By Matt Sandford
Every year, technology makes it slightly easier for Shropshire businesses to communicate both within themselves and with their customers. Let’s look at some of the trends, and what might be coming up soon.
More remote working
For many people, the mobile revolution has already occurred and technology is evolving to reflect the fact that most of us who work can do some of that work on the go. Remote working has risen by a fifth in the last decade with over 1.5 million people in the UK regularly working from home or on the move.
That trend is spearheaded by technology, as broadband connectivity, email, messaging apps, conference calling and video conferencing make it easier to do everything you would normally do in the office, remotely. This will only increase this year.
Surge in social selling
The trend of using social media and networks to communicate directly with customers is growing. Part of a general move away from more intrusive forms of advertising, it’s potentially a smarter way to network and can deliver some serious results.
Research by Feedback Systems in 2016 claimed 61% of companies that use social selling saw a positive increase in revenue. Most of the activity was centred on LinkedIn and Twitter though Adidas famously launched a social campaign on WhatsApp, aimed at creating communities of like-minded people in a ‘dark social experiment’. That’s ‘dark’ as in ‘difficult to measure’ but using the app as a platform to build interest ahead of other messaging.
Shorter, less sophisticated videos
Around half of YouTube traffic now comes via mobile and that’s only likely to rise. Further research shows that a one-minute video is 50% more likely to be watched than a two-minute video. Combine this with the fact that more people are making and posting their own videos, and shoppers are increasingly relying on them to choose what they buy. Popularity has been driven by amateur (and not so amateur) vloggers but we can expect to see this less sophisticated style to be increasingly adopted by brands.
Growth of the cloud
Research carried out last year showed that 93% of businesses are using some form of cloud solution, and this is continuing to grow. Cloud use can range from bespoke services created specifically for larger companies, to smaller businesses that use online storage and collaboration services like Box or Office 365.
More mobile payments
It is predicted that the global market for online payments will reach $780bn in 2017 (up from $450bn in 2015) and over $1tn by 2019. Samsung Pay was expected to arrive in 2016 but the rumours are strong that it will make an appearance in the next quarter of 2017. It’s expected to incorporate both Near Field Communication and traditional magnetic stripe payments so that it should work with virtually any credit card reader. Mobile-only banking services such as Mondo and mobile payment systems like Android Pay are also growing in popularity, moving us just a little closer to a cashless society.
A little more Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality and augmented reality continue to be developed, with new possibilities trickling through this year. From the obvious gaming possibilities creating new options for tech companies, to Facebook’s much-touted acquisition of Oculus Rift which could lead to virtual reality becoming much more commonplace. Marketers are increasingly using virtual reality to help their brands stand out, from Coca Cola to McDonalds, Top Shop to Volvo. And even smaller startup companies like Mercaux are looking into the technology – they’re considering adapting their online retail technology that compares various garments to include virtual reality content.
And looking further ahead, Emteq is working on FaceTeq, a facial sensing platform that can track emotional interaction, and could lead to the next big leap in virtual reality.
Automatic ordering on the increase
Amazon has seen success with its Dash buttons which allow shoppers to order replacements of everything from toilet roll to coffee at the push of a button. Carling recently produced a similar button for its beer. As these and other devices grow in popularity more household goods may be ordered automatically and brands will need to work hard to be included as shoppers leave brand choice to the delivery mechanism.
*Matt Sandford is managing director of Pure Telecom in Shrewsbury
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