In this mobile world, the focus shifts to the mobile user who is surrounded by a mesh of devices extending well beyond traditional mobile devices. While communication objectives have remained consistent, the vehicles and approach have dramatically shifted over the past few years. Internet web, social media and chat platforms are the preferred way to reach Y-Generation customers, which presents a huge opportunity for business to use messaging and chat apps to expand their customer base.
In 2016, we have seen personalized messaging, chatbots technology in messaging apps, texts on every transaction either done from ATM or payment website or any other gateway. If messaging is so useful and so popular…why do we only message with our friends and family? Why can’t we message our banks to get a bill paid? Why not the airline, or the local bakery? If those channels open up to allow messaging businesses and service providers, then how does it change our relationship with them? Will we now use something like a travel agent, when I’ve never used one before? Will it change how we communicate with insurance companies, doctor’s offices, and department stores? These questions are still unanswered and here is the flashback for 2016:
Messaging as platform is becoming the norm
In general, phone and email are not the quickest way to communicate anymore, nor the choice method of communication. Businesses are now grabbing text, video, chat, screen and file sharing in addition to email and phone communications. In consumer circles, emoticons and stickers are there for more expressive communication, while Business users are leveraging more professional services as a part of some messaging platforms.
Messaging apps are increasingly becoming the “primary home screen” for many users, businesses are also targeting these apps to stay in front of their customers.
Messaging can change this: Inspite of mobile platforms, notification permissions, app stores, installs, we will have messaging platforms, ads and chat start buttons to start conversation with any Business rep. Later, to be found by consumers will be hard, and there might be a first-mover advantage to come up early on any new channel.
For example, Chatbots came on the scene in 2011 as BI, AI and messaging platforms combined into new forms of responsive technology. Now in 2016, its ranked on number 10. Today, chatbots can be seen as easy and fun ways to help customers achieve an outcome. We will encounter them in helpdesk section of web sites, social media and even on our smartphones. Bots represent a new trend of the robotic communication, how people access information, make decisions and solve their queries using pre-defined content. Chatbots technology has set a trend in a new form of digital access, which centers on messaging. They will bring commerce into daily part of our lives, and open up new opportunities.
This is a big year for a shift in the availability for backend services to access any platform. Here’s the current landscape:
- SMS: It took years of complex business development by players like Twilio, Nexmo, Solutions Infini, etc who have gone carrier to carrier and cutting deals with their hard work. There are finally now decent APIs for sending text to anyone in the world. However, it remains ridiculously expensive to send messages and soon there will also be some innovations on the content or interaction of every SMS.
- WhatsApp: New public statements by WhatsApp indicate that they have started to think about the business-to-user messaging use case scenarios.
- Twitter DMs API: Twitter has taken some steps in enabling customer support scenarios and promoting the initial public complaints into a private Direct Message.
- WeChat and Line already have platforms as they have some distinction between subscription style bots (mostly for marketing) and more one-on-one direct messaging interactions.
- Telegram has a well-grounded bot platform.
Internet of Things and the connected users will change how the world communicates
Machines have long been a staple of business, but in 2016 they really start joining the conversation. The connected devices are starting to transmit real-time business data that people use the whole day. As systems develop, there will not only be one-way communication with machines, but more interactive business communications that might involve the devices like Beacons, etc.
By 2025, there will be more than 50 billion connected devices, equating to seven devices per person. The impact of IoT will be as big as the invention of light, impacting everyone across the industries.
For example, Johnnie Walker Blue Label smart bottles, track supply chain information with location based data, but may be one day begin to communicate with the customers on how they want to review the product.
Interface is changing every year
Over the past few decades, the primary way to interact with internet, and our computers, has not changed dramatically. We have gone from physical keyboards to touch screens, but the action itself hasn’t changed yet.
Voice input is though dramatically changing the way we use our devices. Voice input is faster and easier than typing, and can be personalized better. It does require natural language processing (NLP), but it has a low cost and footprint.
Voice recognition accuracy is improving speedily and the use of mobile voice assistant and voice search queries are growing fast. By 2020, 50% of all the searches will be either thru voice or image searches. iPhone sales dropped for the first time in a decade or so in 2016, while Amazon Echo sales continue to rise.
Connected Cars & mTransportation
Automotive technology is growing tremendously, and the car could become the next big computing platform. Today Connected cars are already making a splash in the market, with companies like Apple and Google.
Car automation and safety features continue to enhance, and millions of miles have been driven in autonomous vehicles so far. Regulators are typically slow to adopt any innovative technology but it is quiet necessary to advance the automotive industry. Growth in autonomous vehicles present new opportunities for entertainment and customer engagement during road trips and daily commutes as well.
The automobile can also become the next aspect of mobility. About half of the surveyed millennials said that they expect their vehicle’s technology to be capable of doing everything that their smartphone can.
Disruptors revolutionizing the business landscape
When people think of disruptors, they consider small startups who approach a market in a unique way. Many of those once-small startups grow enormously and they are causing major problems for incumbent firms.
Consider internet giant Amazon and legacy retailer Walmart. Amazon has a bit higher market cap than Walmart ($341bn vs $222bn), and is growing its revenue at 20% year after year, while Walmart’s revenue is falling 1% year after year. The same trends have seen in online marketplace and even the enterprise. Business leaders should begin planning a contingency plan soon for dealing with potential disruptors, and understand how to remain innovative and unique.
Virtual Reality will go mainstream
This is a good chance we have heard about VR in Public Relations, but not many companies have cracked the code on making it to be an effective PR tool. Instead of spending marketing dollars on Advertisements, which can easily get blocked, 2016 was the year, PR and marketing pros tested the waters of VR.
Few examples of early adopters of VR creating virtual experiences for people:
- The New York Times’VR mobile app, which simulates unbelievable experiences across the globe.
- Adrian Grenier’s underwater VR experience, “Cry Out: The Lonely Whale,” which transports people into the depths of sea to witness the underwater life and how pollution has disrupted the sea
- Qantas launched a pilot program which tests VR goggles with first-class travelers, both in-flight and its executive lounge
Final takeaway, there is a tremendous amount to build in every field of technology. Its 2016 and unfortunately we still can’t message a business like you would do a friend. Still we don’t have connected homes & connected cars to leverage the IoT platform on a big scale. Let’s innovate & enhance more as we are currently in the revolution, and there is still so much more to come.
Shall we discuss now about the trends to be seen in 2017? Leave your comments below.