In today’s modern, connected world, it’s more important than ever for companies to embrace technology and start offering their services 24/7/365. The increasing and unrelenting trend towards online shopping – combined with the rise in popularity of the major social channels like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter – means today’s consumers have come to expect round-the-clock sales, service, and support. Indeed, if your firm doesn’t offer 24-hour sales and contact options, you’ll likely lose out to your competitors that do.
The Influence Of The Millennial Generation
For the first time in history, we’re living with a generation that has grown up with the web, internet-based services, and social channels as part of their everyday life. The current generation is more internet-savvy than any other – meaning if you don’t adapt to their expectations, you’ll very likely stifle the growth of your company while also alienating or even losing clients.
Digital Is The Future Of Commerce
Few would argue against the tremendous influence the web and tech have had on society. However, it could well be argued technology has transformed the world of sales and retail more than any other aspect of modern life. As consumers move in their droves to shopping online, the e-commerce sector is beginning to play an increasingly important role for forward-thinking firms.
E-commerce’s share of the retail sector has grown year on year to the point that it is now estimated online sales account for around 18% of total retail sales globally – as compared to less than 5% in 2010.
The Coronavirus Effect
Since it first emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019, COVID has gone on to ravage the world, causing death and economic destruction in its wake. However, another important change has occurred through the spread of Coronavirus around the world. Largely due to the lockdown and isolation measures imposed by governments, shopping patterns have changed considerably with more of us than ever choosing (in many cases, being forced), to shop online rather than the previous real-world model.
This global shift in purchasing preferences is predicted to last way longer than the virus itself and industry experts suggest there has been a seismic shift change in shopping habits – one that is unlikely to simply disappear, regardless of vaccinations or the slowing effectiveness of COVID. Indeed, one recent study found the virus has likely accelerated the take-up and growth of e-commerce by as much as four to six years.
The Death Knell For Traditional Brick-And-Mortar Firms?
While it would be slightly fantastical to suggest all real-world, brick-and-mortar firms will simply disappear, there is nonetheless an undoubted trend towards the online model and the majority of today’s most successful companies are those that have embraced the digital revolution and moved their operations online (at least to some degree).
Online retail has sounded the death knell for some of our previously most profitable and most recognizable firms globally – and no company, regardless of size or sector, seems immune. Just a quick look at the last 10-20 years should make the message clear for firms – adapt and embrace new tech or die. There are countless examples of previously successful companies that failed to take the threat posed by online services seriously – or, indeed, failed to capitalize on the huge opportunities operating online can bring.
By embracing new technologies like selling online, social media promotion, virtual receptionist services, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firms are now able to sell their wares globally and a fraction of the cost of running real-world stores.
Industry 4.0 – The Fourth Industrial Revolution
There’s little denying the effect tech and the internet have had on how we live today on everything from how we shop to how we communicate, watch media and connect with each other. However, the recent advances in tech and, in particular, Artificial Intelligence (AI) have made many industry commentators suggest we are currently in throes of a fourth industrial revolution.
AI has come a very long way in a comparatively short time and today software and apps are playing an increasingly important role in the way companies operate. As the boundaries between our real and digital worlds continue to blur and we entrust more and more of personal and business data to online systems, so the importance of AI’s ability to extrapolate, study and interpret this data will grow.
The Demise Of Repetitive Tasks Heralding A New Age Of Productivity
AI is especially adept at performing time-consuming and repetitive tasks – exactly the kind of duties that so frequently cause a sinkhole for both time and resources in firms. By transferring these roles to AI, companies can become more productive while also improving efficiency.
Never has this been clearer than during the COVID outbreak. As firms increasingly had to adapt to a new world of remote working, so they became more and more reliant on connected technologies – in turn, using AI and web-based platforms to allow their staff to continue working.
However, another offshoot of this move to tech was the identification of so-called ‘pointless jobs’ – roles that could be performed by machines as well, if not better, than their human counterparts.
This shift to AI from human workers is a fundamental component of the new model proposed under the fourth industrial revolution and has the potential to change the workplace forever.
A Time When Humans And Machines Coexist
The fourth industrial revolution – also often referred to as Industry 4.0 – represents a time when man and machine will coexist for the benefit and betterment of both commerce and life. A time when machines will become commonplace in our everyday existence.
Just like the industrial revolutions that preceded it, Industry 4.0 has the potential to completely upend the way we live plus change how and where we work. While this might all seem like the stuff of tomorrow’s fiction, the changes are already well underway. Indeed, while you might not realize it, you likely already make use of AI services every day – on everything from Netflix to Spotify, Google Photos, and your online email inbox.
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