vehicles for this kind of personalised software as they can draw upon the experience of a wide range of users and provide a solution tailored to the individual needs of each person, giving them a unique and customised experience.
Businesses who do not refine software solutions for their specific needs will struggle to compete against more agile businesses prepared to change and adapt to the market.
Disrupting the market
These are three examples of technology trends that are disrupting the market. Companies that seek out innovation and grasp it with both hands are reaping the rewards of improved customer engagement and efficient business practices.
As with any new development, businesses need to be flexible with the technology they use and ensure each stage of the process is trialled before progressing onto the next. We all know that not every endeavour succeeds, but we must be prepared to fail in order to have a chance at succeeding.
The companies which embrace the technology available will gain competitive advantage, as well as increase overall business growth. Disrupting the market before competitors and embracing instead of challenging key technology trends will mean overall long term success for businesses.