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It may sound cliche, but we’re officially in the digital economy.
“If you’re feeling whiplash, it might be the ten years forward we just jumped in 90 days time.” This is how the final McKinsey & Companies quarterly briefing of 2020 began, which was fittingly dubbed “The Quickening” — a stunning glimpse into the meteoric rise of all things digital.
Their research found that eCommerce penetration in the United States had experienced ten years of growth in the first quarter of 2020 alone.
That number is only increasing. If you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, you must have a digital-first strategy if you want to succeed.
Being an entrepreneur for over a decade and starting my first business during the last global recession, I’ve learned that you must pay attention to emerging trends and consumer behavior.
In changing economies and market downturns, you need every advantage you can get. Oftentimes, that means taking advantage of opportunities, trends, or technologies that your competitors are not yet paying attention to.
Here are three emerging mega-trends you need to know about.
The no-code revolution
Building software has traditionally required either technical expertise or significant investment in a development team.
According to PayScale, the average annual salary for a single React engineer (a popular front-end development framework) is $91,985. These hurdles meant that in the past, lots of budding entrepreneurs with great ideas were stuck dead in their tracks.
Enter the “no-code” revolution.
Tools like Bubble.is, Airtable and Glide help level the playing field by allowing anyone regardless of programming knowledge to build a fully-fledged web or mobile application with drag-and-drop components and visual interfaces.
Using these tools, business owners or team members can unlock innovation or improve efficiency in even the smallest of companies — without using any code.
Related: Workflows Are the Future of Automation
The rise of the bots
According to Juniper Research, retail sales resulting from interactions with chatbots are forecast to nearly double every year — reaching $112 billion by 2023.
Juniper anticipates that retailers who don’t take note and implement bots in their business will face strong challenges from more technologically-inclined disruptors.
While somewhat in their infancy in the Western world, globally, bots are big business.
In China, a significant portion of commerce happens through bots via the WeChat app. According to Tencent’s Q4 2019 financials, the number of commercial transactions happening on their app reached 1 billion per day.
Bots are growing rapidly here in the Western world too, with venture capital firms pouring huge amounts of money into bot-driven companies like Drift and Intercom.
Bots can be used to drive sales, collect leads, help solve customer problems without human interaction (increasingly important as more and more consumers shop online), or can even be used as fun engagement tools — think text-based adventure games — to keep an audience sticking around.
Related: How AI is Driving Marketing Automation
Voice apps are radio 2.0
Podcasts are booming.
In 2020, Spotify sent earthquakes through the tech world when they announced they would be signing leading podcaster Joe Rogan to an exclusive deal worth $100 million.
Online listening has doubled over the last ten years, reaching 70% of the United States, while the 2020 Infinite Dial study recorded an incredible 100 million monthly podcast listeners.
But it’s not just podcasts. Looking ahead, there’s a new wave of voice apps on the horizon.
The first to make a big splash has been the audio-only Clubhouse, which Vogue called “the new FOMO-inducing social app to know”.
You can think of Clubhouse as a real-time version of a podcast. Nothing is recorded, and there’s nothing you can do in the app other than listening to or joining in with the conversation.
Related: The Sound of Tomorrow: How Google and Amazon Battle for Access to Your Voice
The no-code revolution, automated bots, and the rise of audio are thre things that any business can take advantage of to increase efficiency, drive innovation, and build lasting relationships with end customers, clients, and consumers… all critical factors in scaling any business.