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What competitive advantages will 2019 bring us from the world of Digital Marketing & Digital Operations aka SaaS?

by  David Dwyer on  30/01/2019

What's new for 2019 and does it really matter?

It is common in the pre and post-Christmas period to be inundated with articles extolling the hot new trends, exciting technology and all things shiny in general.  A bit like advent calendars this flurry of activity is driven by the way we arrange our calendars far more than anything to do with the development cycle of new technology, which tends to proceed regardless of season or snow.

That raises the question as to whether all this typographic hyperbole has any real value, does it help an average business make decisions regarding the direction that they will take in the coming year?  Sadly, not really.  Change in commerce is most often driven by need or necessity, which then spawns invention – the need to upgrade existing systems, the need to address new challenges, the need to improve systems or offerings. It is very rarely driven by the advancing of the clock.

So, having taken a big swipe at the crystal-ball gazers, what do businesses need to know for the new year?  There will be advances in technology, but they won't come out of the blue, some of the more relevant ones, for instance, the marriage of business information with Google maps - is already established and will only accelerate.  You may choose to employ it to better advertise your business (and you should) but it won’t suddenly appear like a magical unicorn.

Right, no unicorns, but a few brief thoughts on what might impact us all in the coming year (or so...!)

Edge computing in marketing and retail environments.  Edge computing is in part a result of the Internet of Things (IoT) and involves performing more processing at the edges of the network – hence the name.  There are potential advantages in terms of data flow and information management, with less moment-by-moment reliance on centralised data centres.  If you are involved in bricks and mortar retailing and you are already embracing technology such as beacons, Edge computing may have an impact on you.

An integral component of Edge Computing is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). We appreciate that A.I. has been the next-big-thing for years now, but there seems to be a growing acceptance within the industry that the adage – ‘garbage in, garbage out’ applies to A.I. as well. Consequently, we can expect to see better constructed datasets feeding A.I. applications with improvements in the resulting outcomes.  If that means the certain dominant online retailers stop recommending the item you have just purchased, that will be a significant step forward!  Humour aside, A.I. will increasingly impact upon all our lives, both as consumers and as businesses.  Much of the personalised content we have discussed previously in earlier Insights relies on the sort of number crunching and machine learning that comes from Artificial intelligence.  A good overview of these ongoing trends can be found here.

Another technology that could start to gain traction after years of sitting on the edges of various developments is Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR & AR).  So far, we have seen these technologies mostly used in the gaming and leisure market, probably because their developers felt that these sectors would be more open to them, however both could radically affect retailing – on the high street and online.

Imaging being able to see yourself wearing the jacket you’re thinking of buying on Amazon?  How about taking a full, three-dimensional tour of a house you’re interested in, or a holiday property you’re considering.  These are all real possibilities and you can expect to see growth of this technology for some time to come.

Maps and Marketing.  Google are already increasingly embedding business information into their maps as anyone who regularly uses them for getting about will be aware.  This is a trend that we can expect to accelerate following changes Google made to their Maps app in 2018.  We’ve already talked about aspects of this with Google My Business Listings and Google Knowledge Graph

For most businesses, 2019 will bring more of the same.  Managing your search results will still matter, indeed it will matter more in an increasingly competitive marketplace.  Ensuring that your website or online store is fit for purpose continues to be a solid investment, because customers are less inclined to hang around sites that are not quick and efficient.

Embracing mobile computing, recognising the fact that the number of customers choosing to access the web via mobile devices (browser or app based) is still increasing, is critical and unlikely to change.  As consumers we have all become increasingly comfortable with shopping online on our phones, booking events on our phones, finding directions on our phones.  If they had equipped the crew of the Starship Enterprise with a single, pocket-sized device that did all of that we would have pointed and laughed at how outlandish it was.

Another opportunity that we see but is yet to be developed is IVR Systems, more widely known as Inbound Business Call Management, this is where you traditionally get presented with "Press 1 for Sales; 2 for Support; 3 for Accounts; etc".

We believe this will continue to evolve towards:

"Press 1 to amend your appointment"; which on press your taken to your appointment booking on your mobile web browser.

In essence this starts to integrate Chat Bots (which are not yet fully functioning, but with AI (Expert System, Heuristics aka Decision Trees) in Smart Speaker technology (Google Home, Alexa, Siri, Cortana) improving we are getting closer) with the use of the telephone.

Today it is our reality and if your website cannot cope with the mobile environment you will find yourself being left behind.

While technology marches on, for most businesses, especially SMEs, it is more important to optimise what they are already doing rather than worry excessively about the latest new trend.

As web specialists you wouldn’t expect us to reject technology, far from it, but we are realistic about the difference between what might be, and what is, and where the balance between them lies.  Ultimately technology exists to serve business, not to control it, and knowing the difference between those positions can ensure that you benefit without sinking investment into options that may only realise marginal returns.

If you are facing up to 2019 unsure if you have the correct technology in place to support and grow your business, Inspire are ready to discuss where you are and where you want to be.  We have a broad range of offerings to help you realise your vision backed up by industry-leading knowledge of strategy and technology that will work for you.

Contact us and make 2019 the year that your technology works harder for you.

CRM, Digital Trends, e-commerce, e-Marketing, Google for Jobs, Google Trends, Internet of Things, KGPO, Knowledge Graph, Local SEO, Location Based Digital Marketing, m-commerce, Mobile Apps, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Websites, PHP, Proximity Marketing, SaaS, Search Engine Optimisation, Selling, Server Infrastructure, Social Proof, Software as a Service Application Development, The Evolving Web, Web Consultancy, Website Management
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