Four digital transformation trends you need to know
I’m not exaggerating when I say digital transformation has moved from a nice-to-have to a business imperative. But let’s face it: There are so many technologies coming at us today that it’s often difficult to know which to adopt and which to bypass. Being successful in today’s marketplace means utilizing the digital transformation trends that can do the most good for your company and allow you to keep pace with — or outpace — your competition.
Knowing what’s hot and what’s not isn’t the most important aspect of successful tech adoption. In today’s marketplace digital transformation trends change every single day. The trick is to get curious and find ways that today’s technologies can grow or disrupt your business. I believe the following technologies have the highest potential to do that at this stage of the game, in practically every industry.
1. Location services
Yes, we all have GPS on our phones by now. What I’m talking about is the ability to personalize a customer’s shopping or service experience by gathering information on their location at a certain point in time — whether it be on the road or within your physical store or restaurant.
Think about it: Do you know how many times a customer has left your store because they couldn’t find the product they were looking for? How many times someone has driven past your restaurant because the parking lot looked too full? How many times someone got so frustrated that they couldn’t find your office location within a giant medical complex that they decided to find a provider altogether?
Geolocation allows you to get to the customer before those frustrations arise, pointing out the closest empty parking spot, proactively telling them which door to enter through, or letting them know the exact shelf on which their needed product can be found. No more lost sales. No more frustrated customers. Location services are where it’s at.
OK, I know it sounds like I’m jumping the gun on blockchain when it comes to digital transformation trends — and that may be true. Regardless, blockchain is definitely trending. Yes, it will take a while before it becomes a common technology throughout the business landscape. But for now, even the promise of smart contracts is shaking up nearly every industry.
With blockchain, smart contracts have the potential to save exponential amounts of time and money, eliminating the need for middle men, agents, paper trails and project managers to move contracts forward and enforce their fine print. Blockchain is a technology that promises disruption at every level.
3. AI and machine learning
I don’t want to sound pushy, but this is one area where you must get on board if you aren’t already. In fact, I’d say artificial intelligence isn’t just a digital transformation trend — it’s a necessary part of today’s data-driven world.
When it comes to marketing, AI and machine learning can help you gain the customer insights you need. They can automatically edit your e-marketing campaigns and home screens based on real-time effectiveness. They can allow you to make your marketing even more personalized. Without AI and machine learning, your company will be at a definite disadvantage. Indeed, without them, you may as well not bother gathering data at all.
4. Voice-based marketing
Did you know that nearly 50 percent of Americans use digital assistants like Alexa and Siri?1 This is one of the reasons I caution against jumping aboard every digital transformation train that comes along. I think the unexpected explosion of growth within voice-based marketing is one of the main reasons many companies are dropping their mobile-first strategies. They realize that there might be a bigger market on-hand. Indeed, by 2020, 50 percent of all searches may be voice initiated. That means companies need to optimize not just for desktop or mobile, but for voice, as well.
For instance, during the Super Bowl, Domino’s linked with Alexa to offer voice-based pizza orders.2 Users simply had to say, “Alexa, ask Domino’s for my easy order,” and the pizza was automatically ordered from the nearest location. If your head is exploding, don’t worry. It just requires that we all wrap our heads around a new (again) way of marketing.
Like I said, there’s no need to go crazy and implement each of these technologies today. Even the most tech-savvy company needs to take stock of their business goals and make critical decisions about which digital transformation trends will really help their businesses. Still, an important point to keep in mind: A report by Forrester discusses the concept of digital debt, or the losses you’ll incur by hanging on to legacy and lagging systems. While many may think they’re saving money by getting by with outdated tech, they’re actually doing a huge disservice to their employees and customers both.
Leaders today need to know there’s no end to digital transformation. Hop on the train, but know the train will always keep moving, and you’ll need to move right along with it. At the end of the day, these are the tools your competitors will most likely be using to market and grow their own businesses. It’s time to consider how they may also grow yours.