Welcome to 2018! If you haven’t already, it's time to create a growth strategy and budget. You may have used all types of technology to help get you where you are today. You need to consider technology investments to further what you can achieve. Here are five of the top technology investments that are worth considering as we begin 2018:
From customer service and marketing to unstructured data collection and customer engagement, chatbots benefit all types of businesses. Juniper Research defines a chatbot as "a computer program utilizing technology designed to simulate conversational interactions with human users, which may also include automated processes triggered from these interactions."
An article for The Next Web noted that chatbots are here to stay and will only grow in their use and advantages. A Juniper Research infographic on chatbots in the banking and healthcare sectors reveals numerous benefits. For example, the average time saving per chatbot inquiry compared with traditional call centers is four minutes. Multiplied by thousands of calls and you see the incredible potential.
With more of your target audience becoming accustomed to the idea of a chatbot in their interactions, this may be the time to consider using one to better understand what your customers want and why. The good news is that there are more chatbot platforms available. This means you can spend time researching them and finding the one that works for your strategic objectives and budget.
2. Intelligent Analytics
This is not to say that regular analytics don't offer incredible insights because they do. What this new technology does is also put the power of artificial intelligence to work like chatbots do to deliver new patterns and ways to slice and dice the growing amount of data your business will receive. Intelligent analytics, powered by machine learning, will touch many areas. These include algorithms, data prep, data models, and data analysis.
Additionally, more apps will need to be embedded with intelligent analytics. This will help them get the most from available data as customers sign up for and use your app. You'll need to figure out how to make sure that it becomes an integral part of each platform you use in your business to help with sales, marketing, and UX. Additionally, this intelligent analytics can even help you with online payment fraud by using the data in each transaction to identify anything out of the ordinary, stopping a criminal or hacker in their tracks.
3. Internet of Things (IoT)
Since many of the technologies are starting to converge and integrate, it's important to consider investing in IoT as well. If you offer consumer-facing products or even business-focused products, the Internet of Things and the need to connect more devices to a larger network will become increasingly important to all types of businesses.
Forbes published an article that noted the many ways that IoT will change businesses for the better. First, it will give you more access to data on your customers, including understanding more about how they live and work, their preferences, and their challenges. Second, IoT is set to provide a more effective way to handle inventory management in your business. Third, the interconnectedness that IoT brings through linking up devices commonly used is that there will be greater speed, efficiency, and accessibility -- all factors integral to an improved UX. Additionally, AT&T Business noted that IoT also provides a way to have continuous customer engagement.
4. Cloud Services
According to statistics quoted in an Inc. Magazine article, "The percentage of U.S. small businesses using cloud computing is expected to more than double during the next six years, from 37 percent to nearly 80 percent, according to a study from consulting firm Emergent Research and financial software company Intuit."
There are many options for implementing cloud services. These include working with businesses that plug into cloud-based service providers. Then, there are hives, which are businesses that operate with employees in different remote locations who can make the most of the sharing functionality that cloud services offer. The cloud services niche of technology also allows you to compete with larger businesses because of its features and power.
In response to these trends, there is more Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure and Platform as a Service (IaaS and PaaS, respectively) options. They offer a way to accomplish more in various places simultaneously or on the go. The technology simplifies operations and offers a convenient way for customers and/or employees to access services.
However, there is more cloud technology to consider investing in. This includes increasing your cloud storage capacity. That way, you can leverage all the available data.
This technology has an incredible scope of functionality that will benefit all types of industries, businesses, and organizations. This includes supply chain management, media, manufacturing, healthcare, government, contracts and agreements, data storage, identity verification and more. Blockchain is already a very beneficial technology tool in financial services, adding more ways to secure transactions and create alternative payment methods. With these many options, it's easy to see how you can integrate blockchain into your business and start leveraging some incredibly powerful benefits to change the speed and efficiency of transactions and other processes.
A Business.com article noted some more reasons why you should invest in this technology. When it comes to secure money operations, the article noted, "Blockchain transactions are not restricted by country borders, enhancing opportunities for businesses to grow globally, employ foreign workers and collaborate with foreign partners." Additionally, you can enjoy the confidence of unbreakable contracts, a smooth supply chain operation, safe data storage, and a smart office that strengthens the secure environment for your investment in IoT.
Do Your Due Diligence
When looking to make an investment in any or all of these technologies, do your research first. Get an in-depth understanding of how it can impact your business and what value you can generate for your target audience and customers. Also, estimate the type of return you might get for the technology investment. Consider if your competition is already using this technology or if you can gain a competitive advantage. Finally, study each technology's available products and services. This will help identify a company that aligns with your needs and budget. From there, you'll be able to make a wise decision about the technology to invest in during 2018.