The digital agency Petra publishes an annual list of the ten most important digital business trends set to shape the industry in the year ahead. This list, published since 2012, focuses on the digital trends that help companies drive sales and position themselves in an increasingly competitive market.
In 2020, the following trends will determine your business opportunities:
1. Digital advertising systems will get even smarter
In recent years, there has been a major focus on the power of digital advertising in directing campaigns towards specific target groups and achieving short-term results. And the ad systems are becoming even smarter: now you can determine who should see what type of ad with mindboggling accuracy. This means that if you want to build your brand, digital advertising can ensure that as many potential customers as possible in your target group are exposed to the ads, and that the ads are as visible to them as possible. You can also do activation-driven campaigns with greater precision than ever by targeting people who are “in-market”, i.e., who are close to a purchase decision.
2. Google’s BERT launch affects SEO
BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is one of Google’s most significant updates since 2015. It has proven successful in comprehending the intent of a search query. BERT affects longer, more conversational queries where the context of the words in the query are difficult to understand. Keep an eye on your organic traffic via long-tail searches.
3. AI and machine learning become everyday tools
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is expanding at an even faster rate next year. Companies are now selling easily managed cloud-based tools at reasonable costs. For example, IBM offers an AI chat bot that you can configure in ten minutes. And this October, Sitecore launched Auto Personalization as a part of their Experience Platform. Another example is Coveo, a search-and-recommendations tool designed for Salesforce, Sitecore, Dynamics365 and other applications.
4. [Digital] emotions become increasingly important
B2B customers have a different emotional connection to their vendors and service providers than consumers. This connection has often been overlooked, but it is just as strong and important for sales as the B2C connection. Your communication in words, films, images, typography, colors and UX need to convey the emotional arguments that drives sales.
5. Extended reality (XR) gets its business breakthrough
XR is the combination of the VR and AR worlds – with a VR headset you can place a holographic piano in the room that you can play on. XR has been used in the gaming world for a couple of years, and in 2020 the technology will make its big breakthrough in business, according to the author, futurist and Forbes writer Bernard Marr. XR will become increasingly important for everything from training to simulations, and it will be used to develop methods to interact with customers.
6. IoT data becomes a marketing tool
All connected devices (IoT) will provide a data goldmine for marketers. The data can give advertisers the ability to run personalized, contextual, and location-based ads. For instance, if you are near a supermarket where you regularly shop, location-based ads or push notifications could show you a list of groceries you might want to buy, based on your historical data and consumption patterns.
7. Computer-based vision and facial recognition go mainstream
There is not only a wide roll-out of new gadgets for consumers – there are also many new B2B solutions hitting the market, such as cameras and software that can automatically detect defective products or logistic problems on production lines. Several camera suppliers offer advanced solutions related to smart cities – not only for crime surveillance, but also in areas such as public safety, mobility, and environmental monitoring. Computer vision solutions are also making facial recognition a hot topic.
8. The need for a consistent consumer experience increases
Creating great customer experiences and optimizing user journeys across all touchpoints in customer-centric ways leads to success. Customers engage with companies with different devices in different channels, but they expect the customer experience to stay consistent wherever they engage. If they, for example, search for product information via their mobile phone and buy the product on their laptop, it’s important that the user experience is optimized throughout the customer journey.
9. A 360 view of the customer helps provide real value
A customer data platform (CDP) centralizes customer data from all sources where customers interact with a company and makes this data available for other systems. When you have the customer’s behavioral data from marketing, sales, customer service, and the devices and services they are using (IoT) in one place, you get a 360-degree view of the customer and know how to interact and provide real value to them. CDP can be used for data-driven marketing and user experience personalization on scale.
10. Data and analytics light the path to increased profitability
While data has been a hot topic for the past 10 years, many companies are only now realizing that they lack strategies and plans for how to utilize their data. What should be done with the data, and how can they enrich that data? Is it IT's responsibility to manage the data, or is it a job for the marketing department? Analytics provides a foundation for powering customer insight and further marketing actions. Marketing organizations need to build more knowledge and capabilities to take full advantage of their data.