Digital, Computer, Laptop, Smartphone

Guest article by Superfast Business Wales

As we come towards the end of 2018, it’s time to start preparing your business for the next 12 months.

If you want to remain competitive, or take a step up in 2019, one of the best ways to do so is to look at how you can make the most of anticipated trends.

You can stay ahead of your competition, reach customers in new and exciting ways, and grow your business.

Here’s 5 digital trends that are predicted to shape 2019…

1. Social media will become more integrated with other services

It will become more commonplace for social media platforms to share data across third party apps, which will create a more seamless experience for the customer.

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This will continue to drive the importance of social media for consumers, whilst also highlighting ways to provide a better service. If you’re not yet on top of your social media presence, now’s the time!

2. Video’s popularity will grow

Both live and traditional video will continue to dominate the online space. According to research by Cisco, video traffic will account for 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021, and live internet video will account for 13% of all the internet video traffic.

If you’re new to using video to market your business, you can start simply by using Facebook and Instagram’s live function to share updates with your audience. Once you’re confident with the format, you can start experimenting!

3. Chatbots will become normal

I can hear the sighs already! It’s true – we’ve all probably had a negative or irritating experience with a chatbot, but as technology develops, steps have been made to better process natural language and sentiment.

According to Spiceworks, 40% of large businesses will have implemented intelligent assistants, or ‘chatbots’, by 2019.

The automated way of handling customer queries or requests could soon trickle down to small and medium sized businesses.

This is great news as it hands the time and effort taken to handle requests over to automated processes, freeing up time for you to focus on the business.

Even if you’re not planning to implement your own chatbot, it’s worth considering how the normalisation of these tools will change customer service – and particularly, the speed and level of customer support your audience will expect.

4. Cloud adoption will continue to grow

The cloud is continuing to evolve as more and more people are using it, for a variety of reasons.

Forbes suggests that ‘multicloud’ will be a new buzzword in the ‘cloud conversation’, as businesses pick and choose the different types of cloud they use for particular business or IT processes.

Regardless of how and why you’re using the cloud, the focus will be on making sure all of your different systems are secure, work seamlessly and can be streamlined.

This is great for smaller businesses as it means less pressure to feel like all of your business needs to be hauled into the cloud, and instead you can take smaller steps.

Start moving different elements into the cloud, whilst considering how you can integrate these new processes into your existing ones.

5. Data will be more important than ever

Data has been a key topic of discussion in 2018, particularly with the GDPR. But, it’s not going to die down in 2019.

However big or small your business is, you’re likely to have a lot of data – but how effectively are you using it?

To stay competitive in 2019, businesses will need to find meaningful ways to use the data that they are collecting, to drive growth.

Forbes suggests that big businesses will be investing in machine learning, to process and understand their data – but small and medium sized businesses can start doing this now.

Whether it’s a CRM system, Google Analytics or looking at your social media analytics, there are simple ways that you can use the data in your hands to shape and grow your business in 2019.

Have you started to plan for 2019?

Find out how Superfast Business Wales can help you grow your business by registering for the free 1:1 support now. You will receive a tailored digital action plan to guide your next steps.

Superfast Business Wales is a free business support service that helps eligible small and medium sized Welsh businesses make the most of online technology.

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