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In this article, we look at a few key business trends of 2017 in different sectors and how they are redefining technology and business strategy this year. Plus, we analyze the logic and reasoning behind these global trends, how they are reshaping industries, and the ways in which you can utilize them to further your business and get an edge over the competition.
The trends we discuss below include both emerging business as well as technological models. They offer great opportunities for businesses to create value for their customers and gain more revenue and market share.
Customer Centric Approach
Businesses are focusing on understanding customer needs and providing them personalized experiences. They are utilizing omnichannel and digital communication mediums to engage their customers and offer them what they want. Companies that are not customer centric are sure to get left behind.However, customer centricity is not easy to achieve as it involves a host of factors such as technology, and company structure and mindset. The focus is not on a company’s services and products, but on the customers and clients. To implement this strategy, companies need to use omnichannel solutions to get an all-round view of customer needs across the different touch points. This will help them understand users and build close relationships with them moving from traditional segmentation to trendy hyper-personalization. In this manner they can provide delightful customer experiences and give users what they need, when they need it. To do this, businesses need to develop new methodologies such as user experience design, service design, and design thinking to create convenient user journeys across channels. Plus, they can utilize predictive analytics to learn about the intentions of each customer and predict their future needs.Companies such as Amazon, Google, and Uber have invested heavily on technology and training to create frictionless customer experiences. For this reason, they have become global leaders in today’s digital economy.
There are two main types of micro economy: Pay-by-X such as pay-per-hour rental and pay-per-mile insurance and Micro-X such as micro-donations and micro-payments.This trend is happening because technology and resources have become democratized and affordable which has raised the living standards of people who previously were not able to pay for these services and products.Micro economy products and services help the underprivileged and they are lucrative too for businesses due to technologies such as Blockchain that have drastically reduced the cost of transactions. For this reason, companies can get a lot of revenue due to the high number of deals and transactions though the margins are small.
This trend involves owning the interface for customer supply. Uber does not own any vehicles, Facebook does not create any content, and accommodation provider Airbnb does not own any real estate.Sharing economy involves less privacy, more openness, and increased social interaction. It shifts consumer trust from big institutions to dispersed social networks. This results in a more personalized and humanized customer experience. Sharing economy companies like Uber and Airbnb have become popular because they help people get additional income.Another development arising from the sharing economy model is the utilization of crowd wisdom and resources through peer-to-peer, crowdsourcing, and crowdfunding applications which leads to the generations of fresh solutions and ideas that bypass conventional methods.
This trend is also called “disintermediation”. It has changed the model of distribution by eliminating the middleman as the services are delivered directly to consumers.
For example, direct-to-consumer company Tesla eliminates car dealers and sells directly to consumers while Netflix does not need the help of cable companies as it delivers content directly to users.The advantages of the direct-to-consumer business model are that companies can bypass expensive middlemen and build more intimate relationships with their customers. At the same time, consumers also benefit as they get more personalized experiences and products.
Self-service enables customers to find or do what they require using automated solutions without needing the help of experts. Both companies and consumers benefit from this trend. Businesses can save money by replacing customer support agents with technology, while consumers can resolve issues on their own quickly and easily.The self-service model has traditionally been popular in industries such as travel and shopping. Now, sectors such as banking are using it as customers can deposit checks utilizing mobile devices, while the healthcare industry lets patients perform some lab tasks at home. The popularity of the self-service trend has received a boost with companies using chatbots for customer support.
Intelligent machines are driven by sophisticated algorithms and examples are Internet of Things (IoT) products run by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Autonomous cars are a well-known type of smart machines. A McKinsey report states that robotics AI and will create value worth $50 trillion by the year 2025.Conversational User Experience products such as chatbots and Amazon’s Alexa are using natural communication channels without screens to engage users. Plus, technologies such as predictive analytics, machine learning, and neural networks are becoming smarter the more they are used.Smart devices are likely to generate more value when they are connected to infrastructure such as smart homes. Such trendy innovations are in their early stages and are likely to get a boost with use of smart machine technology.
Application Programming Interface (API) is used by many leading companies to enable users to create integrated solutions. APIs have become popular and are driving digital transformation because they enable agile product creation, integration with third-party software systems, swift introduction of fresh features, and innovation using crowdsourced events such as virtual challenges and hackathons. Companies that are making good use of APIs include Citi, Uber, PayPal, Twilio, and Stripe.
The main concept that is common to all the business innovation trends discussed in this article is customer centricity. This strategy can be executed by overhauling technology and organization structure, and realigning services and products. The task is difficult but since the benefits are immense these business innovation trends, along with a robust innovation management system, have become indispensable for companies to survive in intensely competitive industries and markets.