We saw a host of new and novel ideas and concepts that ushered in the New Year and we cannot forget everything that transpired in 2017. From getting close to making driverless mainstream to the introduction of AI chatbots, the world has moved forward dramatically and technological improvements will continue to propel businesses forward. Let us take a quick peak at 5 trends that every business owner or manager needs to be aware of in 2018 to make sure their business moves forward.
The freelancer or consultant market will grow
From sub-contracting basic tasks like data entry to developing code for web or mobile applications to even developing text and visual content for social channels, more and more businesses are turning towards freelancers to get their work done at a fraction of the cost of employing full-time employees with a specific skillset. Popular service aggregators like Upwork and Freelancer.com are experiencing a huge surge in business and this has given a rise to the gig economy which will continue to thrive in 2018 and beyond. Companies in Kuwait, especially entrepreneurs, are taking advantage of this and if you haven’t yet, it is about time you took some of the burden off your shoulders and tried them out.
The younger generation wants customized services and will pay to get them
The best way a customer can experience a superior customer journey is when IT and different touchpoints within the sales & marketing ecosystem offer them a harmonized, seamless and customized customer journey. Generation Z customers have little or no problem paying a bit more provided they get a more personalized service from brands. Business owners will have to accommodate the desire for personalized customer service by merging automated systems with personal interactions. This means using CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and other tools along with integrating social monitoring channels to deliver the most personalized service possible to customers.
AI will take a huge leap forward
With the introduction of Artificial Intelligence into the mainstream, utilities like automated chat bots on eCommerce sites will become more intelligent and cognizant of human needs and requirements. For those of you who use a social media tool like Crowdfire, you know what I am talking about. Even though the AI that is available for commercial purpose at low prices or free isn’t as good as let’s say IBM’s Watson, it will eventually get there (remember how intuitive and responsive Google Now or Siri has become over the years?) As a matter of fact, many top vendors are already using AI to collect information and monitor customer usage and trends and this will prove crucial in helping marketers plan their next big campaign strategy.
Cyber Security will be a top priority
With all the hacking that has gone on over the last few years with large global brands like Tesco and Sony being victims, security experts are predicting hackers will soon start targeting the SMBs of the world. Most small companies do not have enough resources allocated towards thwarting or managing cyber treats like identity theft and malware. Business owners will definitely be focusing on investing in security measures like firewalls and other tools that prevent security hacks.
Virtual Reality is here to stay
In one of my previous articles last year, I had explained the various uses of Virtual Reality as a tool for much more than gaming and this is even truer in 2018. With more and more businesses utilizing VR to showcase their customer experience, VR is expected to become more mainstream than gaming in the next few years. Training costs will now go down; specialized education will become more accessible and interesting. Various industries including manufacturing and engineering will benefit from the technology. Popular platforms like YouTube also support 360 degree videos, and others are working on providing VR support for realistic previews before buying specific services like travel packages etc. In fact, this will make it easier for brands to host content without having to invest in expensive hosting solutions and other technologies.
Barry Rodrigues is Head of Marketing & Product Development at Future Communications, Kuwait and founder of NexGen Digital. For comments, please email Barry at [email protected]