As we draw closer to the end of 2016, it is important that we take a moment to look back and reflect on all of the ways technology has inspired us, and transformed the way we live and do work.
As technology becomes more pervasive in our lives, we increasingly look for simple but secure, as well as consistent and engaging experiences, regardless of the device we’re using. To augment and overcome physical distance, we are starting to use drones, virtual reality, and driverless cars. “Cognitive computing,” artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced data analytics are evolving companies’ understanding of their customers in game-changing ways.
Meanwhile, biometrics has stepped out of the realm of sci-fi and into the mainstream, playing an important role in the fight against cybercrime.
Here are the top five ways technology has impacted us this year.
1. The Device-Agnostic Customer Experience
Back in 2013, Google reported that 90 percent of multiple device owners switch between screens to complete tasks, using an average of three different combinations every day. Today, the “device mesh,” as Gartner describes it, has rapidly expanded to include a wide range of end points such as mobile devices, wearables, consumer electronics, and automotive devices.
Through screen mirroring, users have greater flexibility over how they view – and share – content. Compatibility and a seamless, simple user experience is essential for instant switching.
Already, many online retailers enable consumers to begin shopping on one device, and end on another. According to eMarketer, customers browse for goods on their smartphones but more often than not complete their purchases in another way. While a laptop or computer’s keyboard lends itself to the relative complexity of completing a transaction – entering text details and navigating between form fields – with technology improvements in mobile commerce this is changing. So much so, that eMarketer forecasts 51.2 percent of digital buyers in the U.S. will make at least one purchase via a smartphone next year.
To take the customer experience still further, data analytics can explore the detail behind each customer journey – where it started, how it developed, and how it ended – and support merchants and retailers in optimizing both the experience and synchronization across devices.
2. The Continued Growth of Cloud
Early this year, IDC predicted that worldwide spending on public cloud services will be $141 billion in 2019, while last year Amazon Web Services achieved net sales of $7.88 billion. (This growth in the take-up of cloud services reflects our own experience at MetricStream, with over 70 percent of our customers choosing the MetricStream Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) Cloud to deploy their GRC apps and solutions in 2015.)
Where security concerns may have previously put companies off cloud, the tide may now be turning. Gartner has predicted that security will in fact become a primary reason for government’s adoption of cloud, with research director Neville Cannon pointing out that the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google can invest more than most government agencies in security.
Companies want to be convinced that the cloud can improve their performance, optimize value, and protect their data. While service providers continue to evolve advanced security, companies know they need their own stringent governance and risk measures, including regular vulnerability assessments and continuous control monitoring to effectively secure their cloud environment.
3. The All-Important User Experience
Customer expectations now demand seamless and satisfying user experiences. For tech, this means even more focus on usability, compatibility, and memorability. Brands that are easy-to-use, collaborative, responsive, and efficient stand to form lasting customer relationships.
Meeting demands for content how, when, and where customers want it, and in the format they expect, means hyper-tailored content, along with mobile-enabled experiences and context-sensitive notifications. Customers expect a range of ways to engage with a company and the right balance of convenience and personalization. In the past three years, according to Customer Experience Insight, the use of alternative contact channels has risen – Web self-service and chat by 18 percent and 43 percent respectively.
Through predictive analytics, companies can derive meaningful insights to satisfy customers with personalized products and services, while at the same time using their enhanced market knowledge to evolve business strategy and planning.
4. Training Transformation through Virtual Reality and Gamification
Tools and techniques used in gaming to motivate and engage users can be adopted by digital training programs. Virtual reality has the potential to reinvent training by immersing trainees in near real-life scenarios, enabling them to learn by actually doing and to fail safely.
Gamification is now used by companies keen to enhance the learning experience and increase learner performance. Methods include story-based games, animations, simulations, instant learner feedback, and recognition of achievements.
It can make learning more fun, while at the same time raising information retention and learner engagement rates. So much so, that when Deloitte incorporated elements of gamification into its online Leadership Academy it saw a 50 percent increase in course completions.
5. Security Shortcomings Tackled with Biometrics
The use of biometric data to authenticate and validate user access to devices, applications, and systems is on the increase. Over a quarter of smartphones now have a fingerprint reader, Deloitte’s Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2016 reveals, and about a fifth of smartphone users in the U.K. use this for authentication.
The use of biometrics will continue to increase. Identity verification through a fingerprint or voice pattern offers advantages over username and password combinations. It gets around the long-standing problem of forgotten passwords, and is more secure than a written-down password or reuse of the same one across services.
The security benefits of biometrics are particularly important now that we process more sensitive information online, including payments from our phones, banking transactions, and management of our social lives through social media.
These five developments show us that we’ve come a long way. Technology, as it becomes more pervasive in our personal and professional lives, will continue to evolve to provide more seamless device-agnostic user experiences, help companies safeguard their assets and perform better, while also delighting and engaging end users.
The original article published in Xconomy can be viewed here