Now is the time to reflect of the past year and plan for the current year, keeping in mind all you’ve learned. Because 2019 business trends are shifting, entrepreneurs need to be aware of changes in technology, finance, and public policy. These business trends and predictions will help you navigate 2019 successfully.

Technology and IoT

When it comes to commercial applications, IoT (Internet of Things) is already delivering radical and sometimes disruptive transformation in business transactions and customer acquisition. Most organizations are seriously exploring how IoT can give them their next competitive advantage.

The range of IoT applications is vast. IoT sensors are increasingly used by businesses of all sizes across numerous industries, especially in retail and manufacturing. IoT technology is used in smart meters, security monitors, product control, supply chain management, NFC payments, and intelligent shopping; to name a few applications.

IoT provides businesses with a powerful data resource gathered from devices traditionally difficult to collect data from. For instance, data on where delivery vehicles are and their ETA at any given moment can be combined with other contextual data, like traffic and weather, to show when a given component will be available to a consumer and thus improve customer service, trust, and loyalty.

Data from IoT sensors is also often used to track performance, allowing manufacturers to understand what is normal for a piece of machinery and create an automated system that will halt production if an abnormal circumstance arises, preventing mistakes and the waste of valuable raw materials.

Whatever your business does, there’s most likely an opportunity for IoT to transform it for the better.

Mobile banking means more mobile cyberattacks

The banking industry is already undergoing significant changes, we should see this continue to play out this year with massive disruptions in how you can make payments, transfer funds, and purchase goods. Today, people want to bank wherever they are and whenever they want, which does not align with the traditional banking model. It’s predicted that digital banking will grow by more than 2 billion users by 2020.

The shift to mobile banking will bring greater data breaches and cyber-attacks. All banks are experiencing sharp increases in attacks on their mobile platforms. With approximately 80 percent of financial institutions’ customers doing online banking; 50 percent on mobile devices, we should expect to see attacks intensify throughout 2019.

As banks implement tighter security, individuals and businesses must also be vigilant to self-protect their sensitive information and their finances. To help protect your business from financial fraud, be familiar with scams that target businesses and train your employees to spot them and avoid them. Business fraud scams include fake invoices, hacked emails, ransomware, and CEO-impersonated fraud.

For more information on ways to protect your finances and personal information, check out Why You Should Invest In Cybersecurity.

The modern workplace

Prioritize employee happiness

Expect businesses to focus more on employee engagement and happiness this year. Because unemployment is at historic lows, keeping employees engaged and happy is critical to retaining good people. Research shows that keeping employees happier at work boosts productivity 10 to 25 percent. As a Harvard psychology researcher explains, success doesn’t make employees happy as much as happiness makes employees more successful.

Increased shift toward remote work

Employees will spend less time commuting and traveling but more time working remotely, causing business leaders to find other ways to share corporate info and increase workplace collaboration. With the rise of telecommunications (video, chats, etc.), the need for employees to hit the road has subsided, meaning that business leaders will need to rethink their communications strategies. They’ll also need to consider how to encourage workplace collaboration when everyone is in a different place.

An increase in remote access to data, files, and tools via VPN, cloud sharing, and edge computing will increase the need for tighter cybersecurity. Every business, small-to-large, must make cybersecurity a 2019 focus.

Sales and customer service

Businesses must adapt to modern customers

One of the 2019 business trends that we’ll see across all industries is the adaptation to modern customers’ exceptions. Customers not only have more choices than ever, they are more technically savvy and are becoming accustomed to fast delivery and personalized service. In every industry, we are seeing large legacy companies starting to fall behind smaller startup companies who offer a better user experience. Consumer expectations for service have never been higher, and companies of all sizes must look for better ways of meeting those expectations.

Technology will not replace the human experience

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (predictive analytics) can spot trends that the average human cannot. With the right application of machine learning a business can start to understand underlying patterns in a customer’s journey and use that to optimize the experience and drive customer acquisition and retention.

While the latest technology comes with the expectation of increased revenue and improved customer satisfaction, you need to keep in mind that AI and predictive analytics will never replace the human when it comes to delivering the customer experience.

There are exciting opportunities for AI ahead. Today, think of AI as ‘augmented intelligence’ because it can augment the human experience, giving people better information and greater customer insight.

Genuine relationships over technology

Much can be said about technology in modern business, but it is relationships that drive commerce. Finding ways to connect in person to build trust and strengthen connection is vital to a successful business, especially in today’s technology-driven environment. Make sure you offer several ways to talk with your customer and to get to know them.

Allied Financial prides itself in getting to know our customers, understanding their business needs, and helping them find financial solutions that grow their business.  You can always count of us to offer a personal touch tailored to your business needs.