More than six out of 10 of respondents said that Chatbots would be important to their organisation in the next five years; and 28 per cent said that they would be introducing Chatbots into their business in the next 12 months. This was the most popular response from all digital trends that are going to be implemented in 2019.
In the same research, just a quarter of businesses currently use Chatbots as part of their digital practices.
The survey was carried out by digital agency Code Computerlove as part of an in-depth study into the opinions and digital practices of UK businesses and it garnered response from almost 500 client-side digital decision makers.
While Chatbots topped the list of digital trends considered most important in the next five years (as well as what organisations will be implementing in the next 12 months), Mobile Payments weren’t far behind as the second most popular response. More than half (55%) claim mobile payments are an important solution for future advancement. Voice assistants (47%) and Augmented Reality (35.5%) came third and fourth on the list.
The trends considered least important for the next five years were Virtual Reality and Blockchain.
Looking at what companies plan to implement in the next 12 months, just behind Chatbots were loyalty schemes/products with 27.5 per cent of respondents saying that this will be a priority for 2019. A third of businesses questioned currently have loyalty schemes or products in place.
Marketing / sales automation came in as the third most popular digital solution to implement followed by Progressive Web Apps (PWA).
When it comes to Customer Relationship Management (CRM), three quarters of businesses currently have a CRM system and of those who haven’t almost all said that they will be implementing one in the coming year.
Commenting on the results Tony Foggett from Code Computerlove said, “In such a fast changing industry – and digital world – there is always lots of discussion about trends in technology and digital touchpoints.
“At the end of last year we predicted that Chatbots were one of three digital trends to watch for the year ahead, unsurprising with the amount of discussion and column inches the topic was getting as a major step forward to facilitate customer relationships.
“And they’re now coming into the mainstream with continued uptake and sophistication. As our report shows significant numbers of businesses plan to invest in loyalty schemes, Chatbots and CRM in the coming year.
“Looking slightly further ahead, at which trends will have the biggest impact on businesses in the next five years, we see that there will be a significant shift towards voice interfaces and a concomitant demand for AI in their delivery. At the other end of the scale is Blockchain that’s creating relatively little excitement; possibly because it is still regarded as a solution looking for a problem, or possibly because people still don’t really understand it.
“Interestingly, despite the amount of discussion around Virtual Reality as a trend this is also bottom of the list.”
Foggett added, “As with all trends, their implementation often depends of how far along the digital transformation journey an organisation is and how Omni channel their operations are. Knowing what technologies and tactics to invest in can often be the biggest challenge facing decision makers, but more and more businesses are tackling this with a product thinking approach that helps to make these decisions clearer.
“From my perspective, the next big thing in the business world isn’t a ‘new’ piece of tech or marketing trend; it’s a different approach to work.
“Embracing a culture of experimentation mean that businesses can explore trends in a way that is natural, valuable and validated, without the need for huge investment or organisational transformation.
“Product thinking is a way in which organisations are navigating the need to deliver increased consumer centricity and agility using larger more complex, and business critical, technology platforms.
“It’s a way of achieving digital effectiveness as part of a digital transformation process, but it’s not just a question of adopting new digital tools and platforms, it’s the ways of thinking and organising teams around these tools and across an organisation as a whole – a mindset based on continually building value for the customer through an agile, non-siloed, digitally-savvy culture with clearly defined business goals.”
The survey also looked at differences in opinion and digital practices between companies that were outperforming their competitors versus the mainstream.