Most people agree that real technological progress comes when technology isn’t just about cool new gadgets. 2016 is going to be the year of technology optimization. As more businesses leverage mobile, analytics, social, and cloud technologies to transform their operations, those that optimize will rise above those that don’t. Businesses that figure this out will find new ways to connect with customers, increase margins, and secure competitive advantages.
The 2016 Business Technology Forecast
As more businesses move some part of their operations to the cloud, data security is going to the focal point of the 2016 business conversation. Earlier this year, a RightScale study found that 93% of US organizations are using some form of cloud computing, whether public or private.
Prediction #1 – Collaboration Tools Will Support A Truly Globalized Workforce
New collaboration software helps businesses share information in real time, from any location. These tools range from intranets to project management, private cloud storage, document sharing, and internal messaging. Leading vendors include SharePoint, Slack, Dropbox, Basecamp, and others.
In 2016, leading companies will use these tools to support continuous, agile processes between dispersed teams and anytime/anywhere workers. In many cases, team collaboration tools will replace older, siloed approaches to information sharing, such as email attachments.
The seamless flow of data and ubiquitous access to back-end systems will help companies expand productivity beyond historic geographical constraints. A recent forecast by the International Data Corporation (IDC) suggests that the U.S. mobile worker population will reach 105 million, or nearly three-quarters of the total workforce, by 2020.
Prediction #2 – Analytics Will Drive Marketing and Sales
In 2016, B2B organizations will do what B2C organizations are already doing – fully embrace customer analytics to drive marketing and sales. For marketers, analytics will provide more options for mass customization, the ability to trace campaign initiatives to closed deals, and a deeper understanding of each stage of the marketing to sales funnel. For salespeople, analytics will provide visibility into each lead’s unique journey (sales intelligence), which helps the sales development stage run smoothly.
Prediction #3 – Customer Experience Clouds Will Become Core Business Engines
A customer experience (CX) cloud is a suite of applications that helps businesses manage the customer journey from start to finish. Most customer experience clouds provide integrated functionality for marketing, sales, service, and in some cases, e-commerce.
As businesses continue to align their marketing, sales, delivery, and support departments, more will adopt integrated technology suites as their core business engine. Some vendors, such as Oracle, have literally attached the “CX” moniker to their products, while others provide end-to-end functionally without the label (e.g., Salesforce offers CRM, service desk, marketing automation, social, and analytics).
If you want your business to stay ahead of competitors and on the cutting edge of progress, you need to stay proactive. That doesn’t mean go out and buy every new piece of software on the market, but it does mean you need to assess your needs, pain points, and objectives, then procure the necessary technology to move forward.