Is Your Business Relevant?


Photo of a hand holding a smartphone with a droid bot hovering above.

Staying relevant in this fast moving and ever-changing day and age is a challenge. Innovations in the way we live are influencing the way we work. Businesses are no longer influencing customers as much as customers, environment, and technology are influencing businesses.

This month, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) made its annual appearance in Las Vegas, occupying nearly 90 percent of all available convention and banquet space. And even though the show is called “consumer” electronics, its impact on business is enormous.

The biggest game changers are Chatbots and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers that are connected to everything from household appliances to infrastructure. Not only are these IoT devices connected, but they are also gathering information and charting trends or patterns that can anticipate your every need.

Chatbots are communicating with customers in ways never imagined.

What was relevant yesterday, may be obsolete today. The grocery store ads that are delivered to your mailbox every Wednesday, along with the fast food coupons and the special sale on mattresses (honestly, when is a mattress not on sale), are hardly relevant. Every grocery chain, Albertsons, Sprouts, Smiths, etc., have phone apps with digital coupons and sale items at your fingertips.

Now that Amazon has bought Whole Foods, it has entered the grocery business in a big way; now all that a customer needs to do is just think about the item that they want to purchase, and it is automatically delivered to their door. (Actually, that is an exaggeration, you have to do a little more than think about the item to make your purchase, but than again, this is only January, give them a few weeks. Yes, changes are happening that fast.) Currently, Amazon has eliminated store checkout clerks and uses technology to open an app on your smartphone as soon as you walk through the door of Whole Foods. If you pick an item off the shelf and put it in your basket, that item is automatically charged to your account, and a running total is visible on your smartphone. When you exit the store, the total grocery bill is finalized and charged to your credit card.

Many retail stores track the type of products that you purchase along with the frequency of purchases and use beacons that, while roaming their isles, that will send an electronic alert to your smartphone of the sale items that you use.

Modern appliances are taking the guessing game out of nearly everything we do. Refrigerators keep track of the food that goes in and the food that comes out, automatically making a shopping list of items that are used and need to be replaced. (I still do it the old fashion way, when I drink the last of the orange juice, I merely tell Alexa to add it to my shopping list.)

However, one of the most relevant, mold-breaking, advances to business is the development of Chatbots.

Today’s customers don’t want to navigate complex websites or mobile apps to find the information they seek. They want an immediate connection with someone or something, that can provide fast and accurate information.

Chatbots are growing in popularity, primarily driven by Gen Z’s preferred methods of communication and the fact that they are comfortable conducting most daily activities on mobile devices.

Chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) programs that communicate with customers through a dialogue box on the business website and are capable of understanding complex requests and personalized responses. These dialogue boxes can be used for lead generation, a quick response to frequently asked questions, or provide triage by gathering information that will allow the bot to direct the inquiry to the proper department.

Brands looking to engage with Gen Z have dived into the chatbot pool, launching some of today’s most popular chatbots. Sephora and H&M have created bots that share fashion advice, and Saban Brands, with its teen-focused entertainment film and TV franchises, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is offering one-on-one conversations with actors and characters. Facebook reports that developers have created more than 11,000 chatbots for its Messenger platform, and Kik – one of the most popular messaging platforms – unveiled 6,000 new chatbots in one month.

How are these IoT devices affecting your business?

If you are a medical professional, the collection and consolidation of patient information will be a significant step in analyzing, diagnosing, and understanding a patient’s needs. And don’t worry about security, all of that information will be kept safe using blockchain technology.

With IoT technology, businesses of all types are able to track customer purchasing trends which in turn will finetune product ordering and warehousing needs along with personnel scheduling.

And in an age where customers rule, understanding them and creating the best customer experience is more important than ever. Today’s customers expect to have seamless interactions with companies, no matter which IoT device they are using. That means businesses need to connect with their customers and not wait for them to connect with you.

Businesses that are not adopting IoT technology will cease being relevant and more than likely be left in the dust—and probably go out of business.

At Business Finance Corporation, we want to help you stay relevant. Let us help you put your receivables to work so that your business can keep in touch and up-to-date with its customers through the Internet of Things.

Your Partner in Success,

David Cabral