3 Future Technologies You Should Prepare for Yesterday

By: Craig Borowski on April 2, 2018

In today’s business technology climate, choosing software and planning for the future are one and the same. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are hard to understand. For many businesses, they seem nearly impossible to prepare for.

But there’s one simple, hard fact about these futuristic technologies that you can understand. And it’s a fact that your business can and should prepare for. Ready for it?

All of these technologies will be fueled by data. The better the data, the better you’ll be able to use these technologies to serve your company and customers down the road.

Now, here’s the catch: gathering the data to create high-quality datasets can’t be rushed, and datasets purchased from third parties will never be a perfect fit “out of the box.” High-quality datasets—those that perfectly align with your company’s use cases—need to be methodically accumulated within your organization, with the right software over time, starting … well, yesterday.

So even though these AI-based technologies have yet to officially arrive—in the sense that they’re not yet major disruptors—the window to capitalize on them is rapidly closing.

Below we look at three soon-to-be commonplace technologies and show how the IT your company uses today will determine if your company gets left in the dust.

1. User Experience Personification and Personalization

User experience (UX) personification segments customers into broad groups that share similar goals and relationships.

Full personalization takes this a step further, tailoring the experience to the individual level. Amazon and Netflix are two good examples of companies that do this, providing recommendations based on your unique buying and watching history.

If your company groups customers into different types, or buckets them by funnel stages or past purchases, then you’re already applying personification. Collecting more data and mapping it to specific individuals will let you make the leap to full-on personalization.

Where will the technology have the greatest impact?

Internally, companies will use service personalization to improve employee experience, increase employee retention and compete for new hires. Externally, they’ll use it to attract and grow audiences and conversions.

Sales, marketing, product development and support will all be impacted by service personification and personalization.

How can your business prepare for the technology?

Data will fuel the machine learning tools that drive the technologies that provide user experience personification. The question you need to ask today is: What data do we want to collect, where will it come from and how will we use it?

  • If you’re a B2C company, implement a modern customer relationship management (CRM) system so data is collected from customer interactions. If you’re still using email and/or spreadsheets, hurry up and transition to a CRM. Spreadsheets can help get work done today, but they won’t help you prepare for tomorrow.

  • If you’re a B2B company, make sure your core IT platforms [e.g., supply chain management (SCM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) or others] are collecting and organizing data from all processes and interactions. The goal is to centralize data collection and gather it from a wider variety of interactions. This recommendation applies to B2C companies, too.

  • Optimize current data collection, management and application practices now to gain experience using data to make business decisions. Does the data show, for example, a spike in calls to your service department after every new product update? Make that data the motivation to improve the communication provided with each update.

2. Chatbots and Virtual Assistants

Chatbots are one of AI’s more precocious offspring, with many examples already scampering about online. Chatbots are digital interfaces (usually found online) that use machine learning to automatically answer questions and guide interactions. They can bring huge cost-savings to companies that effectively leverage them.

Where will the technology have the greatest impact?

Chatbots will greatly affect service departments that handle a high volume of service requests; especially those that handle a high volume of relatively simple, non-technical service requests. This impact will affect customer service departments in all industries, in both B2B and B2C contexts.

How can your business prepare for the technology?

Your business should pay close attention to chatbot technology. It’s easy to leverage and can help unlock the power of machine learning without spending an arm and a leg. Chatbots can come as part of a larger software platform, purchased directly from custom chatbot developers or developed in-house over time.

Many companies are already preparing for chatbots, even if they don’t know it. As with all machine learning projects, chatbots are built upon a collection of data—something many businesses already have thanks to their use of a CRM or customer service platform.

Chatbots will disrupt customer service departments in ways similar to the disruption caused by self-service. They’ll lead to an overall reduction in service request volume.

But just like with self-service implementations, the remaining service requests will likely be harder to resolve. So, companies should plan to reevaluate their service department metrics and KPIs to account for the effects of a chatbot implementation.

3. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Platform-as-a-Service is a cloud-deployed delivery model for application infrastructure services. Unlike cloud software (aka SaaS), which delivers a fully functional application (or set of applications), PaaS delivers “middleware” services that clients can use to build their own applications.

As companies move towards more personalized products and services, they’ll need to rely more on PaaS.

Uber is a great example of a company that leveraged PaaS to get things rolling. Rather than spend resources developing the communication backend of their app (SMS, geolocation, click-to-call etc.) from the ground up, they leveraged PaaS provider Twillio’s services to cover those bases.

Where will the technology have the greatest impact?

Since PaaS is all about efficient software development, this disruption will first have the biggest impact on software developers and IT solution providers. But PaaS is also about making software development easier and more accessible to companies that don’t specialize in IT—which means its impact could become widespread.

PaaS deployments are already pretty common among enterprises. The PaaS use cases with the most traction are those that use a PaaS to create apps that speed up internal workflows, including repetitive business processes.

In fact, Gartner’s “2016 Hype Cycle for PaaS” shows that business process management is the leading use case for PaaS implementations.

How can your business prepare for the technology?

For many businesses, shopping for new software ends up being a process of elimination—there’s little time to consider PaaS solutions when there are so many SaaS solutions that will work off the shelf.

How do you know if PaaS is a better choice than SaaS for your business? Answering yes to any of the following questions means that PaaS might be your best option—or at the very least, is worth a closer look.

  • Does my business have unique application requirements?

  • Does my business have an atypical or disruptive business model, or one that requires the implementation of bleeding-edge technologies?

  • Will the best SaaS solution on the market still require extensive customization in order to be a good fit for us?

We can’t predict the future, but we can guarantee that the IT decisions your company makes today will determine your future path to growth.

Buying the wrong software might paint your company into a corner that you weren’t even aware of, but buying the right software will ensure that you always remain one step ahead of the competition—no matter what the future brings.

At Software Advice, we recognize that choosing software and planning for the future are one and the same. Give us a call at (844) 687-6771 or visit us online, and we’ll help ensure you’re on the right path to picking the best solution for your business.