This article contains a brief look at the current status of AI and bots, voice search and smart speakers, the continued rise of Amazon and some other trends and statistics that we think are interesting going into 2019 and beyond.
Robots, AI and bots - should we care?
With reports such as robots and AI are likely to replace 50% of all jobs in the next decade, it's easy to see the hype and therefore easy to also dismiss AI and bots as mostly talk and little action. However, there is plenty of numbers pointing to the actual implementation and adaptation of such technologies in real-world applications. Some Examples:
- Amazon now has more than 100 000 robots "employed" at its warehouses
- Waymo, Google’s driverless car company, is now running autonomous minivans around Phoenix with no human inside
- Construction Robotics has launched a bricklaying robot that lays 3x the number of bricks in a day compared to a human
- Google’s AI assistant makes a real-life phone call to a hair salon without the human realising it's a bot
- 15% of US consumers say they have used a chatbot in the past year and the number one use case is getting an instant response to a simple question
What does it mean? Start experimenting with bots in the not too distant future, and in the meantime make sure you create an inventory of frequently asked (simple) questions that a bot could answer.
Voice search and smart speakers
Since 50% of search queries are four words or longer since quite a while, and we increasingly use digital assistants like Alexa and Siri on smartphones, it's no wonder comScore predicted that 50% of all searches will be voice by 2020. Now, this could be further fueled by smart speaker adoption that has risen sharply in the past year. For example in the US, 1 in 5 adults now have access to a smart speaker.
What does it mean? SEO will continue to evolve based on voice search, digital assistants and smart speakers. You should utilise data to continually analyse, understand and adjust content creation accordingly.
The continued rise of Amazon
It's no longer news that Amazon is a giant. However, did you know that:
- According to comScore time spent with Amazon was greater than the time spent with the other top 10 retailers combined in the US
- Amazon's share of the US e-commerce market is anywhere between 28% to 49% depending on which figures you trust
- Amazon is on par with Google for product research and discovery in the US
- The market value of companies in other industries are affected by news of Amazon making an entry into their markets
What does it mean? Don’t let Amazon “just happen”. Instead, actively decide on your approach to Amazon. Consider all your different business areas from spare parts, to used, to new products. For more thoughts on this topic, consider reading Amazon - Your future partner or competitor? by my colleague Anders Björklund.
China, e-commerce and the accelerating pace of disruption
Every year analyst Mary Meeker at venture firm Kleiner Perkins presents their yearly internet trends report. It's always an interesting read and some of the highlights from the 2018 report highlight the rise of China as a leader in e-commerce and technology:
- E-commerce as % of total retail sales is now 20% in China, leading the major economies with Korea second at 18%, the UK at 16%, and the US at 13%.
- Germany, Japan and France are all still below 10%.
- China's e-commcerce market is also growing the fastest (and thus has both the highest penetration and the fastest growth) with Alibaba chasing Amazon in the quest to dominate e-commerce globally.
- Five years ago China had two tech companies in the top 20 in terms of market value, now Chinese companies occupy 9 out of 20 positions. Do you know Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, Xiaomi, Didi, JD and so on?
- Technology disruption is accelerating. Meaning that for every new dominant technology that comes along, the time for it to go mainstream (25% adoption rate) is reduced, increasing the risk (and opportunities!) for established businesses.
What does it mean? It's important to ask how we can become more agile as an organisation in a landscape that changes faster and faster. For example, electricity took nearly 50 years to reach 25% adoption rate in the US, the car some 30+ years, the refrigerator 20 years and the personal computer 15 years, whereas the internet took less than five years and social media and smartphones became a habit more or less instantly.
It's also important to make sure sales & marketing evolves with the continued rise of ecommerce. What plans do we have in place that ensures Amazon, Alibaba and others aren't eating our lunch in spare parts, used items etc.?
Digital natives are chasing the B2B purchasing landscape
It's hardly a surprise given everything mentioned earlier in this piece that behaviours in things like B2B purchasing is also evolving. In an interesting article called How Digital Natives Are Changing B2B Purchasing, Bain & Company's Eric Almqvist explains that:
- Digital natives prefer short bursts of information, often in visual formats, and they think phone calls are tedious and disruptive
- When a salesperson eventually is invited to the table, buyers will have already formed a strong opinion about many aspects of the value expected from a vendor
What does it mean? Inbound is the methodology of choice. Force yourself to only look from the outside, to put yourself in their shoes. Ask whether we are giving—not just our current but also our potential customers—what they need, when they need it and at times when they want it?
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