Thinking about firing up your very own start up? Well, you’re not alone; an estimated 42 million small businesses are expected to be in full operation by 2026 in the US alone. But as you formulate your plan and lay out a business strategy, it’s crucial to keep track of all the macro trends and predictions that could heavily impact your young venture.
Whether the changes are in marketing, technology, finance, or even public policy, entrepreneurs have to be aware of all these external factors and their internal operations as well. To that end, Veloxy has compiled 6 major trends and predictions that we believe will have the most significant impact on SMEs in 2020 and beyond.
A: Technology and Cyber Security
- AI – Rise of the Machines
Although it was initially thought of as best left to tech titans with mountains of customer data, artificial intelligence is now accessible to even the smallest of SME’s in 2019. By 2020, more and more SMBs are expected to adopt and embrace AI as an irreplaceable competitive asset – using it to unlock customer insight, automate mundane admin tasks, among other functions.
Research also shows that half of all SMB owners are excited by automation tech with 87% of those believing it will have a positive impact for them over the next 5 years. So even as you gradually develop your business plan, consider how you can incorporate third-party tools in your strategy to stay afloat in the now AI-driven world.
- Algorithms will Now Contain Ethics
Algorithms are beginning to drive more and more business decisions by the day. By now, we’ve already seen how a few flaws in assumptions built by data scientists have backfired for businesses relying on algorithms – largely due to the hard, messy task associated with building ethics into the algo. The ethics main role is to treat customers legally and fairly, which could see the term algorithmic redlining become more common in corporate law defense.
Not only will ethical algos lead to happier customers, but less risky practices overall as well. These two forces have already started taking effect this year and are expected to grow even stronger in 2020.
B: Sales and Customer Service
- Businesses Will Have to Further Adapt to Today’s Informed Customer
Thanks to the internet and social media, the modern customer is as informed as they come. Not only does today’s breed of consumers have more choices than ever, they also expect a great experience every time they buy from you. By 2019, it’s clear that customers tend to gravitate towards brands that prioritize on delivery of fast and personalized service over low prices or discounts.
In one of our previous blog posts, we already established that customers are willing to pay more for faster, customized service. A large percentage actually admit that it was the experience they received while shopping that made them fall in love with a brand – not the products or low prices. Looking at the current statistics, it’s clear that even large companies start to fall behind those SME’s that focus on offering a better customer experience.
- Genuine Human Relationships Trump Technology Anytime
Technology never stops improving; every organization is always tempted to get the latest and greatest. However, the reality is that no predictive analytics or AI will ever replace the human touch – especially not when it comes to sales and customer service.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely great things ahead for AI, but it won’t be the ultimate game changer, at least not by 2020. It’s relationships that drive business and commerce in the end. As such, businesses will need to find more ways to connect with their customers in person and foster a sense of trust and loyalty. The takeaway here is that while it may be advisable to use automation where possible, never ignore the power of the human touch.
C: Marketing and Advertising
- More Personalized Marketing
Marketing is becoming increasingly personal by the day. And as we move nearer to 2020, this trend does not look like it’ll end anytime soon. Just as customers expect unique and customized service, they also respond to ads that speak to them on a more personal level.
No longer will generic nurturing campaigns, stock images and other impersonal calls to action be enough to convince consumers to buy anything. To remain successful and competitive, you’ll have to provide high value, personalized content every step of the way.
- User Reviews Will be King
Research shows that today’s customer reviews actually influence well over 90% of online shoppers before they make up their mind about a purchase. What’s more interesting is that almost all of them will refrain from buying products with no reviews, bad or good.
From next year moving forward, these buyer reviews will be the biggest influencers for any business. Plenty of brands have already began opening their review forums for customers to voice their opinions. The great news is that businesses can also use these review forums to influence their target audience and return buyers.
As we draw nearer to yet another new year, one universal trend remains undisputed; the customer is getting more empowered by the minute. With the ability to reach millions of other potential customers, entire businesses could literally fall to one angry customer. Companies that want to remain even slightly competitive will have to prioritize great customer service and creating memorable experiences above all else.
SME’s and startups in particular could benefit a lot from combining the right technology with the right strategy when it comes to dealing with customers. This is where Veloxy Mobile and Veloxy Engage stand tall, poised to work right into all the above trends and predictions. With Veloxy, companies can keep track of their customers’ needs, expectations and behavior patterns and use this data to generate forecasts and predictions that will help improve the overall experience of multiple services and business operations.