2020 has been a year of drastic change for many around the world due to the COVID-19 virus. Many of us have had our daily routines disrupted and have relied on digital solutions to get through these tumultuous times. Technology has played a significant role in how society has adjusted, and these trends will stick around after the pandemic subsides.
Today, we’ll look at some of the major tech trends of 2020 that will play a prominent role in businesses going forward.
AI and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is one of the most significant and fastest growing trends in the world. Using data and algorithms, AI machines are increasingly able to learn and act intelligently without consulting humans. AI is becoming more capable of managing more data and processes, and is appearing more often across industries and will continue to grow.
Many companies already employ AI technologies to enhance the customer experience. For example, mass personalization refers to the ability to offer highly personalized services on a mass scale. There are also “micro-moments” which means knowing and responding to a customer’s need at the perfect moment, which improves their experience of your brand. Both micro-moments and mass personalization are made possible by technologies like AI and Big Data.
Big Data refers to the exponential growth in the amount of data being created. Businesses use this information to analyze and better understand customers and to help improve their businesses. It also helps organize and manage copious amounts of information, allowing business owners to make better decisions. Many large ecommerce companies use Big Data and tools like Cloudera and OpenRefine to analyze their customer databases.
Augmented analytics are highly advanced data analytics that often use AI techniques to manipulate and make sense of large, complex data streams. Quantum computers are incredibly fast computers capable of solving seemingly unfathomable problems that puts most of our state-of-the-art technology to shame. Currently, quantum computers are mostly reserved for labs, but experts believe quantum computers could become commercially available this decade.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing has become the face of advertising during COVID-19 when all but essential services were forced to shut down. Businesses, particularly small enterprises, needed to find different ways to connect with past and potential customers. According to Statista, there were approximately 25.35 million social network users in Canada in 2019. This figure is expected to reach a staggering 32.07 million users by 2023. According to a Sprout Social study, 75 per cent of people bought a product after seeing it on social media.
A good social media marketing strategy allows your business to effectively reach its target audience, increase revenue, and keep the business competitive. Business owners looking to improve their social media marketing should familiarize themselves with social media management tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite, SproutSocial and Klout. You can also enlist the services of a digital agency or a marketing strategist.
Cloud and Edge Technology
Cloud- and edge-based software gives employers and their employees greater flexibility when it comes to working remotely. In cloud computing, data is stored on computers and accessed by other devices via the internet. With edge computing, stored data is processed by smart devices like phones. In 2020, more companies are favouring edge computing because data is stored closer to the location where it’s needed. This means faster response times and less bandwidth used.
Technologies like cloud- and edge-based software have helped many transition to online work. And for some employees and some industries, people can expect to work from home more often in the coming months. Some also argue that technologies that allow people to work remotely will increase their quality of life and improve their work-life balance.
Cybersecurity is increasingly important because cyberattacks are becoming more common and more sophisticated. Cybersecurity measures such as blockchain technology help protect the money and information that’s stored and exchanged online. Blockchain is a powerful, secure method of storing, protecting and authenticating data that’s particularly useful for facilitating transactions. You can use blockchain to improve payment systems, verify identities, distribute digital information and send transactions through various cryptocurrencies. The distributed ledger network of blockchain keeps verifiable records of each transaction made in the system.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the ever-growing number of smart devices and objects that are connected to the internet. These devices constantly gather and transmit data, further fueling the growth in Big Data and AI. There are all kinds of smart devices used for living healthier, being safer and living more efficiently.
The fifth generation of cellular network technology, 5G, will create a faster, smarter, more connected wireless network. 5G technology will allow more devices to connect to each other and create richer streams of data, pushing the limits of what is possible. Businesses can leverage 5G networks and the IoT to optimize their workflows and automate certain processes.
Voice and Facial Recognition Technology
Computer vision and facial recognition technology allows machines to “see” by visually interpreting their surroundings. Facial recognition is a prime example of this technology. Typically, this technology is used to identify and verify people’s identity. People have raised concerns about the use of facial recognition technology, and rightfully so, but this technology is here to stay.
Similarly, natural language processing (NLP) technology allows machines to understand human voices and languages. NLP has drastically changed how humans interact with machines. AI voice-commanded assistants, like Siri and Alexa, are well-known examples of this technology. These technologies will grow more prominent, accurate and effective with time.
Chatbots and Automation
Chatbots are a software or computer program incorporated on a website used to help people communicate using AI. Chatbots are popular among companies that provide service 24/7 and are an excellent tool for managing customer service. With chatbots, customers are able to immediately get an answer to their inquiry which improves the user experience.
In addition to communication, automation tools can be used to organize data, improve sales, and manage inventory and payroll for businesses, which can increase efficiency and productivity.
Marcus Medford | Contributing Writer