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New Digital Trends – Digital Business Part Two

Digital Business Series – Part two
Written by Alex Hoffman

It’s fair to say that business in 2021 looks pretty different from business ten – or even five -years ago. With the latest technological developments taking off at break-neck speed, it can be hard to keep your finger on the pulse. But to survive – and thrive – in today’s digital climate, you need to be abreast of the latest trends in the digital world. Digital business offers an array of new opportunities in terms of the ways in which business is conducted.

It’s worth considering some of the latest trends implemented by digital businesses today and the ways in which they are shaping digital business moving forward. Some of these include artificial intelligence and machine learning, voice-enabled technology, digital money, cloud-first strategies, “buy” buttons, Digital Operations Platforms, and virtual events. Read on for more detail on each of these trends.

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI)  and machine learning allow businesses to optimize their operations quickly and effectively with the click of a button. A good example of this is the chatbot. Chatbots, or “conversational agents“, are software designed to mimic human conversations. They can respond to queries, provide information, or pre-empt requests, saving employees a great deal of time and labor and providing customers with the support they need in real time. Some chatbots have become so sophisticated that it’s difficult to differentiate their conversation from regular human conversation. Juniper Research predicts that chatbots will facilitate $142 billion in consumer retail spend by 2024, up more than 400% from $2.8 billion in 2019.

AI also means that a lot of businesses are starting to use a more hybrid approach to work where some jobs are now given to robots – or chat bots – to do to free up the time of regular, human employees. In this way, digital businesses are making the most of both human and technological resources to save time and money, while ensuring that customers continue to be paid the necessary attention.

  • Voice-enabled technology

The first voice-enabled system was the Audrey system, developed in the 1950s by Bell Labs. Audrey could recognize numbers said aloud. Nowadays, the likes of Siri and Alexa can do much more than this. Wharton Magazine reports that today there are hundreds of millions of Alexa-enabled devices around the world prompted by the rapid adoption of the internet of Things (IoT) and advances in psycholinguistic data analytics and affective computing.

Alongside the ubiquity of smart devices, there are an increasing number of AI tools and data-modelling techniques for inferring emotion and intent from human speech. Moving forward, AI is likely to shift more in the direction of AEI – Artificial Emotional Intelligence – learning to detect nuance in human emotions. The affective (emotional) computing market is expected to grow to $41 billion by 2022, highlighting a transition towards a more personal approach to technological interactions with consumers.

  • Digital money

Cash has been on the way out for a while and I don’t know when I last saw someone write a cheque. There are now increasing options for consumers to make digital payments from EFTs to scanning QR codes, from bank transfers and cell phones to online credit or debit card payments. Mordor Intelligence predicts that the global market value of mobile payments will rise from $1.1 billion in 2019 to $4.7 billion in 2025. However, while digital money offers a world of convenience, it also poses a threat when it comes to cybersecurity. It is more important now than ever before for businesses to ensure that they are as secure as they can possibly be online.

  • Cloud-first strategies

Businesses are increasingly migrating their data to the cloud. Following a cloud-first strategy means evaluating the stability of cloud computing to address emerging business requirements before considering other alternatives. Dell has found that companies that invest in big data, cloud, mobility, and security have a revenue growth up to 53% faster than their competitors. Moving to the cloud entails less hardware, less in-house maintenance, increased mobility, and better overall data security.

  • “Buy” buttons

With the advent of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, one of the most frequently used phrases of 2020 was “add to cart”. Online stores have always tried their best to emulate real-life stores, from having shopping carts to asking if you’re ready to “checkout”. However, the latest thing on these stores today is a button which enables you to bypass this traditional route and go straight to paying without you having to enter your address and other payment information.

Buy buttons, or “Buy Now” buttons (as you see on Amazon), enable you to live out your most spontaneous shopping dreams and order something instantly. Sites that use buy buttons save all your important payment and shipping information and help you bypass any promotions that might lead you to impulsively buy the pair of socks that are “frequently bought with” the pyjamas you are after. However, on the flip side, they also remove the opportunity for you to rethink your pending purchase.

  • DOP replacing ERP

Digital Operations Platforms (DOP), which mesh back-office tools into a single product, are predicted to replace Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software in the near future. DOPs combine automation and workflows to provide teams with a collaborative workspace in which all processes are centralized and unified, which can also provide great customer experiences. As businesses and customers’ expectations grow, many businesses will try to integrate the various software solutions they use.

According to a recent article by Marello, a DOP designed specifically for commerce, ERP systems are a crucial part of commerce operations, but they are often too slow, lacking in intelligence, and too complicated for the realities of customers’ expectations in the digital world. DOPs offer more flexibility than ERPs, which is essential in times of rapid change. DOPs combine all types of data streams, from sales channels, Customer Relation Management Management (CRM), Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), to Product Information Management (PIM), offering agile implementations and greater automation.

  • Virtual events

Virtual events became a big thing during the pandemic, when many countries were under strict lockdown orders or were otherwise given a mandate to socially distance. However, just because certain countries are beginning to be vaccinated now does not mean that virtual events are at an end.

Platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams taught us that it’s possible to work with others from anywhere in the world. These online platforms provide access to events for people who ordinarily might not have been able to attend thanks to the difficulties or expenses of travel. Many virtual events also provide a large return on investment for your efforts. They’re cheap to organize but can really pay off in the end.

Moving forward

New technologies can be intimidating, especially when you’ve been doing business in a certain way for as long as you can remember. However, digitization has a great deal to offer, from freeing up employees time to do the tasks they’re really good at while automation handles more mundane tasks to connecting you to the rest of the world without the need for costly flights or hotel stays. In business, as in life, it’s good to keep an open mind. Just because something is strange and new doesn’t mean that it’s a threat. Going digital opens up many new and exciting avenues, so why not take a step in that direction?


Alex Hoffman, Engagement Manager at Syft Analytics

Alex Hoffman is the Engagement Manager at Syft Analytics. She writes the blog and works on various other aspects of content creation at Syft. Alex has a background in film and television, as well as English Literature. She enjoys writing helpful, educational, and entertaining articles for readers.

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