I’m often asked to pull out a crystal ball and talk about where technology is going. Preparing for the future and identifying the right technology for it is a main role I play as Chief Technology Officer at Marco. I am energized by new technology and anticipating where the advancements will take us. I don’t have a crystal ball. But I do wake up caring about technology and focus every day on how to better leverage it in business. So, here’s my take on the top technology trends that will impact business in 2017:
#5 Bid paper farewell as you know it.
The idea of the paperless office has been a concept for well over a decade. We’ve seen companies like ING Direct pioneer. Still few organizations have fully embraced it – until now. More is done over email and even the traditional meeting notes are typed on the spot. No, paper is not going away. But how we use it is.
With the move to more digital – and paperless - operations comes a greater need for a document management system. Every organization needs to evaluate what is saved, how it is saved and what will reach the virtual trash can. Not having a plan will lead to rising storage costs and spending more money than needed.
#4 A greater focus on e-commerce.
E-commerce once was reserved for retailers that sell goods to consumers. But that’s changing. In 2017, more B2B companies need to up their game and enter the e-commerce world. It’s the new standard. Look at Amazon. If you want to effectively compete for the business dollar, you need to have a strong online presence that makes it easy for organizations to buy from you.
That also will make it easier for you to market to a target audience and not just capture a lead with a click, but the sale itself. While relationships are still important and face-to-face selling is not going away, e-commerce and social selling will play a larger role in 2017. We’re feeling this firsthand at Marco and will be leading by example.
#3 Communication that’s actually unified.
We’ve talked about unified communications for a while and 2017 will be the year when it becomes a reality in business. It is almost essential with all the devices now on the network. How do all your communication systems work together? Take the time to map it out, test it and get it right. You’ll be happy you invested the time and resources. The result is better collaboration among employees, with customers and your prospects.
#2 Computers that “think” like humans.
This goes beyond logic to have computers become more human-like. That means instead of having a virtual receptionist that follows a series of programmed scenarios, the computer actually processes the information, makes a decision and answers based on what is being shared. We will see self-driving cars, autonomous drones and intelligent networks to name a few.
I expect 2017 to be the year when artificial intelligence really takes off in business and more organizations use it to improve their operations. It can be applied to everything from how calls are received or customer support is handled to driving, shipping and hiring.
And the trend that will have the biggest impact on 2017 in my perspective is… (Desktop drum roll, please).
#1 More customers that serve themselves.
For some, the highest level of customer satisfaction comes when they can fully serve themselves – quickly. The growing self-service trend already has given way to self-checkout, self-ticketing and a host of online shopping applications. The financial industry has been ahead of the curve on this, allowing customers to do everything from transfer funds and pay bills to issue checks and make deposits online from the convenience of a device.
As the hybrid cloud concept continues to grow into new market segments, network storage, compute and self-service application provisioning will become the norm. In the coming year, it is a concept that every organization should consider how to apply. It drives cost out of the model and gives a growing group of customers what they want. I’ll share more on this one and the impacts in an upcoming blog. (It’s going to have vast applications on business).
These trends are happening and they will impact business in 2017. Will you be ready? Gear up, prepare for the opportunities and make the most of 2017. Wishing you a prosperous new year full of new ideas and the ability to execute on the ones that matter most.