From the continued growth in smart home technology to virtual stylists, 2016 saw major advances when it comes to consumer focused technologies. 2017, in turn, promises to offer even more opportunities to integrate technology into every consumer driven experience.
Of all the trends that promise to reshape the way shoppers interact with businesses and companies, artificial intelligence (AI) is the most exciting and offers the most room for disruption. The favourable outlook comes on the heels of a lucrative holiday season that saw this year’s hottest gifts, Google Home and Amazon’s Alexia, surge in popularity.
According to the latest 3-year outlook report from Accenture, the IT consulting firm, the technology of the future will be designed to make lives easier and shopping experiences seamless.
“The pace of technology change is breathtaking, bringing about the biggest advancements since the dawn of the Information Age,” said Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer at Accenture. “As technology transforms the way we work and live, it raises important societal challenges and creates new opportunities. Ultimately, people are in control of creating the changes that will affect our lives, and we’re optimistic that responsive and responsible leaders will ensure the positive impact of new technologies.”
Artificial Intelligence is already helping to revolutionize the customer service sector. For example, in 2016, media tech giant Facebook introduced chatbots for businesses. These AI-driven technologies act as the middleman between the consumer and the business they are accessing. With a few simple clicks, shoppers are able to forgo human-to-human interaction and order whatever their heart desires. As of late September 2016, there were more than 30,000 chatbots working across the digital landscape.
“We’re poised for the biggest change in the way we live and work since the start of the information age,” notes Daugherty of the potential that AI offers to businesses and consumers.
For technology venture capitalist, G Scott Paterson, the widespread proliferation of AI technologies is a natural progression of our tech-driven society. However, for Scott Paterson, the novelty of interacting with AI is outweighed by the data that can be generated through AI interactions and analytics.
Like the Facebook chatbots, Scott Paterson sees real value in the merger of AI and social media.
“What’s happening is that brands all over the world, from the big brands, the McDonalds’, the Nikes, to the smaller brands that are in your neighbourhood, are increasingly understanding that they’ve got to communicate with their current customers and potential customers through social media channels,” said Paterson.
In addition to enhanced AI interaction and social media growth, Accenture expects to see more cross sector collaboration. The report offers the example of using your Amazon Echo to check your Capital One account balance or pay bills.
This synergy is designed to funnel customers between a number of businesses, while also attracting a new demographic of consumer. A great example of some of the collaborating that is happening between tech companies and large corporations is the partnership between General Motors and Lyft to provide Lyft drivers with discounted car rentals for 8 week periods. The popular partnership, which was established in March 2016, evidences the need for tech and corporate unity.