From Augmented Reality to Internet of Things, Technology is redefining the way we do things. This is vital for entrepreneurs. In fact, each technology carries a host of business opportunities. Hence, the advantage lies in identifying them at the right time.
This is especially relevant for startups. A startup needs to be at par with latest technological trends. Identifying the next point of disruption is the key. In this article, we will enlist the tech trends to watch out for in 2017.
AI and machine learning is an umbrella of many technologies (e.g. Neural Networks, NLP, Deep Learning etc.). AI has moved beyond the phase where programmers write algorithms to create programs that understand, learn, predict, adapt and operate autonomously.
As mentioned previously, chatbots and digital assistants will dominate customer service in 2017. For example, the Google Digital assistant featured in Google Allo. It can fetch e-mails, make a note, check calendars, pop a joke, and much more. All in a simple IM window. There are 2 ways of deploying a bot:-
Third Party Service (takes care of the AI)
Write your own Machine Learning Code
With BI becoming more common among SMEs, data analytics will be the norm this year. More businesses are moving towards data-based decision making. Be it any management function, data analysis tools like Tableau, R, Minitab etc. can integrate well with any database.
For example, Google Analytics. An eCommerce store can measure the various sources of incoming traffic to their website, monitor hits across various product categories, check SKUs, and more. In a nutshell, a running overview of the enterprise available at a click.
With the growing usage of mobile devices among enterprises, the tasks performed on desktop and laptop computers have reduced. This means the concept of mobility can be used to perform business operations, hence empowering the employees to work from anywhere and anytime. The following examples portray scenarios of enterprise mobility at work:-
Enabling CEO with a tablet to get real-time statistics and KPIs of the projects
Empowering a retail sales person with an android device to perform checkouts and payments
Encouraging the sales team on the field to collaborate through a mobile web app
For example, after realizing that an increasing number of bank employees are accessing corporate resources through mobile devices, Standard Bank deployed the XenMobile solution from Citrix. This enabled Standard Bank employees to get access to corporate apps through mobile in a secure manner, irrespective of the location.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Other than mobile, devices like Oculus Rift, Hololens, Gear VR and Google VR will open a major revenue source for App developers. AR and VR have the potential of being the next drivers of consumer engagement. Many real estate developers have recently experimented with VR to give guided walkthroughs to their consumers.
We have already seen how AR has opened new avenues for Game developers. The recent success of Pokemon GO is an example. Moreover, the other ways in which AR can help businesses are:
Retail: Virtual fitting rooms
Check if furniture matches the surroundings (Ikea already did it)
Manufacturing: Monitor work progress using AR markers
GPS: Mobile apps which work with street signs
Augmented outdoor/print Advertising
AR interactive story books
The aforementioned trends present a pool of opportunities for SME entrepreneurs. Hence, a creative approach coupled with a clear vision can open new modes of consumer engagement.
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