As we come to the end of another year, most of us will spend tonight with family, friends and maybe even colleagues, reflecting on the year that was. The things we’re proud of, the things we’re happy with, what we accomplished and what is still left on that annual to do list. But instead on reflecting on the year that was, let’s use the last day of the year to look to the future. How can your business be more resilient, more agile, more efficient and more successful in 2018? How can you create a better culture, a better environment for your employees to thrive in? How can you do more with less and drive better results for your bottom line?
In the current changing environment, there are new technologies and new phenomena that see some businesses surge forward with success, while others get left behind. The way to stay ahead with the successful ones without falling behind is by knowing what these influences are, understanding how they impact your business and either responding with resilience or leveraging them inside your business operations or offerings.
The influences that will change the game for businesses of all sizes in 2018 are…
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is a breakthrough technology that most small to medium business owners are still a little hesitant about. In 2017, Salesforce conducted a survey that found 61% of small business owners do not believe their business is ready for AI. It has particular value to the customer service and sales departments; however, the future of AI will develop and expand. What we want our clients to understand is that AI doesn’t have to be unrealistic and unapproachable. In fact, it makes your life easier if you use it in the right way. For example, in a lead driven business, AI platforms available will analyse incoming leads, response patterns and customer journeys, identifying trends and patterns for you so your team can focus their attention and efforts strategically. It takes out hours of manual analysis and labor and replaces it with automated analysis and results. Invest in educating yourself about the AI available to you and you will be able to identify where it can provide cost effective solutions for your business.
Blockchain was a buzz throughout 2017 with the rise and popularity of Cryptocurrencies but the technology underpinning Cryptocurrencies has multi-faceted uses and applications for small and medium business. Blockchain technology is a decentralized ledger system with a built-in consensus mechanism. A group of users form the ‘chain’ and a transaction recorded within the chain is the ‘block’ with each block is assigned to a specific user. The chain is designed to execute tasks exactly as specified and instead of a human validating and monitoring this, the chain is validated by each user within the network as everyone’s records should align. For Australian small and medium businesses, it has some obvious benefits. Easier, faster, direct payment is one advantage between customer and supplier. This removes third-party processing and banking delays as it is completely instant. Safety and transparency is another advantage as the decentralized record management system means fraud and breaches are far more difficult to facilitate. Blockchain technology within the supply chain could be incredibly valuable as it creates a transparent platform for all stakeholders if you have a chain complex enough to warrant it. As the technology develops further, so too will its practical applications for businesses so stay up to date with how this can impact your organization.
Virtual Reality was one of the biggest phenomena of 2017, however we don’t believe that enough businesses grasped how powerful it could be for them and how to really use it. Consumers do so much research these days and decisions are never made lightly so providing as much realistic marketing, sales driven material is highly valuable. This is where VR comes in. You can enhance the customer journey by allowing them to see, feel and experience the products or services you are selling. For example, clothing retailers can provide virtual try-on experiences. Architects can provide VR experiences of the structures they design allowing clients to have a visual process. We were lucky enough to work with a VR business in early 2017, Immerse, who developed an incredible B2B solution for architects and builders. Their technology was so advanced that you could actually walk around inside the space using the goggles and change surface finishes, move walls and interior features and see the change in real-time.
So, whatever your industry, if you want to stay ahead of the game you need to learn how these three changing forces of business can impact your operations and offerings. By educating yourself and understanding what has value to you, you can take advantage of these technologies in a way that will revolutionise your business in 2018. May the next year be your best yet.
Happy New Year from the Langano Business Strategists Team