Five disruptive technology forces that are set to dominate digital businesses

As you start allocating digital spend, it is imperative to understand and evaluate key digital technologies that are set to define the digital landscape. Here are five such technologies to watch out for.

06-Apr-2017

Thanks to the rapid adoption of smart phones and a gamut of mobile apps, consumer expectations are evolving at warp speed. Today’s digitally savvy consumers are comfortable with connected on-the-go interactions with businesses, across a range of product and services. What’s more? They expect exceptional and seamless digital experiences a la Google, Amazon and Apple. This makes superior consumer experience a key imperative for success today.

Businesses have been quick to recognize this fact. Despite the challenges posed by the lightning speed of technology evolution, players across industry sectors have been investing in digital solutions to deliver exceptional customer service and up their game. There is little doubt that businesses will need to continue these investments in digital transformation to emerge as winners in a complex and rapidly changing marketplace.

1# Increasing customer engagement via text conversations

Businesses are increasingly using short precise messages to interact with consumers and address their needs in real-time. In a world where messaging apps such as WhatsApp have over a billion subscribers, it’s clear that people not only prefer but are fluent with messaging as a mode of communication. In light of this, the need for precise business communication aimed at delivering service or product updates on-time cannot be over emphasized. Text conversations using instant messaging services apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have great potential to boost customer engagement and sales as they offer a richer consumer experience.

With chatbots taking over human interactions, businesses now have the ability to drive better customer engagement through simple and real-time product or service updates. Powered by advanced rules and algorithms, chatbots simulate human responses. They are gaining rapid popularity for their sophisticated features, efficiency, and ability to communicate precisely and effectively. Chatbots are likely to see wide spread adoption among: retailers and financial institutions for supporting customer service and eventually transactions, hospitals for providing outpatient care, and pharmacies for communicating drug related information.

A case in point is the American Express Facebook Messenger bot launched last year. The chatbot offers real-time account information to customers any time a purchase is made with their Amex card, and also provides complete information about past purchases.

2 # Investing in the digital trinity - mobile, AI and big data - to drive contextual experiences

Artificial intelligence (AI) based systems are gaining immense popularity and will become ubiquitous across every aspect of life and business. AI based learning systems are powered by highly sophisticated and advanced big data analytics. As this technology continues to evolve, it will result in wide ranging systems and applications that are highly context-aware and user friendly. Apps powered by AI will be used as 'personal assistants', designed to make relevant suggestions based on user behavior and preferences. The level of intelligence underpinning this new class of apps will redefine human interaction across every aspect of life. Their adoption rate is likely to be phenomenal, akin to the adoption of smartphones over the last decade.

According to a report, the AI enterprise applications market is estimated to go over $30 billion mark by 2025, with a strong focus on advanced big data analytics to uncover new intelligence, impact various aspects of business and tap into newer opportunities.

3 # Powering sales with mobile commerce

Mobile devices have spurred the growth of ecommerce way beyond initial expectations. They now account for 50% of traffic for online commerce. Rapid evolution and proliferation of smart devices have created a massive app economy, where millions of apps are now being used for daily activities, transactions and tasks.

However, the need to download and install an app before using it can complicate the path to purchase and act as a significant barrier. A study shows that over 80% of all downloaded apps are used only once and are eventually deleted. Businesses are therefore spending heavily on building mobile friendly websites - popularly called M.dot sites - that are equally responsive and easy to navigate. M.dot supports site optimization for mobile devices, enabling a rich app like user experience.

This has been a very successful strategy for many retailers who see more conversions on their mobile site as compared to their apps. Leading global retail chain Walmart, optimized their mobile ecommerce site design, leading to a 98% increase in its mobile sales.

4 # Ensuring tighter collaboration with open API

Some of the best user experiences have been built through collaboration on open Application Programming Interface (API). An open API allows third parties to use your software in ways that promote the mutual business needs of both organizations. Beyond solving a technology need, open APIs allow tighter integration with a larger business ecosystem, including vendors and suppliers, and improve collaboration, business processes and turnaround time. Open APIs have come a long way from conventional Representational State Transfer (REST) based interfaces. They enable highly sophisticated data security and privacy.

Retailers such as Amazon have open APIs that can be used by smaller sellers for easy integration with the Amazon marketplace. Travel and shipping companies also use API-based integration for passenger and goods tracking and reporting, while airlines provide real-time tracking of flights through standardized APIs.

5 # Aligning the digital organization with evolving business platforms

Organizations have been running on ERP and CRM, the building blocks of business models for ensuring smooth operations. However, digitization has changed the rules of the game. Customer-centricity is a key success factor for businesses across sectors today. This is compelling organizations to shift focus from product or service differentiation to customer experience. It has also prompted the development of newer platforms such as customer experience, customer insights, and contextual intelligence models. These platforms constitute the new-age ERP and CRM - the cornerstones of a digital enterprise - enabling greater customer-focus. Such modern platforms help organizations better understand customer behavior and build customer intelligence, allowing organizations to drive deeper engagement and enhance customer experience.

Vodafone Germany implemented a comprehensive customer experience (CX) platform to replace its siloed communication channels and deliver omni-channel customer experience. The new CX platform allows Vodafone to serve 18 million cross-channels contacts through a single contact center, every month. Comprehensive visibility into customer data helped the company accelerate call handling time by 30 seconds per contact, improving customer satisfaction and leading to an excellent net promoter score (NPS) of approximately 60.

Getting the most out of your investment: Making smart budget decisions

The disruptive impact of digitization is quite clear. While digital solutions offer tremendous potential to redefine your competitiveness, they also put a dent in your IT budget. It is therefore imperative to track, understand, and evaluate the trends that are setting the tone in the marketplace. The five digital technologies captured in this paper have been shortlisted based on the rate of actual adoption and IT spend in these technologies - across sectors. We believe this is a realistic indicator of things to come and can help you make informed choices on budgetary spends to maximize ROI on your digitization initiatives.