As the connected generation continues to expand, electronics companies and retailers are willing to engage further with consumers through advancements in technology that more than 10 years ago were considered fiction. Smartphones are becoming the device of choice for digital purchases, and in-depth research sources as Euromonitor claims that providing a more immersive and seamless mobile shopping experience is becoming more critical than ever for online businesses.
This increasing use and time spent on mobile devices is making advancements like Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence and the Smartphone Hub for home appliances, the technological bets by start-ups and big techs for upcoming years.
“The fact of providing a more immersive mobile shopping experience is becoming more critical than ever for online businesses” (Euromonitor, 2017).
What is true is that now IoT (Internet of Things) that encloses great part of these technologies is leading to new purchasing behaviours from online consumers. Without going too far, a good example of this interactivity with one of these technologies is the Niantic’s Pokemon GO application launched on summer last year (2016), which demonstrated the potential of AR integration on mobile devices. The milestone revealed market behaviours to have in account for businesses that want to interact in new ways with their customers. Over 2016 it also has been saw companies like Sephora, Wayfair and Lowe’s leveraging on AR or VR to enhance the shopping experience for their customers. Moreover, the incorporation of improved depth sensing cameras by many manufacturers will also boost the accuracy of AR use on the devices, while helping manufacturers to increase the perceived value of their Smartphones in MEDC´s.
The year 2017 will make it easy for consumers to use their smart home products – and AI will be the key enabler. Euromonitor suggests that it will be an uptick development in AI, particularly in enhancing voice control capabilities on applications managed trough mobile devices. The year 2016 marked a major step forward in AI development, as companies like Apple and Facebook stepped up to invest together on its research. Currently, the technology giants are buying start-ups and competing to attract the best researchers from academia in this field. In 2015 a record $8.5 billion was spent on AI companies, nearly four times as much as in 2010 according to Quid, a data-analysis company.
But besides that AI implementation offer great business opportunities, it also brings concerns as job stability in certain digital sectors. The topic sentiment is making some experts worry about the future market labour in the short term; while others remain sceptical about the negative consequences of the phenomenon. Investors are piling into the field and currently developing techniques to improve, from website traffic tracking to auto reply systems for interacting with consumers in real-time. For example, The Economist made reference last year about the AI technique called “deep learning” which currently allows systems to learn and improve by crunching lots of examples rather than being explicitly programmed.
Currently many experts support the vast potential of AI technology in sectors that are not even directly linked with technology, and here is where preoccupations rise.
“This technology will be applied in pretty much every industry out there that has any kind of data—anything from genes, to images, to language. AI will be everywhere…”
Says Richard Socher, founder of MetaMind, an AI start-up recently acquired by Salesforce.
Having the context in mind, small/medium organizations could start taking new ways of differentiation trough the use of VR and AR apps for consolidating brand image with consumers and engage closely with them. On the other hand, the use of AI for building complex algorithms to recognize market behaviours and learn from them, could be used for the moment at a lower scale for online business with fair resources, such as auto-response chats on web pages, suggest e-mail replies, translate web sites or recognising voice commands.
The Economist (2016). “The return of the machinery question”. Artificial intelligence. A special report from the print edition. Retrieved from <http://econ.st/292aiez>
Euromonitor International. (2017). “Key Electronic Trends for 2017”. Retrieved from Euromonitor Passport database.