Category Archives: Business

Enterprise Tech Trend Predictions for 2018 and Beyond

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2017 was the year of disruptive innovation and 2018 will be about combining those disruptive tech innovations and putting them to work to fully experience their maximum business impact for enterprises. Taking into account the number of requests I received for a list of the enterprise tech trend predictions for 2018, I compiled six of the emerging trends that I believe will shape this year. This article will not only introduce potentially game-changing “new” technologies but also discuss what’s next with “now” technologies which have recently joined the established technology category.

Blockchain Will Continue To Evolve

Blockchain technology has been generating discussions since 2011, however, 2017 was the year when its real potential was unleashed. The reason behind this realization likely has so much to do with the drastic rise in the price of Bitcoin. What’s the next direction with this “now” technology? In 2018, blockchain will manage to spread outside of finance, including government, healthcare, manufacturing, media distribution, identity verification, title registry and supply chain.

In healthcare, for instance, IDC Health Insights predicts that 20% of organizations will have moved beyond pilot projects and will have operationalized blockchain by 2020. Speaking of vertical industries, the technology truly has huge potential to accelerate efficiency in the public sector. That being said, the initial point of bitcoin, for instance, was creating a tradeable currency which couldn’t be manipulated by governments. Therefore, it is hard to see how exactly this would play out but in 2018, we might see some governments adopting this technology as well.

In 2017, many capital ventures started hunting for companies that use blockchain technology in a creative and innovative way. In 2018, that exploration will come to fruition as we will see venture investors pouring big bucks into new cryptocurrency projects or blockchain startups. Good ideas are aplenty, however, because as Gartner agrees, many of the associated technologies will be immature for the next two to three years, blockchain investments may go through the same phase that artificial intelligence did. In the initial period of this technology taking off, we will witness some failed attempts that cause a costly waste of time.

Nevertheless, I believe, it will put us on the edge of our seats to watch how blockchain will continue to evolve from a digital currency infrastructure into a platform for digital transformation.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Hitting Mass Market

Although we have started to hear about the buzz for virtual reality more since 2015, the technology saw major improvement and penetration in the consumer market in 2017. Google has shipped more than 10 million Cardboard headsets since 2014, and it’s estimated to have sold between 2 million and 3.5 million Daydream devices in 2017 alone. Meanwhile, Samsung is on track to sell as many as 6.7 million Gear VR headsets this year, according to analysts.

As the swirl of AR/VR technology settled a bit in 2017, leaving a clear framework for the future, this year, it is expected to expand its footprints into the enterprise market. Targeted applications of VR and AR will start picking up speed but I do not think it will fully take off this year, at least not in the enterprise world. I predict it will reach that point in 2020. In fact, Deloitte LLP has a more specific prediction on the matter. “In 2018, there will be 1 billion AR apps on smartphones, and a billion users will create AR content at least once; currently 300 million users do so monthly,” Deloitte Vice-Chairman Paul Sallomi said in a statement. “By end of 2018, more than 800 million smartphones will have both an OS with dedicated AR support and sufficiently powerful hardware (CPUs, GPUs, DSPs and neural chips) to power them. Discrete app revenues for AR content and devices to be under $100 million globally in 2018.”

Top eCommerce Tech Trends to Watch in 2018 and Beyond

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1. Enhanced Customer Experience

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) keep changing customer experience as we know it. Using AR and VR solutions a customer may take a virtual tour around a digital store, place the virtual products onto the real world objects and try on virtual clothes. For example, the new app by Ikea allows its users to visualize furniture in their homes using the mobile’s camera.

AR can motivate shoppers to buy as they get more enhanced customer experience. In short, implementing AR and VR can be the greatest shift in eCommerce technology since its beginnings.

One more trend that fits here is the rise of voice search. Humans can speak 150 words per minute vs type 40 words per minute. As the accuracy of voice search and voice recognition becomes more precise, eCommerce retailers should optimize their site content to be searched appropriately.

2. Blockchain Technologies

We will watch blockchain-based eCommerce platforms appear as a separate segment in eCommerce. OpenBazaar can serve as an example of a peer-to-peer platform where transactions are made through cryptocurrencies. Each action by the buyer or seller generates a block and ‘proof of work’ in the marketplace, based on which the other entity acts. The blockchain technology is already used in digital currencies and will continue to be used not only for payment transactions but in eCommerce apps as well.

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

Machine learning can contribute valuable options to eCommerce software. Intelligent algorithms become instrumental in customer segmentation and personalization. They help to identify patterns in customer’s web browsing and thus create huge possibilities for personalized recommendations. Implementing these technologies can boost sales up to 15%.

Order and inventory management can become more efficient with inventory forecast and predict market demands. Shipping software may benefit from anticipatory shipping algorithms which may predict shipping demand before an order is made.

Chatbots and the rise of conversational commerce present a separate distinct trend in eCommerce tech. In 2018 chatbots will widen their functions, from supporting customer service routine to more complicated personal shopping assistance. As customers are getting used to the help of AI creatures we will see more ventures developing chatbots for every possible purpose.

4. Automation software

eCommerce operations can be efficiently improved by using automation. Areas of eCommerce routine that need automation are order and inventory management, cart abandonment solutions, email marketing tools, accounting and bookkeeping and social media management systems. As the number of online shops grows, there will be a sizeable growth in demand for any automation solution for eCommerce.

5. Multichannel eCommerce

With so many different shopping carts and marketplaces, the future of eCommerce is multichannel. Selling across several channels is the matter of omnipotent importance. As more eCommerce entrepreneurs are employing multichannel selling strategy, there is a greater demand for software that can communicate with various sales channels via APIs.

If you develop eCommerce software, you may be interested in using API2Cart’s unified data API. It allows integrating your software solution with 35+ shopping carts and marketplaces, making the software truly multichannel. Don’t waste precious time, contact our expert today to get a free trial.

Here’s 9 small business IT trends you cannot ignore in 2018

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    1. Faster Wireless Broadband
      WiFi is awesome. We seem to not be able to live without. Wireless carriers continue to evolve their networks and 5G wireless speeds are coming, soon. We’ll see 4G speeds evolving and getting faster, while 5G launches in more areas. I’ve found that 4G cellular connection is pretty much as good as WiFi speeds. However, with 5G you won’t even be looking for a WiFi spot.
    2. Going Global
      Although local SEO has received plenty of attention from techies, the fact remains that globalization will be the dominate eCommerce theme in 2018 and moving forward. A customer living in Brazil who wants to find the most affordable big screen television will search worldwide on the Internet for the best deal.

      Local commerce will still represent the majority of small business sales in 2018 in niches such as grocery and automotive. However, for products like furniture, appliances, and pharmaceuticals, the marketplace will evolve into a virtual global store. Already eBay, PayPal, Alibaba and other companies are bringing our worlds closer and closer together.

    3. Expect Cyber Security to Get More Complex
      Most small businesses do not have the financial power to recover from a rash of identity thefts, malware, and other security exploits. After the Equifax hacking incidents that happened in 2017, a new focus on developing more intricate firewalls and other security protections have emerged from IT conferences held throughout the world.

      In 2016, more than half of all unwanted website intrusions targeted businesses. 2018 will be the dawn of a new era of more complex security tools for small businesses to combat the increased threat of security hacks.

    4. The Use of Freelancers Will Grow
      From developing code for a website to integrating apps into online marketing programs, small businesses will increasingly turn to professionals who offer their expertise on a freelancing basis. As more companies adapt their business models expect companies to warm even more to using experienced freelances in lieu of employees.

9 small business IT trends you cannot ignore in 2018

  1. Generation Z Customers Want Personalization
    Is it possible to combine information technology with a personal approach to customer services? The answer better be yes, because that is what Generation Z wants from businesses. Generation Z comes from the age demographic years between 1996 and 2010. By 2022, Generation Z will represent nearly 40 percent of American consumers.

    Business owners will have to accommodate the desire for more personalized customer service by merging automated systems with personal interactions. Personalized customer service also involves social networking posts and sending emails about upcoming specials.

  2. Huge Technical Advancements for Virtual Reality
    It seems like this trend has appeared on the list for the past five years. Is this really the year virtual reality takes off? Small business owners and operators should expect virtual reality to reduce training costs by implementing creative virtual reality technology that allows employees to develop skills at their preferred paces. YouTube supports 360-degree videos; you can expect demand for the technology to come from customers who want to explore how your products perform.
  3. Speaking of Videos
    You can humanize and personalize your brand by using videos in your marketing. All the social platforms support and encourage native video. No longer is it enough to upload a video to YouTube, you must now think about video on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can use video to share your thought leadership and educate a customer to a sale. You can also use video to showcase how your product or service can benefit a customer.
  4. AI will Be Important for Businesses
    Many business owners believe incorporating artificial intelligence technology with their IT platforms is cost prohibitive. However, in 2018, you cannot ignore the cost of not using AI. Around 60% of businesses already collect information by implementing artificial intelligence strategies.

    AI is here to stay and small business owners will fall behind if they ignore the critical technology. Many vendors such as Salesforce and Intuit are already using AI in their solutions to benefit their business customers. AI helps you gain more insight from data, respond better to customers needs and more.

  5. Branding Will Become Personal
    It used to be CEOs sat behind a desk all day and let their employees be the face of the brand. That mindset has changed dramatically, as CEOs have learned the importance of presenting their personal brands online. Consumers want to see the face of a company, and personal branding makes that happen. The same principle applies to small businesses, as savvy operators take to Twitter to answer customer questions and interact with potential customers in real time from their small business websites.