5 Business Technology Trends to Keep an Eye On
If you own a small-to-mid-sized business, you’ve probably been hard-wired to think that technology trends in business don’t apply to you. That’s because the word “trend” implies “new,” and “new” often means “expensive,” or too irrelevant to small biz functions to be adopted by SMBs.
Historically, adopting new technologies wasn’t cheap and in some cases it still isn’t. Overall corporate spending on artificial intelligence systems alone will reach $35.8 billion in 2019, an increase of 44% over the amount spent in 2018.
Yet it’s not just enterprise industries that can benefit from (or afford to implement) the 2020 trends we’re seeing in business technology. In fact, certain new trends in technology in business––such as low buy-in AI applications, in-app marketing and workforce tools, aggregate consumer data, and electronic payments, among others––are uniquely suited to benefit SMBs.
So, it’s high time we have a conversation about the emerging technology trends in business technology and how they can benefit your small to midsize businesses.
1. Consumers Shape their Own Shopping Journey with AI
Today’s customers want to be able to choose whether or not they interact with a real person. A staggering 63% of consumers would rather message with a chatbot than talk to a human associate and small businesses aren’t exempt from catering to customers that prefer to avoid the human touch.
AI is being used to empower consumers by letting them choose whether to speak to a human being or to navigate a website themselves with the help of a pop-up chatbot. This makes AI one of the most compelling future trends in business technology–– not only because you can use it to give consumers more control over their shopping journey, but also because technological advancements are making AI-based retail tech more affordable.
Suddenly, business trends in technology that were once only available to big box stores–such as chatbots, inventory forecasting, and intelligent employee scheduling–are accessible to retailers of all sizes.
2. Shoppers are Hankering for a Mobile Presence
Think your legacy shop can avoid having a mobile presence? Consider the fact that most consumers spend around 5 hours per day on their mobile devices. This means that if you don’t tap into the smartphone retail market, your bottom line is probably missing out.
Information technology trends in business are such that you can significantly boost sales by ensuring your brand is represented on apps that have already infiltrated your intended market. You can see this on a large scale with Under Armour, which recently purchased a series of fitness apps, including MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, and European fitness app Endomondo.
By aligning their brand with the latest fitness apps and social communities, Under Armour increased sales and brand awareness, as well as client engagement by a whopping 100,000 new users a day.
If your small business isn’t in a position to buy an app, you can still use them to align yourself with your brand’s targeted community through in-app advertising and sponsorships.
3. Aggregate Consumer Data Across Platforms
To make better inventory and marketing decisions you need a cohesive view of consumer behavior to base your decisions on. Worldwide data as a whole will grow 61% to 175 zettabytes by 2025 and more retailers are realizing that they need a comprehensive view of consumer behavior in order to remain competitive. The problem is, modern shoppers do their thing across multiple platforms.
A single shopper’s path-to-purchase can take place on any combination of SMS, in-app, social media, in-store, on a laptop, email, and chatbot touchpoints. This means you can’t gain a comprehensive view of your target customer’s path-to-purchase without taking all of these channels into account and then aggregating the data into a plan of action that you can understand.
Most companies don’t succeed at this. In fact, 87% of executives aren’t confident they’re doing the right things with their customer data… which means there’s a big opportunity to blow the competition out of the water through proper consumer data application.
4. Electronic Payments Leave Cash in The Dust
Processing electronic payments can mean the difference between making or losing a sale. And while electronic payments aren’t exactly a new thing in business, offering options beyond the basic cash payment has never been more essential for retailers.
Mckinsey reports that, over the last five years, electronic payment transactions––such as credit cards, debit cards, direct deposit, and electronic checks––have grown at a rate of 22 percent in emerging countries.
And if you want customers to have a positive experience with your brand, you have to accept their payment method of choice. All too often, SMBs are neglectful on the payment choices front.
Most customers don’t have the patience to wait for your connection to reload and an unplanned WiFi outage can wind up costing you thousands of dollars per minute, so ensure you have a backup connection to avoid an internet crisis in-store. You also want to partner with a payment processing company, such as Payment Depot, that has a 24 hour on-call customer service, so you’re able to immediately remedy payment processing issues if and when they arise.
5. Future Trends of Technology in Business
The more that technology advances, the more consumers expect to be able to dictate their own shopping journey. Customers want to feel like you know who they are, from the products and price-points they are shown to the payment methods you offer at checkout.
Future technology trends in business are hyper-oriented towards the mining and application of consumer data to give customers the personalization they crave. But there’s one thing that technology will never eliminate the need for: low prices.
A quarter of retail customers still look for the lowest price above all else when shopping. To provide this, you need to be able to save money where you can pass those savings along to your customers.
Payment Depot saves retailers like you an average of $400 a month on credit card processing. So you can offer customers some of the most competitive prices on the market, no matter what’s the size of your business.