Six Technology Trends Driving Competitive Advantage
Contributed by Dileep Srinivasan
Companies need to create a digital agenda to capitalize on these six technology trends.
An examination of up-and-coming technologies reveals opportunities to apply breakthroughs to your organization's advantage. The six technologies discussed here are not necessarily new in terms of having just appeared but companies are beginning to use them in innovative ways that will drive profits for years to come.
The Top 6 Technology Trends
1. Mobile devices. By no means a new technology, mobile devices exploded in the last five years due to widespread consumer adoption of smartphones (notably the iPhone) and tablets (chiefly the iPad). In fact, according to IDC, sales of smartphones surpassed those of PCs in 2010 , with smartphone shipments growing 87% from 2009 to 2010 while PC shipments rose only 3%. Consumers now expect to be able to consume data anywhere, any time, on any device, and business user expectations are only slightly behind consumers'.
Any organization that has not already enabled mobile consumption of its data (or does not have an active project for such) is in danger of failing to provide a critical aspect of customer experience.
2. Game dynamics or “gamification” techniques involve the application of game design techniques and mechanisms to create compelling, interactive content. Game dynamics will be a large part of strategies that involve consumer engagement. The use of game dynamics will be the next wave for generating customer loyalty.
“Gamified” business apps will help companies overcome inertia and mistrust, breaking down traditional barriers to collaboration by offering an incentive for doing so. In fact, some organizations are already applying elements of game dynamics to influence community and collaboration among employees, customers and even partners.
3. Augmented Reality (AR). AR has enormous potential and limitless possible applications in both the consumer and business worlds. Advanced companies are already putting AR to countless innovative uses everything from a virtual mirror to check out how clothes and hairstyles would look on you to virtual worlds on your smartphone that orient you to your surroundings using floating icons.
AR adds much sizzle to the consumer experience, but also has a highly practical side. A business that buys a high-end printer, for example, might get up to speed on its features via an AR application. Field service personnel could access AR tutorials to better understand how to repair a piece of equipment. Virtual agents already welcome visitors into a variety of Web sites, making users feel more of a personal connection with the material presented there.
4. Social currency. Related to the “gamification” trend, social currency involves a form of currency (points, ratings and the like) that users earn in an online social context. The rewards points that credit cards offer in exchange for meeting certain purchasing levels were an early form of social currency. E-community sites are already offering social currency in exchange for posting user-generated content. In addition to virtually limitless consumer application possibilities, businesses can offer social currency to motivate their employees toward preferred behaviors, such as collaboration. Consumer and B2B marketplaces will be built on social currencies.
5. Location-based applications. This is another area that cannot be considered new but will come to greater prominence (even ubiquity) in coming years. Many organizations, especially those serving consumers, are examining how they can use location-based applications to delight their customers.
Location-based apps require a particularly thoughtful approach as they necessarily impact the user's privacy. We believe this concern will lessen, however, especially among millennials and their younger counterparts, as users see the value of swapping some privacy rights for information and value.
6. Virtual goods. Unimaginable just a few short years ago, virtual goods are just that online incarnations of things that people want in the real world (e.g., flowers, clothing, jewels and cars), as well as those things that exist only virtually (such as avatars). Online consumers have embraced virtual goods with a passion. According to the Inside Virtual Goods report, the U.S. virtual goods market will reach $2.1 billion this year.
Enterprises of all types and sizes must build a digital agenda incorporating these six technology trends to remain competitive today and survive in tomorrow's marketplace.
Learn more about key technology trends and how Cognizant can help your organization create and sustain competitive advantage.