The business landscape is ever-changing. Blink and you miss some of the biggest developments transforming markets across the world.
For many, the largest changes to the business structure in the modern-day revolve around new technology, which will come as no surprise.
Like business, technology is always moving forward; always striving to be better than it was before.
Since most modern companies now rely on technology for everything from customer contact to product production, the constantly evolving landscape of both means you have to work hard to keep up with changes.
But what changes should you be keeping your eye out for? In 2020, there are some major trends set to transform the business world. In this article, we look at some of the most important and influential.
The Rise of Online Fax
There is a huge misconception that surrounds the world of fax; the misconception that the technology died off years ago.
In actuality, it is still commonplace. Nearly 90% of people working in IT still send a fax at least once a year.
That number falls slightly for those in other industries but still holds at around 80% or above.
Fax remains an important part of business communication around the world. However, modern businesses have started to understand fax machines aren’t suitable pieces of hardware to maintain.
Their costs and impact on productivity are prohibitive, and their risks to data security make it hard for companies to remain compliant with new laws.
In the UK, the upcoming ISDN switch off also means that fax machines will become obsolete.
To combat this, many businesses are seeking alternatives to fax machines in 2020. Since moving away from fax is likely to cause problems for communication — given how popular the platform remains — the trend is moving towards online faxing.
Online fax allows businesses to send and receive fax without the use of a fax machine, transmitting documents through smartphones and computers instead.
Chatbots are gaining in popularity, with 2020 set to be the year where this tech trend takes off.
Chatbots are auto-response systems that operate over voice and text. They are pre-programmed with information to provide to customers through prompts that include specific words and phrases.
The idea is, when a customer calls your business or sends an instant message, the chatbot offers them the details they need.
If the chatbot cannot answer the query, it forwards them to a live agent or tells them how to contact one. But in most cases, they’ll be able to support the consumer without the need for human input.
Chatbots have been around for a while, but as the AI behind them improves, they are starting to become much more effective options for customer service.
While chatbots previously had a bad reputation with customers for being unhelpful, their continued development now means a customer would rather engage with a chatbot than with a live agent if it is going to save them time — which it does.
Chatbots not only make it quicker for customers to access the information they need, but they reduce the number of inbound messages your business has to manage directly, saving on resources; and therefore, money.
The Automation Revolution
It’s an unfortunate but inescapable truth that people do not have as much disposable income as they used to.
The result is, businesses are seeing less money heading their way. Combine this with the turbulent economic times, and you’ve got the recipe for potential financial disaster.
To counteract the difficulties they face, many businesses have sought to find ways of improving productivity while reducing costs — or at the very least, improving productivity while maintaining current costs.
This has led brands to introduce service automation, which is likely to be the most popular tech trend we see in 2020.
Automation in business is a little more mundane than the self-driving cars and self-repairing nano-materials you see mentioned in the media.
Instead, business automation is all about taking basic tasks — often related to admin — and introducing software to complete them for you. Chatbots are an example of automation, but others include tools like virtual assistants and email scheduling systems.
The idea is, you replace manual worker input with automated software. This software allows your workers to invest their time more effectively, on more advanced tasks — or means you don’t need to make expensive hires in the first place.
Automation is all about maximising ROI and allowing your business to survive in uncertain times, which is why the technology is proving so appealing in 2020.
The Re-Emergence of 3D-Printing
3D-Printing is not a new technology.
When it was commercially introduced a few years ago, there was a major buzz surrounding it.
However, the costs of 3D-printing soon made it clear that this tech was more of a gimmick than an actual option for most businesses, and shortly the hype died down.
Over time though, 3D-printing hardware and supporting software have evolved and adapted to global markets — so much so that in 2020 it looks set to be a much more viable option for product production than it has been in previous years.
3D-printing is not only cheaper but also more efficient and effective too, meaning mass production using it is now a real option.
Thanks to how businesses can directly influence and adapt the design of 3D-printed products, and create their items in-house, the technology has the potential to offer versatile product development and bespoke offerings.
3D-printing also limits waste during product production, a highly-valuable commodity in the modern era of eco-friendly practices and sustainable business.