When you combine this past years unprecedented experiences with 15+ years as CEO, customer and partner interactions, countless technical training and certifications, and reading any technical trend article and email I can get my hands on, you might have a pretty solid understanding of which technologies and strategies to make a priority for your optimal business success.
Enjoy my 2021 outlook below!
Retail and E-Commerce
2020 showed us that our communities chose to support local businesses, buying local as an alternative to the convenience and sometimes lower pricing of large online marketplaces or offshore services. This was despite many folks having to tighten their own belts due to the economic downturn. Although the community support is priceless, it’s forced a lot of uncomfortable change for traditional brick and mortar businesses to offer goods and services online.
In 2021 it’s going to be critically important to engage and nurture these audiences and to maintain loyalty. Some business owners who have not embraced a digital strategy may find this process intimidating and uncomfortable. If so it’s important to recognize when it makes sense to get help, in order to retain the local support. Those who embrace and lean into these changes will fare better in 2021.
No longer restricted to the lore of science fiction, AI is integral to business success. While AI has become more mainstream, it is not yet ubiquitous and it’s still out of reach for many. In the 50s and 60s it was thought that technology was supposed to give us more free time to enjoy life. Instead it has allowed us to get more done in the same amount of time, inflicted attention deficit as we are inundated with information, and I’m not convinced we’re better for it.
Unfortunately the genie is out of the bottle and those businesses which adopt AI technologies earlier are going to see a better long term outcome. It’s not a question of “if” your competition will use AI, it’s only a question of when. AI technologies will become a bigger part of business websites, and this will not be limited to large businesses. Make a point to learn about how AI can benefit your business in your specific industry.
While many find it patronizing and bordering on “creepy” (myself included), with so little time to spend on each individual objective, we find ourselves choosing the shortest path to complete each task. This is represented in our purchasing behaviors across the board, whether that’s ordering online instead of in-store, or choosing where we get in-person services based on how quickly and efficiently we can get in and out, even if it comes at a premium.
Part of engaging and maintaining your relationships with your customers requires you to personalize those experiences. The better job you can do to match your customers interests with your product or service offerings, the shorter the path and thus least resistance to a sale. Remember Staples and the Easy Button? Embrace being the easy button earlier than later.
Does your website have Google Analytics? Do you ever look at it? Even if you haven’t looked recently, you should absolutely add this FREE resource. It doesn’t provide all the answers, but it can’t give you historical information if it’s not turned on. In order to understand your customers, you have to gain insights as to their interests and engagement as it relates to your website and your brand.
Beyond basic website analytics, other tools allow you to see how visitors interact (or not) with the content within the pages of your website. These tools are not new, nor are they limited to your big competitors, and they do come at an expense. Your visitors have micro attention spans, and if they can’t quickly find what they want, you lose a precious opportunity. Analytics may seem intimidating and overwhelming, but those who embrace them will be able to act strategically.
Diversify and Scale
This seems like an obvious one even outside of a pandemic, but what we collectively learned is that too much focus can be a bad thing. Whether that’s a wider selection of products and services, or it’s a matter of how you monetize on those, depends on the business. Likewise businesses that don’t embrace scaling out often miss an opportunity to monetize on their investments – hence economies of scale.
The reason the software industry transitioned to subscription only licensing is that they couldn’t depend on consistent revenue from “optional” upgrades. The result is that customers always get the latest features and bug fixes, and can do more as a result of those improvements. Think about how you can bring recurring revenue into your business while adding value for your customer.
As a strategic technical business advisor, my brigade and I are happy to assist your organization with any of these initiatives as well as several other customized service offerings. Please get in touch via email or schedule a brief meeting.