New tech trends are released every year, and pundits do their best to convince businesses to take immediate action and jump on the new trend!  The next year, new trends replace old trends, and business again are expected to invest more time and money. It’s lunacy!  Especially considering most tech “trends” never amount to more than a new short-live buzzword.  Let us save you some time and energy by cutting through the fluff and getting real about new tech.

      1. Multi-point Customer Experiences

        If you are a B2C company, you are most likely already doing this. Customers expect you to offer multiple ways to interact with them, and they already expect that you know who they are regardless of what channel they communicate to you from. The B2B world is a little behind, but only because traditional B2B customers don’t interact as often via different channels. That will slowly start to change and all companies will be faced with the challenge of evolving their customer engagement processes to keep up with new expectations.

        What to do now: Take a look at your typical customer journey, from the first time they interact with you, all they way to the end of the relationship. Are there any areas that would benefit from better customer engagement, or a different way of communicating (sms messaging, online chat, social engagement, etc.)? Next, reach out to your customers and ask them to identify problematic experiences that could be solved with different methods of communication. Finally, create the processes and procedures your team will use to communicate in new ways. You’ll need to retrain your employees and potentially even invest in new software tools, but it’ll be well worth it to create better customer experiences.

      2. Expanding Tech Capabilities

        As online software tools continue to advance, they become more approachable for businesses.  This is currently happening in software development tools and business analytic tools.  What used to be reserved for experienced developers and data scientists is now available to the masses.  This offers a ton of opportunity for businesses that can take advantage of the tools to solve business challenges.

        What to do now: Identify a few of your more savvy technology users and give them some freedom to learn about the new tools. A good way to start is to identify a unique business challenge or bulky internal process and let them try and solve it in new ways.  Give them some budget and time, and unleash them. The more they play around with new tools and software, the more they’ll build intelligence in this arena. The goal is not necessarily to solve the issue you gave them, it is to give them room to build a new skill set, and better understand the capabilities of the new tools.  Trust me, once they know what is available, they will have plenty of ideas for challenges they can solve.

        Using Technology To Grow Your Business
      3. Companies With Conscience

        Unfortunately you hear stories almost everyday about a company that violated the trust of their customers. This can be through poor business practices, questionable sourcing methods, mishandling or selling of consumer data, or any number of things that serve to alienate themselves from their target market. Consumers expect businesses to uphold the highest level of integrity and transparency. Anything less will eventually cost you business and customers.

        What to do now: Take the six elements of trust to heart. Build a culture that promotes and rewards ethics, integrity, openness, accountability, competence, and consistency.  If you don’t know how your team members view your culture currently, consider doing an employee engagement survey.  Make sure it is anonymous to get better results (and don’t try and identify bad remarks just to punish people.  You’ll never get a good survey again if you go down that path). You’ll most likely be surprised to hear how people actually feel about the company. If your culture is strong, you’ll see it. If it needs some work, you’ll see that too. Your customers relationship with your company will mimic how your current team members feel about your company. Once the culture is strong, your customer experiences will follow.

      4. Upgrade Your BYOD Approach

        There is no doubt that IoT devices like smart phones, smart watches and smart devices are here to stay. Which also means they will continue to be brought into the office. Blanket policies that prevent their use are not realistic, and can affect employee attraction and retention. Ignoring the issue presents a security risk. It’s time to evaluate a new approach, one that protects your business and your customers data, but also helps to create a modern workplace that employees are excited to be a part of.

        What to do now: First, assume your employees will bring in IoT devices that are not secure and most likely present a security risk to the business. Your technology solutions and business policies need to address this risk. Have your tech team create WiFi networks that are isolated from your internal and customer networks. Then create policies that enforce the use of these networks for IoT devices, and the necessary controls to ensure it is happening as expected. It’ll also help to have policies for what types of devices are acceptable, and how often your team members can interact with them. Taking a break every 90 minutes is good for productivity, playing with your new smart watch for 3 hours in the middle of the day is not.

      5. Advanced Threats Need Advanced Security

        Unfortunately, as technology advances, so do the opportunities for hackers, scammers, viruses, and other unscrupulous dark web activities. Companies can no longer rely on the bare minimum to protect themselves and their customers. Fortunately, new technology can help, as well as better and more consistent training.

        What to do now: It’s probably time to get current on your core infrastructure. Many of the devices out today are much more advanced and offer much better protection and monitoring. Replacing your internal firewalls, routers, and switches are a good start.  Also, look at bringing your core applications up to the latest versions. Every new release contains many new security features and updates that offer additional protection. The further behind your software and hardware are, the more at risk you are. Also, invest in security training for the entire company. And not just once, but often. A ridiculous amount of data breaches are caused by lack of employee training. It is much easier to trick someone into doing something that exposes data than it is to hack into a system.  Keep that in mind and make data security a part of your culture.