Believe it or not, 2019 will soon be behind us. With that in mind, it’s time to look forward to 2020 and what it will bring. The last decade has seen some dramatic changes in the way we live our lives. As an example, consider your relationship with your phone now compared to 2009. 2020 looks like it will continue down that path.
Trying to predict the future is a fool’s game at the best of times. The speed that new technologies are evolving makes any predictions that much more difficult. Still, there are patterns that indicate where we’re headed. The past few years have built off the developments of those previous years, pointing out future directions.
But prognostication isn’t just about what’s new. It’s also about recognizing what stays the same. Certain practices are timeless, becoming even more significant as the world around them changes.
From this, we’ve drawn the following list of the five biggest tech trends for 2020 that will impact you and your business.
#1. The Increasing Importance of User Reviews
Before getting to the new, let’s focus on something proven. Something that is growing in importance as more of our lives moves to the digital world. Something that will underpin all our digital efforts.
What we’re referring to here is legitimacy.
From fake news to deep fakes, much has been made about the spread of misinformation online. This has led people to be more media literate and more conscious of the need to be aware of their sources of information.
With that comes an increased reliance on user reviews.
Getting positive reviews for your business builds your reputation, reinforced by customer testimonials. In fact, reviews are so powerful that 78% of consumers treat reviews the same as they would a personal recommendation1. And with 86% of people reading reviews when researching local businesses1, that’s an incredible opportunity.
Why is this? Acting as third-party validation, reviews are free from bias and marketing spin. They reflect the opinions of real people and are valued as such. Also, as more purchases take place online, customers will rely solely on each other’s experiences to inform their decisions.
#2. Chatbots & Personalized Interactions
Artificial intelligence is here, though it’s not quite how the movies pictured it. Instead of the enslavement of mankind, our AIs are more concerned with providing great customer service.
Chatbots have become a growing presence on websites and in apps over the last few years. In that time they’ve grown – or perhaps – evolved. Gone are the stiff interactions relaying basic information. Now we’re getting sophisticated “personalities” that are constantly learning.
You can see this evolution in voice assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s voice assistant.
What this coming year offers is the opportunity for businesses of all sizes to adopt this technology. Why does your company need a chatbot? Consider this: Chatbots can handle up to 80% of questions and concerns, saving businesses up to 30% in service costs2. That’s because they free you and your employees from handling the majority of your customer interactions.
Now, that may sound like it creates distance between you and your customers. That’s not the case at all. What it means is that the interactions you do have with your customers are ones that require your knowledge and experience. In the meantime, shoppers can get immediate responses to most of their questions 24/7, leaving you free to focus on more important work.
It’s the smaller businesses that are capitalizing on this. Currently, 40% of companies using chatbots have between 1-10 employees3.
#3. The Growing Importance of E-Commerce
As people spend more and more time online, businesses have rushed to meet them there. 96% of people in the U.S. already shop online4, and worldwide retail e-commerce sales have already hit $3.53 trillion USD5 . These numbers will continue to grow.
Being able to sell your products online will go from a should have to a must have in 2020. To survive, you simply have to offer customers a way to shop online. Whether this is a simple catalog or sophisticated webstore, it doesn’t matter as much as simply having an easy-to-navigate online store.
Having an online store means that your customers are able to shop 24/7 and even research your products before purchasing in-store.
#4. Video Content Continues to be King
People love videos. They love large budget spectacles and low-cost productions. As long as they’re informative, entertaining – or both – audiences can’t get enough of them.
Leveraging video for marketing purposes is a great way to increase sales while building your brand. 80% of people switch between online searches and videos when learning about a product6. When making a purchase, 50% of people say online videos helped them make their choice6.
Don’t let the idea of creating videos intimidate you. There’s been a push toward more personal, less polished content as a response to the clean professionalism of recent years. A quick, two-minute video explaining products or services can get a great response on your social media profiles. Being natural and providing information is key, not production values.
#5. The Rollout of 5G
Underlying many technological predictions is the continued rollout of 5G networks. An upgrade over the current 4G/LTE broadband, it promises to transfer data up to 100 times faster than current networks7. It will also be able to provide service to areas that have previously been limited due to the need for network infrastructure.
What’s interesting is how the focus of 5G is different than 4G. 4G focuses on user experiences such as high-definition video streaming, location-based apps, and smart appliances.
The goal of 5G is to build a large network of connected devices, beyond the smart devices we currently have. While we can now buy smart appliances (known as the Internet of Things, or IoT), 5G will expand things considerably. It won’t just be lights and speakers, but also sensors built into our buildings, roads and more.
This infrastructure will underpin many of the concepts that 4G has introduced, but hasn’t been able to deliver on. Take autonomous driving, for example. It seems that we’re constantly just a few years away from a traffic network that will feature self-driving cars providing fast, safe transportation for people and goods.
5G should actually make this possible. Vehicles, traffic lights, and even sensors in the roads themselves will be in constant communication. This may be what actually allows for autonomous driving to deliver on its promise.
Smart cities, too, will be possible. Smart cities are a new approach to urban development, one that looks to accommodate the needs of the people who live there. This includes traffic lights that dynamically respond to real-time use to reduce congestion and optimize traffic flow, city equipment remotely reporting breakdowns, better allocation of city resources and services due to in-depth statistics being available.
But 5G’s not just about connecting devices. Existing user-focused services will also improve. Data-heavy applications like virtual and augmented reality will become possible. Where this can lead is anyone’s guess.
What effect this will have is pretty much impossible to predict. To put this in perspective, consider for a moment the developments that 4G has allowed in just the last ten years. Streaming services have replaced physical media. Ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry. And cell phones are used more as mobile computers and entertainment devices than they are as phones.
From this new technology has sprung massive cultural shifts, forever altering the way we live our lives. What impact 5G will have won’t be known for years.
That is, of course, if the full rollout of 5G takes place. The technology depends on installing short-range bases throughout population-dense areas. These areas are then blanketed with high levels of electromagnetic fields (EMF), which some people are concerned may have an effect on our health. While evidence isn’t conclusive, it’s understandable that concerns do exist8.
Final Thoughts on the Tech Trends You Need to Know for 2020
It’ll be interesting to look back at this list in a year’s time and see how close to the mark it is. These predictions are based more on behaviours than technology. The means may change, but people’s motivations often don’t.
Chatbots, user reviews, videos, and e-commerce all seek to provide customers with the same things they’ve always wanted. Reassurance, information, entertainment and convenience. The delivery method might be different, but the goal will stay the same.
1 – https://www.brightlocal.com/research/local-consumer-review-survey/
2 – https://www.ibm.com/blogs/watson/2017/10/how-chatbots-reduce-customer-service-costs-by-30-percent/
3 – https://www.goboomtown.com/blog/chatbot-statistics-study
4 – https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/omni-channel-retail/?_ga=2.193791594.63090214.1574105280-753979607.1574105280
5 – https://www.statista.com/statistics/379046/worldwide-retail-e-commerce-sales/
6 – https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/youtube-strategy-to-drive-action/
7 – https://www.cnet.com/news/the-5g-wireless-revolution-explained/
8 – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326141.php