Do you know that technology has already evolved from being just a tool to caring about to caring about the user? The speed with which technology is advancing, changing, and improving has transformed every area of life today. Imagine when your lifestyle and the choices in your life are manipulated by technology. Just Imagine. One of these areas that have witnessed the influence of new technologies has been the business landscape in the 21st century. From how to how, from when to where, and from with who to with what, business has witnessed perhaps the greatest influence of modern technology. Most notably, as this article will demonstrate, new technology trends significantly influence business by being mutually progressive for both the customer and the retailer. While some influences have been relatively negative, new technologies have predominantly improved contemporary business models in a way never witnessed before.
For this discussion, the focus is on how modern businesses have benefited from the rapidly evolving technology. Ideally, new technologies have influenced modern businesses in several ways, including:
a) Globalised target customers beyond geographical, regional, political, religious and socio-cultural borders
b) Boosted profitability while simultaneously reducing operation cost
c) Improved the tools used in business for sales, marketing, branding and brand development, customer relations/engagement, stock management
d) Enhanced cash-flow avenues for customer’s shopping convenience
e) Enhanced the customer experience
f) Optimized business operations
g) Increased productivity
Modern businesses have been overwhelming by the mandatory obligation or embracing new technologies. Any business only remains viable, relevant, and profitable if they integrate their operations with modern technology. Of interest is how new technologies have improved payments systems, enforced personal and financial security, refined and integrated diverse channels of communication, embraced mobile platforms, and transformed the traditional customer engagements, in modern businesses. Nonetheless, to contextualize how new technologies have imposed the foregoing list of changes on the modern business landscape, it is therefore important to highlight the most significant trends when relating technology to business. Consequently, the most significant business technology trends today, in every industry, and globally, include:
Trends Imposed by New Technology on Contemporary Business
Traditional businesses relied on cash payments, and in rare cases bank deposits and cheques. Today however, the same retail customers use credit cards, debit cards, Apple Pay, PayPal, Bitcoin, Google Pay, Western Union Transfers, and tens of other payment options that are mobile, easier, accurate, flexible, and convenient. All a customer needs may be a smartphone to do what previously took to do with cheques. With single click, customers buy what they need from anywhere, regardless of where the money is. Such payments then receive digitalized receipts, and can be reversed by a single click if need be. This explains why by the close of 2017, over US$ 270 billion will be transacted through mobile payments in a span of 12 months.
2) Security is Non-Negotiable
The rise of the internet and growth is usage among businesses and even government departments introduced perhaps the greatest security scare of the century. The Information Age activated an era where personal and financial information was threatened. It worsened until over 86% of all ecommerce portals recorded a critical vulnerability they had to live with. The patient in most cases was the customer who exposed their security by every online purchase. Having their Social Security number, personal details, medical histories, and financial details hacked had become the order of the day.
Today, fortunately, new technologies have consolidated security to absolute standards. Today, security standards have become a protocol, both in legislative enforcement and in business operations. Because of new technologies, security has become a priority, perhaps even more emphatic that it was before the Information Age.
3) Embedded Mobile Communications and Consumer Engagement
Over 11% of all internet users in the globe use a mobile device. This explains why most web development programs and updates in the last 4 years have been on mobile applications in ecommerce. Modern customers are nor preferring to communicate with businesses though mobile apps, before, during and after making a purchase. Over 89% of all communications today, between businesses and their customers (potential, current, or current) occur via mobile technology on video or mobile chat, messaging, and social media updates etc. Almost every business now has automated their platforms for online communication with consumers, with even some banks integrating Click-to-call functions on their ATMs. Customers can therefore contact and interact with a company to resolve their needs from assorted mobile devices that are affordable, convenient, easy to use, and embedded into their daily lifestyles such as in the social media.
4) Connected Mobile Devices for Real-Time Communication
The modern consumer lives by and with mobile digital connection, and communication is almost always in real time. A business can therefore not afford to engage passively with a mobile customer using traditional forms of communication. This explains why contemporary inventory management for instance, is maintained in real-time, updated accurately by the second, and notifies a retailer even before potential issues accrue. As this happens, the business maintains connected to the Internet of Things, where all purchases, orders, follow ups, deliveries, advertising, marketing and brand management have been centralized to the web. Today, even robots are thinking and replacing human workers in conducting business. The innovative applications of mobile technology therefore, have revolutionized how businesses are operated and managed, in most times reducing costs and boosting profitability.
5) Launching Wearable Technology for Business Operations
Just when the mobile communication has become an increasingly dynamic phenomenon that businesses can barely understand, new technologies have now taken a step further. Today, businesses have to come to terms with wearable technology connected to the web. One of the reasons why most companies prefer employing an in-house developer over hiring a freelancer, is to ensure progressive application of new technologies. From a simple watch worn by employees, a business maintains accurate and real-time communication in its operations. A watch will communicate the reduction of stock after a customer purchase to the inventory and help make immediate, automatic adjustments.
A business owner can even monitor where all the employees are at any time, what they are doing, and even communicate with them simply through a wearable watch. The Hitachi Business Microscope for instance, is not just an ID, but also a representation of what new technologies enable employees to wear around their necks. By wearing the ID, business managers give their employees infrared sensors, a microphone, accelerometer, and more in-built applications for monitoring, interaction, feedback, collaboration, and productivity centralized to an internal server.
6) Increased Reliance on Cloud Storage and Connectivity
Finally, it is also important to note that over 93% of all businesses globally, are using and relying on personalized business software saved in the cloud storage. Cloud storage endows contemporary business with timely, multi-user, and infinitely accessible connectivity to a business, and by so doing reducing maintenance, empowering growth, and harnessing mobile retailing. In effect, over 68% businesses today use cloud computing for over 20% of the business operations, thus reducing operational costs, increasing sustainable profitability, and eliminating redundant expenditures.
It is apparent from the foregoing highlights, that technology is the future of business, or more precisely, the future of business service concierge. Notably, however, the 6 trends discussed above are mutually progressive for both the customer and the retailer. On end, the trends are exclusively focused on customer demands (improved payments systems, nonnegotiable security, and embedded communication), and on the other end, are focused on business processes and efficiency (connected devices with real-time updates, wearable technology, and increased cloud use). Important to note, is that technology will only advance towards the future, and only the businesses that acknowledge, accept, embrace and transform in accordance to these new technologies will remain competitive, profitable, and sustainable in the future. Since modern businesses must necessarily be responsive to customer demands, the new technologies offer promising avenues to adapt to and embrace the needs and lifestyles of the Information Age consumer. New technologies, according to experts, define the future of online business, retail or otherwise.