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9 digital trends that mean big business in 2017

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 17/12/2016 By Lucy Roue

It's been a big year for.

With companies launchingmore apps than ever, interactive advertising and theemergence of the internet of thingsyou sometimes wonder what's next?

We get insight from digital agencyCode Computerlove, which was recently acquired by Mediacom, on what they expect to see.

Managing director Louis Georgiou said: "Predicting and responding to trends undoubtedly gives brands a competitive edge.

"Knowing what’s on the horizon – and using this insight to help shape business strategy – can help organisations exceed consumer expectations, deliver an experience that drives positive reviews and recommendation, and it future proof entire business operations.

MediaCom buys Code Computerlove

"Brands that fail to incorporate change, or don’t adopt new practices such as a ‘test and learn’ mentality, may even fall by the wayside.

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"Whereas in previous years, our predictions have been around digital trends, we can no longer categorize them as such; more and more ‘digital’ trends are actually impacting how companies operate and structure their business.

"Therefore, this year we are looking at business trends in a digital world."

The first of the technology trends we will see come into the mainstream are voice assistants.

In the home, the use of digital assistants such asAmazon Echo(and the Alexa voice system), Google Home and Apple’s Siri – which make our interaction with the digital world and online services easier – is predicted to grow exponentially.

The reason for this? The technology has been around for a while, but it works now, and it’s affordable. People will also expect brands to have a stronger audio presence in 2017 – and it’s an exciting space for businesses.

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Chatbots have been a hot topic for some time now; they were one of our trends to watch in 2016, and many trend pundits echo thatChatbots are now definitely here to stay.

With Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Google all introducing bots to help with bookings and customer service, the Telegraph even says that bots have overtaken apps as the primary way we will communicate with our phones.

For businesses, Chatbots lend themselves well to supporting customer service – increasing assistance and digital chat around the clock, speeding up response times, meeting consumer expectations and freeing up staff for more complex enquiries.

This can range from predictive analytics and website design to product pricing and predictive customer service.

At a recent web summit, Affectiva’s Rana Kilouby talked abouthow AI is understanding emotion, while demonstrating technology that recognises changing facial expressions and reflects them as emojis.

The technology has been used to test emotional reactions to adverts and games before they go live.

The IoT and wearables isn’t a new trend – but expect businesses to leverage thepower of the billions of sensors and connected devicesto new levels in 2017.

The opportunity for brands is to enhance product experience in this space, rather than just marketing capabilities. There are products that lend themselves to the IoT, which is where we predict we will see most success.

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Pokémon Goshowed us consumers are ready for more immersive experiences and themajor VR headsetsuppliers as well as Google Spotlight stories are also driving this technology into the mainstream.

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Within the business world,beyond games, we can expect to see storytelling and experiences take off.

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We’re already seeing motor manufacturers offering test drives and hotels creating a360-degree immersive experience, as two great examples.

But while consumer awareness of VR and AR is relatively high, and there will be experimentation, consumer polls are showing that we’re not ready for it to be completely mainstream yet and prices still need to come down.

Take virtual reality tour of property developer Bruntwood's flagship building

Businesses can no longer waste time and resources implementing new tools and features that offer no value.

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As brandsevolve their digital capabilitiesand ways of interacting online with consumers, the ones that succeed will be those that don’t go to market with a fully developed solution or a ‘big bang’ launch in the hope that this is what customers want.

Working iteratively, not simply thinking about what features to introduce, is an approach that most of the major dot coms with large in-house teams, currently take – but 2017 will see more agencies evolving the way they work with clients in this direction too.

We’ve heard aboutbig datafor a while now, but 2017 will be the year of richer measurement and data becoming a greater driving force behind a business.

Expect to see the rise of the data scientist and an increased use of data visualisation tools to interpret findings, resulting in an opportunity to get closer to the customer.

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The use of this greater insight will go beyond simply serving more marketing material, personalisation and automation; it will be used for machine learning and AI, catered responses and creating touch points that are specific and individual.

2017 will see a number of brands addressing the challenges brought on byfragmented channels. Some trend pundits are calling it a Content Crunch.

We will see brands re-addressing which channels are being the most effective and increasing focus on customer experience over broadcasting, streamlining content and increase niche targeting.

Similarly, expect to see consumers also ‘turning brand noise down’ or even muting brands as they become tired of being shouted at and sold to within ‘their spaces’.

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There will be greater investment in technology that increases connectivity across channels.

While new channels have opened upexciting fresh ways to reach consumers, the need for greater connectivity and a brand’s message to be consistently portrayed has never been greater.

Focus will be on complete, connected customer journeys like never before.

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