Knowing what’s going to happen in terms of trends and technology is something of a crystal ball gazing exercise, but checking trends is important in order for you to be responsive to opportunities and customer expectations.
To a large extent technological advances drive trends and people’s aspirations, and expectations alter as a consequence of these and other changes. For example, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) legislation passed in Europe concerning data use has made people more ‘data aware’ and they now require more control over information they might submit.
So, what are some of the trends for 2019?
Businesses adapting to their customer
Big Data tech and modern point of sale (POS) systems make it possible for businesses to learn much about their customers and their requirements through profiling, recording and analyzing their buying habits.
This means businesses are becoming more customer-centric in their offerings and properly listening and observing what their market wants. This is a key trend identified for 2019 and beyond as related tech such as Big Data and AI (Artificial Intelligence) will improve customer profiling potential still further.
Organizations will have to look after data better
In May 2018 stringent and more far reaching data protection and handling laws came into force for European organizations with the introduction of GDPR.
They were designed to bring data laws up to date since previous legislation dated back to the 1990s, and data collection and manipulation has exploded since then.
Whilst these laws don’t directly apply in the US and other countries, unless dealing with individuals based in EU (European Union) member countries, many US states have embraced something similar and passed their own new data laws.
It’s just as well: as said above, people are becoming more ‘savvy’ regarding data they give away and want more control over it.
Along with looking after data better, it’s expected that US organizations will change their data gathering habits such as focusing on more ways to gather their own rather than buying in or renting lists.
For example, more organizations will offer incentives to customers and prospects to part with data such as small gifts, entries to free competitions and more.
More funding options
Alternatives to the usual sources of lending for business (such as banks) have been on the rise but is expected to continue the sharp growth seen in 2018.
Some 80% of small business loans are turned down, so alternative sources able to give a decision quickly are increasingly being turned to. Peer-to-peer and other online lenders simplify the lending process and are more likely to lend than a traditional source.
For example, Atlanta based online lender Kabbage say they’re providing access to $10 million each day on its platform. Peer-to-peer lending from companies such as Funding Circle and Lending Club has increased by a remarkable 110% per year since 2006.
Customer contact options including virtual agents
The rise of chatbots fueled by AI (Artificial Intelligence) tech has made verbal and some written customer contact for service provision and initial sales interactions more effective and less labor intensive.
Customers resent having to use ‘only’ one or two communication methods – they want more choice so a ‘basket of options’ such as text, email and speech is very much the trend.
With more account being taken year by year of the environment and general ethics, customers are more inclined to patronize organizations who demonstrate responsibility in these areas.
For example, companies using as many environmentally friendly manufacturing techniques as possible are looked on more favorably as are those who use suppliers with a similar philosophy.
Other areas of social responsibility can be demonstrated in the way organizations recruit and treat their staff and, if they do use a natural resource, how they counteract it. For example, a business manufacturing from wood might have a tree planting program running.
It helps in business planning to identify trends if possible, so basic research is always worthwhile to not only keep up to date but maybe move ahead of the game.