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Technology knows no boundaries. Its reach extends into every industry and all business operations. Accepting that fact isn’t enough, as successful businesses also find ways to use technology to resolve inefficiencies and improve business processes. As a startup, you should make a point to find opportunities to leverage technology trends when appropriate.
Below are four key technology trends that can impact your startup this year, and how to use each to your advantage.
Immediacy is one of the most popular trends in technology. Consumers want content in real time, and many digital publishers are adapting their platforms to accommodate that demand. Communication mediums like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are just a handful of platforms offering users a “live” feature.
This content is sometimes referred to as “expiring content” because of its limited availability. Consumers seem to be drawn to expiring content because it creates a sense of urgency and elicits a fear of missing something valuable.
As a startup, marketing communications is an important way to attract and retain customers. Most startups understand the importance of marketing and invest into their website, social media and email marketing. These traditional digital marketing mediums will continue to be important, but expect to see live content play a large role in marketing this year.
Startups should use live, expiring content to push products, promote events and create brand loyalty. Live content doesn’t just give you an immediate way to communicate with your consumers; it also breaks through the noise and diminishing returns of traditional digital marketing.
While live, expiring content sounds great, it’s extremely difficult to execute. Understand the risk and reward of live streaming before you begin and learn what works well for brands that are already doing live video marketing.
Related: 6 Startup Technology Trends For 2017
Consumers use, and will continue to use, mobile devices to access and interact with brands. If your startup is a mobile application, this is great. If not, then you better be prepared to go mobile. Many startups are making mobile their main domain, with the entire consumer process executed on a device.
Take ofo as an example. This bike-sharing startup uses a mobile application to handle all consumer transactions. The interface allows users to find available bikes, unlock and use the bicycles and complete the payment process all via their mobile phone. This entirely mobile experience has proved effective for other companies like Uber and Lyft, too.
Startups don’t have to transition to an entirely mobile business, but they should try and adapt to this trend as quickly as possible. The bare minimum should be a mobile-optimized website.
According to Google, 61 percent of users are unlikely to return to a website they had trouble accessing on their mobile device, with 40 percent visiting a competitor’s website instead.
Automation is critical to the success (and possible demise) of startups, and that trend will only continue. From on-demand delivery to marketing, many of the most important steps in the transaction and production process can happen automatically.
Such a process allows businesses to streamline stages that once required manual actions, saving time and money while improving both lead-time and customer satisfaction. These benefits are essential to lean startups.
Automation does have its limitations, so it’s important to be strategic with how you use it. For instance, marketing automation improves communication efficiency, but limits customization. Keep these limitations in mind when using automated processes.
Automation also presents risks for businesses and entire industries. Technology that can streamline business activities can overtake jobs and make once-lucrative businesses obsolete.
Industries that deal with data collection, presentation or interpretation could face tough times ahead, due to automation.
For example, Citigroup estimates that automated banking could replace 30 percent of bank jobs within the next decade.
As a startup, look at your business and see if there are ways to use automation to resolve inefficiencies and prepare to adjust your business model if your core competencies can be automated.
Augmented reality and virtual reality
You’re probably familiar with Pokémon Go. It was 2016’s top mobile game and arguably the biggest cultural phenomenon over the last year. Its unique gameplay featuring augmented reality was likely the main contributor to its swift rise in popularity.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are different levels on the scale of computer-generated sensory. Augmented reality adapts the real, physical world using computer generated sensory images, sounds, smells, etc. Virtual reality replaces one’s physical reality with an entirely virtual experience. Trend reports suggest that the industry of altered reality will be booming in the future.
Therefore, startups need to look at how they can use AR and VR to their advantage. Let’s say you’re a new travel booking company. Travel is already saturated and difficult to break into, but you’re confident that you can provide a better value to your clients. Maybe you can set yourself apart from other, more established companies by using VR to give a virtual tour of resorts and destinations before your customers book a vacation. This level of interactivity can help elicit action while also improving user experience with your brand.
Harvard Business Review states that AR and VR will drastically alter retail. Consumers could check inventory, try on an outfit or see new furniture in their home, all without having to physically visit the store.
The potential for AR and VR to impact business growth isn’t fully realized yet. However, it’s certainly a tech trend that will impact your startup. Successful startups will find creative ways to leverage AR and VR to market their product, improve the user experience and gain competitive advantages in their industry.
Technology trends summary
Technology is always changing. Businesses and industries must evolve if they want to survive. As a startup, it’s important to keep the above tech trends in mind as you try to grow your business.