Technology and the Customer Impact in 2017

From market share battles of telco operators, to the growing influence of Amazon and smart homes, 2017 is shaping up to be a transformative year for Technology Media and Telco (TMT). There are several technology trends that Moorhouse is tracking, which we believe will have a significant impact on the TMT sector in 2017.

Customer service and perceptions are becoming increasingly important in TMT. In the 2016 UK Customer Satisfaction Index, telco’s came last for customer service. The Moorhouse Customer and Digital and Technology (D&T) team has identified several trends that are set to transcend the customer experience in 2017 and TMT clients will need to transform how they run their businesses and serve their customers to respond to these trends.

The following are the top seven trends you should keep an eye on in 2017.

1. AR and VR

We have already seen some major steps forward for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology in 2016. Oculus Rift was released and thousands of VR apps and games followed.

AR and VR have the potential to radically change retail and the customer experience. AR and VR offer retailers the opportunity to transform how people shop. One customer might try on shirts without having to travel to the shop. Another might order furniture on the spot, confident that it’s right for their house. Applications using either technology, stand to eliminate customer pain points, elevate customer service, and create a differentiated and personalised customer experience.

AR and VR will be particularly useful for companies that produce potentially dangerous or harmful products such as chemicals, weapons and heavy machinery which need to be evaluated before use. They will be able to test their product within a virtual environment, but at no risk to themselves or their employees.

An interesting insight on the next steps required to take AR and VR mainstream can be found here.

2. Arrival of the Smart Home & IoT

We have been hearing about the forthcoming revolution of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and resulting interconnectedness of smart home technology for years. Why, therefore are we not all living in smart, connected homes by now? Part of the problem is that there are many individual appliances and apps on the market, but few solutions exist to tie everything together into a single, seamless user experience. Now that bigger companies already well-versed in uniform user experiences (like Google, Amazon, and Apple) are getting involved, we expect to see some major advances on this front in the coming year.

At the tail end of 2016, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg posted a video of a new smart home assistant he had programmed for his own house. Called 'Jarvis', the programme greets him when he wakes up, cooks his toast, reminds him of upcoming events and takes orders to do things like start a videoconferencing call.

2017 will see huge strides toward automation and the infusion of AI into ordinary homes. For further reading on Mark Zuckerberg’s smart home assistant, Jarvis, see here.

3. Voice Technology Will Continue to Transform Computing

Voice assistants are rapidly expanding in households and smartphones. Apple’s Siri handles over 2bn commands a week, and 20% of Google searches on Android-powered handsets in the US are input by voice. Simple though it may seem, voice has the power to transform computing, by providing a natural means of interaction. Being able to talk to computers abolishes the need for the abstraction of a “user interface”. In many situations voice is far more convenient and natural than any other means of communication. Uniquely, it can also be used while doing something else (driving, exercising or walking down the street). To read more about the benefits of voice technology, see here.

4. 3D Printing

Consumer-grade 3D printers have been around for close to half a decade, yet prices have been well above the level that most can afford. However, a reliable 3D printer can now be purchased for £200-300, which is half of what they cost a year ago. With 3D printers accessible to anyone, the way we accumulate things will change.

In addition to consumption, the possible uses for 3D printing have the potential to radically change a wide range of industries including; medicine - 3D printing has been used to print organs from a patient's own cells which means that patients may no longer have to wait a long time for donors in the future, the automotive and aerospace industries (to make prototypes) and the arms industry where printing guns will render governments ability to enforce gun control virtually impossible.

5. Amazon continues to set the trend – every day is a shopping day!

Last year, retailers such as Argos and PC World all started their post-Christmas sales on 25th December online. They were doing so in response to one overarching competitor: Amazon. The world's biggest, most aggressive retailer has never believed in no-shopping days and has had post-Christmas sales on Christmas Day for years. Amazon’s rules are starting to prevail in the entire retail industry.

In North America and the UK, Amazon is introducing same-day delivery as standard on some products, seven days a week. It is also buying aircraft to guarantee that it doesn't have to rely on third-party delivery companies to deliver products on time. Amazon is ploughing money into this because the company prioritises growth and innovation over profits.

How can traditional retailers compete with Amazon’s aggressive strategy? If, as expected drones start delivering consumer products in 2017, it's a safe bet that Amazon will be among the first to do it. According to businessinsider.com, Amazon started testing drones in UK airspace in 2015, so they would appear to be well ahead of their competitors with regards to drone delivery. Read more about Amazon’s testing of drones here.

6. 5G is on the way

Whilst it is looking unlikely that 5G services will be launched in the UK prior to 2020, 2017 will see progress in the development of 5G. EE made the biggest and fastest push for 4G networks and there’s reason to believe it will do the same for 5G.

However, we anticipate that rivals aren’t likely to be far behind. Vodafone is already working on 5G, having partnered with Huawei and Nokia to prepare its network for a transition to 5G and to carry out field tests.

As part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s 2016 Autumn Statement, the government has committed to invest over £1bn over the next 4 years on 5G and the roll-out of new fibre networks. In the meantime, Ofcom regulations and the Emergency Services Network, ensure a greater quality of 4G Services in 2017. In 2015, Ofcom imposed new licencing requirements on the UK's four largest mobile network operators (MNOs), stating that each network must ensure that the voice services they provide cover at least 90% of the UK's "geographic landmass" by the end of 2017.

7. Everything on Demand

Thanks to brands like Uber and Airbnb (and the resulting madness of start-ups built on the premise of being the “Uber of ____”), people are getting used to having everything on demand via phone apps. In 2017, we expect this to see this develop even further. We have thousands of apps available to us to get rides, food deliveries, and even a place to stay for the night.

In addition, with regards to “on demand” consumer entertainment, TV on demand is rapidly replacing traditional television viewing behaviour. As the name suggests, on-demand TV is a technology that lets you watch what you like, when you like, over the internet. You will no longer be tied to TV channels’ schedules, giving you the freedom to watch TV your way which gives power back to the customer. All the major UK broadcasters are now making at least some of their programming available on demand via the internet.

Conclusion

Taking ‘Strategy in to Action’ is a core proposition for Moorhouse and is at the heart of the business transformations that will result from each of the trends highlighted and required by businesses to stay ahead. Standing still is not an option and any original competitive advantage will quickly be eroded.

‘Keeping up with the Customer’ is an area that we are constantly exploring with our clients and their customers and our recent White Paper on the steps to take to achieve this can be found here.

In addition, the 2017 Moorhouse Barometer on Change provides key insights on meeting increasingly challenging customer’s expectations. The Barometer on Change can be downloaded here.

If you would like to get in touch to discuss the shifts highlighted and impacts on your business and your customers, please don’t hesitate to contact us through kevinclarke@moorhouseconsulting.com or via our website.

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