It should come as no surprise that the highest-growth businesses in the world in 2019 were in the technology, entertainment, and online retailing industries. According to Fortune, China-based online retailer Momo was at the top of the heap for global growth last year. That’s a major indicator, in my view, of things to come in the 2020s.
A quick assessment of the top-growth companies on the Fortune list this year reveals that these high-flyers focused on transforming customer relationships. They committed to increasing their impact and influence in the market by giving customers a reason to care, a reason to listen, a reason to engage, and most importantly a reason to buy.
But looking a little deeper, you’ll find that these growth champions tapped into one or more of these tech trends to enable digital transformation.
1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
If you think the use of artificial intelligence isn’t in the cards for your business, think again. According to Forbes, the growth of AI was one of the biggest stories in the last decade and is likely to continue in the 2020s. Something as simple as an automated Netflix movie recommendation or Amazon product suggestion is an example of how AI can be used to grow a business, and you can harness that same power in your industry.
In addition to product suggestions for customers, AI can now be used to help fill in forms and generate reports, as well as in contactless payment systems and all sorts of paperwork. The process of “mass payments” are now automated through services like PayPal, turning what was once hours of work into just a few easy clicks. And we’re so accustomed to this way of paying now that the cultural memory of paying over the phone, or even in person, is nearly entirely lost.
But the idea behind integrated AI is not necessarily the ease, convenience, functionality—although those things are wonderful. The real point is that these features free us busy humans from dull, repetitive chores so that we can concentrate on more important or rewarding tasks. Ultimately, this is the real reason why AI will continue to flourish—once people get used to having that extra time they’re only going to want more of it. AI’s efficiency and effectiveness can only expand alongside with this ongoing demand.
2. Actionable Analytics
One of the important things the big tech companies have figured out is how vital data is to the future of any business. From big industry to entertainment to education, data drives decision-making. Some experts predict that the companies that are still ignoring this and “going with their gut” in 2020 won’t be in business in 2021. These days, there are plenty of data analytics platforms out there to fit the needs of any company.
Microsoft HDInsight is one example of some of the data analytics available to companies. In addition to processing data, these platforms are designed to protect your data as well, since digital privacy is becoming one of the hot topics of the day. Analytics that are comprehensive and actionable, as well as safe and private, will be in high demand for the foreseeable future and will drive brands to success by motivating customers in a curated and personalized way.
3. Conversational Commerce and Personalization
One of the advantages of using AI and data analytics is that it gives businesses increased opportunities to personalize services. With all that customer knowledge, experts say companies have a unique chance to tailor what they offer to individuals rather than just throwing their products into the crowd. As the quality of AI and analytics continues to rise, personalization will expand with it, gradually closing the gap between life offline and online, and making shopping and purchasing even more second nature than it is today.
But the greatest benefit of personalization is convenience. Mobile businesses continue to cash in on consumers with busy lifestyles who need quick ways to communicate, purchase, and make a whole range of decisions. But this issue is not restricted only to big companies. Mobile car-washing, hairdressers, manicurists, and the like, will be able to capitalize on the same AI-driven transformation and data analytics to increase their impact locally.
4. Autonomous Drones
There’s a good chance your local television news station is already using drone technology. But there are a lot of uses for drones other than just recording videos or taking pictures for local weather reports.
There are companies, for example, like Precision Hawk of North Carolina, which employs drones to inspect such things as oil wells and utility lines. What used to take a team of workers a tremendous amount of hours at some risk can now be done quickly and safely with drone technology. Surveyors and mapping companies are doing the same.
It’s not just safety thats at issue, however—it’s speed and convenience. We’ve all heard of Amazon’s experimental programs with drone deliveries, but there are companies today using drones to move merchandise around within warehouses. Walmart has even filed for a patent for drones that would help shoppers locate merchandise within a store. And as drones drop in price and as designers develop them—making them available in more shapes and sizes and able to take on more complicated tasks—the 2020s will see small local businesses, not just brand name giants, taking advantage of their use.
The predictions are that the number of workers in the so-called “gig economy” will continue to grow enormously in 2020. The proliferation of technology makes it easier for companies to hire temp workers for short-term projects. Not only does it save money, but companies can choose from an expanding pool of talent. Hiring a freelancer might be the perfect way to explore expanding your own company without committing to the full-time expense.
For workers, taking advantage of freelancing and independent contracting allows a better balance for work and home life, since they can take on as much or as little work as they want. Depending on the project, some work can be done from home.
Increasingly, consumers as well as workers want access to the flexibility that’s only possible through the use of online portals. And what’s more, now any hobby—sewing, painting, graphic design—can become a bonified contract-based income stream instead of an idle pastime. Between gigs, consumer-workers shop for goods and services, and as time is freed up and gig-based economies grow, there will only be more demand for loose and lean contract work in the 2020s. Such environments allow not only individual careers but businesses of all sizes to grow exponentially.
The main idea: the tech trends of 2010s will one by one reach their various peaks in the 2020s. These familiar tools will become sleeker, more personalized, and less costly for small businesses as time goes on. That means that using them never has to be a burden—quite the opposite. Altogether, the use of these products can be a boon for brands looking to improve customer relationships and find unique ways to increase their impact and influence any consumer audience.
Sign up for the TopRight blog! Start thinking about how you can tap into these key trends to help your business win in 2020. If you start increasing your impact and influence with customers, the New Year promises to be a prosperous one! If you’d like to receive a steady flow of insights related to marketing measurement heading into next year, please follow me @TopRightPartner, connect with me on LinkedIn, subscribe, or buy a copy of my latest book, Marketing, Interrupted.