13 Dec Tech trends that will change business in 2017
Business is changing – and that rate of change is accelerating year on year. Open communication and flexible working are regarded as beneficial, transparency and being “human” are encouraged, and an agile method of working is considered to add value both internally and to customers. But what are the tech trends 2017 that will support this new approach to business?
As the Founder and CTO of SocialSignIn, I’m in the privileged position that I get to work with many forward-thinking organisations. I see how they embrace new technologies, weaving it seamlessly into the fabric of their infrastructure to drive growth, customer experiences and internal efficiencies.
However, among the plethora of tech, software and strategies that fade away just as quickly as they appeared, several key themes have emerged that have “stuck” – and which are now transforming how businesses operate and serve their customers.
The bots are here – and they’re already changing the shape of modern business. One such way is in how customer service is now delivered for many organisations. Customer Support has historically been one the most resource-intensive departments in a company. Staff spend their day answering the same queries via telephone, email and social media. It is also a part of the operation that is hard to link to an ROI.
Although Customer Service is evolving to become the “voice of the customer” for leading businesses, with the data used to make wide-reaching business decisions, it is still difficult to report the real value of the Customer Support team. Therefore, anything reducing friction and the need for manpower in this area has significant operational benefits. Previously we’ve seen companies create a knowledgebase, allowing customers to self-serve. But with the rise of the Bot, there is an opportunity to both save money and deliver powerful customer experiences.
At a basic level, Chatbots can be used to quickly deal with your FAQ’s. Simply identify your most common questions and set up your Chatbot to react to keywords or sentences, allowing you to meet SLA’s and to focus on complex enquiries, or areas that add most value. But don’t lose the “human touch”, have your Chatbot alert you if it can’t answer an enquiry, you can then harness the power of messaging platforms to respond in near real-time and deliver memorable customer experiences.
AI and machine learning have reached a critical tipping point, no longer are they considered the stuff of sci-fi movies. They are now augmenting and extending virtually every technology-enabled service or application that we use. Intelligent systems that learn, adapt and predict customer behaviour will soon become the norm in business, adding value to a number of key areas and insulating the organisation against potential risks and mitigating factors. This is already being used very effectively in the banking sector.
With cumulative worldwide spending on AI set to reach over £30 billion by 2024, it will soon be a vital tool for company decision-makers. The technology is now increasingly accessible for in-house developers, with tech vendors offering a range of APIs and frameworks that allow businesses to create their own back office and consumer-facing systems and processes.
The key for decision-makers is to recognise that Artificial Intelligence isn’t a single technology, application or a silver bullet to common business pain points. Whether driverless cars, smartphone virtual assistants or detecting trends, the value will come from understanding how these related technologies can work together to create complete solutions for your business and its customers.
In the modern business zeitgeist, companies need their workforce to perform ever-smarter, faster and more productively. Achieving this requires deeply embedding collaborative technologies and incentivising collaborative behaviors that will help transform the way an organization turns knowledge into action. Collaboration platforms now enable employees to do more that just “talk” about their work, they facilitate new ways for employees to communicate and create.
With remote working and agility now such key business traits, “social” platforms like Slack and Yammer are commonplace within leading organisations, delivering real-time communication, archiving and search functionality. These platforms allow organisations to be fast on their feet, capitalising on emerging opportunities or ideas and disrupting markets.
The Internet has democratized the way we communicate and get new ideas. Today, our customers and communities are co-innovators and co-creators of our products and brand. Fortune 500 companies such as PWC, Unilever, Microsoft and American Airlines are using collaborative crowdsourcing tools like Chaordix and BrightIdea to accelerate innovation in their internal and external channels. Crowdsourcing tools and collective intelligence allow knowledge gaps to be filled or ideas refined, resulting in faster routes to market and a much more robust product upon launch.
These tech trends 2017 will significantly disrupt traditional working practices over the next three years, they will become enablers of digital and algorithmic business opportunities. Those companies which identify the technologies that will have most impact on their business, harnessing them effectively and adjusting business models successfully – are the ones that will leverage the largest competitive advantage. These are the trends that will shape the future of business.
About the Writer:
Ben Nimmo is the Founder and CTO of SocialSignIn. A serial entrepreneur with a history of successful tech start-ups, Ben is passionate about finding new ways for businesses to harness the power of digital technology to deliver world class marketing and customer service.