Businesses are constantly evolving in how they operate, the ways in which they reach target audiences and how they compete in their industries. While this is an ongoing process that is reshaped by changes in technology and the industry landscape, the start of a new year is an appropriate time to predict and take action on the trends and changes that are likely to come over the course of the next 12 months.

The following trends in digital business operations are likely to influence a multitude of industries and their businesses to varying degrees. And while these changes may require restructuring in both short- and long-term business plans, it is important to be aware and plan accordingly so that a company is not caught off guard by shifts in both modern business operations and customer expectations.

1. Contextual Targeting Strategies

The protections created by General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mean that businesses will need to leverage customer data carefully and in compliance with these rules regarding how companies utilize customer data in marketing. In the place of audience targeting that can be hampered by GDPR, Forbes shows that contextual targeting strategies can help businesses market to potential customers based on highly detailed contextual information, which conforms to data use standards while still creating effective personalized marketing.

2. Enhancing Security in Payments

In 2017, major data breaches and identity theft highlighted the vulnerability of many organizations and the effects of having sensitive customer information compromised. The Star highlights that businesses will be working to counteract such threats with many different modern digital solutions. Everything from the use of blockchain to biometrics will be leveraged to an even greater degree in an effort to enhance security measures as digital payments increase and customers use an even greater variety of payment methods.

3. A Surge in Wide Area Networks

Recently released software-defined wide area network (WAN) technology will likely see a major increase in adoption by businesses during 2018, as discussed by Dimension Data. By establishing a communications network that can span a large geographic area but is still tightly controlled by its creators, a WAN can help businesses connect offices and better handle data, system architecture, traffic flow and more. This WAN adoption reflects how modern businesses are attempting to create large networks that balance both widespread data accessibility and needed security.

4. The Increasing Importance of Transparency

Marketing Dive points out that consumers are calling for transparency from businesses regarding their practices, partnerships and policies more than ever. This increasing awareness from audiences means that companies will need to not only be able to show audiences how they operate, but also still market effectively and protect sensitive company information. Companies who are looking to appease the demands of customers must create a strategy for effective transparency that does not compromise business processes.

5. Widespread Use of Robotic Assistants

The rise of robotic software such as chatbots and automation tools has been well publicized and heavily touted by businesses for several years now. But expect 2018 to be the year when these robotic assistants feel like a commonly expected aspect of doing business for most major companies. This acceptance from both employees and customers will cause audiences to expect more personalized experiences across industries. As discussed by CMS Wire, these expectations will create a gap between businesses already providing such experiences and those who do not.

6. The Idea of “Millisecond Marketing”

Reaching customers and responding to their interests is becoming a continually faster process. Thanks to the use of A.I. and various modern technologies, businesses are able to compare customer history with numerous potential advertisements in mere seconds to make the most of marketing opportunities. Expect 2018 to see companies work to achieve “millisecond marketing,” according to AdWeek. This uses complex algorithms to market on an individual basis faster than what is possible in the hands of humans. While this may not truly be achievable by most companies, it is an idea that many will aspire to achieve.

7. Measuring by Cost Per Experiment

Understanding the successes and failures of various business ventures requires companies to find the true return on investment (ROI) of their efforts. With so many different channels and metrics being used by companies at the same time, Forbes predicts that businesses may begin to roll cost per impression (CPM), per click (CPC), per lead (CPL), per pixel (CPP) and more together into a cost per experiment (CPE) metric. This can create a more detailed and measurable view of the wide variety of efforts made by a business in 2018.

Prepare Your Business for Digital Transformation

As digital business continues to evolve, companies across all industries must equip themselves with the technology needed to enhance their operations. Learn how this is possible through the use of digital experience platforms.

Read “Digital Experience Platforms: Designed for Digital Transformation.”  
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