7 Tech Trends to Watch in 2019
With 2018 wrapped up, it’s time to turn our attention to the new year. What will 2019 hold? Below, we discuss seven tech trends that will shape the coming months.
1. Blockchain Implementation
Blockchain is a method that allows organizations to complete transactions without the aid of financial institutions or other external parties. This technology has appeared on many recent tech forecasts, but until now the consensus has been that existing blockchain solutions lack maturity and require further development before being implemented on a large scale.
According to IBM, though, an estimated 65% of major banks will employ blockchain to some extent this year. The banking industry is strongly interested in blockchain because it provides very high transaction security and transparency (at least in theory). To financial institutions plagued with cyber attacks and tasked with protecting customers’ sensitive data, such capabilities are extremely attractive.
Blockchain is becoming a valuable alternative to traditional, centralized ways of storing data. Implementing it can save time and money for all companies that are held accountable for data security but must use intermediaries to perform various transactions. Conducting transactions and exchanging data via blockchain makes data more easily securable and companies more independent of third-party procedures and limitations.
2. Getting Serious about Digital Ethics and Privacy
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect in May 2018, educated users about the value of their personal data and the standards set for storing it — and it generated a lot of work for companies when it was introduced!
Interestingly, GDPR also created a context for building competitive advantages. Users are more aware and thus are paying more attention to data security; they’re also more appreciative of organizations that provide a secure data environment. Therefore, it’s worth looking at GDPR, not as a tedious obligation, but as an opportunity to build better customer relationships and to develop new services orand solutions.
3. Mobile Channels Continue to Grow
Every year, more people are using mobile devices to find information, shop, and make payments. In just one year (2017 to 2018), the percentage of mobile users increased from 10 percent to 15 percent, with desktop PCs losing ground accordingly. Therefore, optimizing website functions for mobile use will be a priority for many industries. Companies will grow more interested in dedicated native applications as well as various frameworks and methodologies, such as Progressive Web Apps.
Biometric authentication methods (e.g. fingerprint readers) are also important factors in the mobile channel. Fingerprint scans may soon replace PIN codes or passwords as the main way of accessing confidential information.
4. SEO and Content Dominate Website Positioning
In 2019, we’ll still see a lot of attention being paid to website positioning. Correct linking, transferring, or metadata specifications have become standard features, but look for web content itself to gain growing significance. Also, how users interact with sites will be important to their overall ranking. "Technical SEO" remains a basic requirement, but to stand out among millions of other search results, an investment is needed in "engagement SEO", e.g. in making content relevant and engaging to the user.
As far back as 2015, Google announced that their RankBrain mechanism was the third most important factor in ranking among search results — and RankBrain supports the ranking of search results based on how users interact with them. For example, if someone clicks the first result offered to them by Google and then immediately clicks their back button because the content on that site is poor, RankBrain will push that site lower in the list of search results.
RankBrain focuses on two factors:
- Whether anyone has ever clicked on a given link (CTR)
- How much time somebody spent on a given website (Dwell Time).
Consequently, good SEO practices remain fundamental, but creating accurate, useful, and relevant content is becoming more important than ever.
5. Chatbots Emerge (and Get Smarter)
Customer service interactions (e.g for a bank, service, or store) are increasingly happening online, and they’re using tools which do not require active human participation on the business’ side. In other words, chatbots are becoming the front line of online customer service.
Today’s chatbots are well beyond such simple tools like we may remember from the past (i.e. Clippit from older versions of Word). Instead, advanced functioning based on Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence mechanisms are being employed to support users in their product selection purchasing processes.
So, for many businesses, an investment in an efficient chatbot can lead to significant cost savings in the customer service realm.
6. More and Simpler Payment Methods
Over the last two years, the number of available payment methods has increased significantly. This includes more than just cryptocurrencies, which are not yet mainstream; we’re also talking about e-wallet services like Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. Their popularity is partly owing to easy access through consumers’ phones, smart watches, and laptops and partly to their very easy use.
Thus, it’s becoming vital to do more than create simple, intuitive payment and checkout processes. Customers, especially when online, expect multiple payment methods which are easily accessible and do not require repeated logins or registrations.
7. Consistency and Simplicity in Multichannel Sales
Multichannel sales has been with us for some time now, but look for its importance to grow considerably in 2019. One of the key requirements of multichannel sales is reaching out to customers via offers and messages through multiple channels. However, the more channels of communication a company employs, the more difficult it becomes to keep its message and services consistent throughout. Additionally, customers expect that their buying experience will be simple no matter what their selected channel — a mobile application, an online store, a bricks-and-mortar retailer, etc. There are distinct benefits to optimizing the customer’s journey through many channels, e.g. when someone orders a product online and collects it personally in a store.
These seven trends will be prominent in the online financial and e-commerce markets. They’re not passing fads, like the color of the year (for Pantone, 2019 is the year that #FA7268 Living Coral will be king). On the contrary, they indicate directions for new and continued growth and are likely to gain even more prominence in the years to come.