6 Key Trends for Business and Technology Decision Makers in 2018

Paul Farrell, Vice President of Product Marketing

January 29, 2018

For business and IT professionals alike, 2018 brings with it the need for some calculated decision making when it comes to technology. As previous transformative technologies like customer relationship marketing (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and business intelligence (BI) reach maturity, emerging technologies now need to be accounted for. As global pressures increase, the next 12 months can make a huge difference for businesses’ fortunes moving forward.

Here are six technology trends businesses must account for in 2018.

CRM Takes a Back Seat to CX

As CRM reaches maturity, business and IT decision makers are realizing they need to take a more holistic approach to the customer experience (CX). In the coming years, companies need to be able to absorb technology that not only includes CRM, but omnichannel commerce and commerce marketing. Companies need a real 360-degree view of the customer, which goes beyond customer call notes and lead, opportunity and quote management. They will need solutions that help them manage their customers across all channels: sales force, store, B2B commerce(opens in new tab), B2C commerce, EDI, social and more.

AI/ML Will Become a Must in Every IT Strategy

While the hype around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) has reached unprecedented levels, the time has come where organizations must at the very least account for how they will one day use it. Whether they’re mapping out a two-year plan, five-year plan or further out, it’s going to require a foundational platform that allows for customization, is always on and always available.

These days, that means an open, cloud platform that allows the business to consume, and act upon, the insights delivered by AI/ML. Just as important, as AI finds new patterns and opportunities, organizations will need to be able to adjust their workflows – and fast. Their cloud platform doesn’t only need to be open, but easily customizable. Without customizable workflows, business will lose out on the value that AI brings. Businesses that wait to address the foundational platform will be delayed when the time comes to adopt AI.

New Insights Must Be Proactive and Intelligent

As Big Data continues to gain industry buzz, most companies are worried not about how to get more of it, but what to do with what they already have. Most firms are swimming in data but only use about a third of it. Worse, even fewer say they are good at translating the result of data and analytics into measurable business outcomes. It’s imperative for technology decision makers to focus on ways to make insights smarter and more forward looking. Rather than reading reports on what happened last month, business needs to be in step with what’s happening now. For example, when a discount is offered, the sales person needs to know the true impact on profitability. How many change orders, returns, late payments, etc. does the customer usually have for this type of order? Rather than find out that zero real profit has been made at the end the month, it would be far better for the sales person to know at the time of taking the order that no discount should be applied, and why.

Business intelligence(opens in new tab) systems based on data warehouses bolted on to the transactional system are already behind. The insights need to come directly from the core system. As different business units and employees upload more and more data, decision makers will have the most holistic view of their enterprises that they’ve ever had. Its cloud providers who will be able to view these constantly-expanding webs of transactions and operations across industries to provide rich, detailed insights to their clients with context for the intelligence at exactly the right time.

Everything Must be Global

The global economy is nothing new, but now companies of all sizes have access to global capacity and opportunity. We are at a stage where the world truly is smaller, and businesses must be able to take advantage – quickly. Already, today’s modern businesses no longer have employees, products and resources in the same facility; in many cases, they’re not even in the same country. Being able to take advantage of resources abroad, whether its talent, suppliers, manufacturing or products, is vital. Employees need to be able to view and optimize resources around the globe as easy as they could if they were all in the same site, city, state or country. At the same time, they should be able to handle the overhead of dealing with multi-legal entities, currencies, legislation, languages, etc. without increased administrative costs that wipe out the opportunity.

Amidst this opportunity comes new challenges, and not just with growth. For example, the coming year only promises to make it more complex with regulations like the GDPR in Europe. Businesses of all sizes must worry about international competition, but those that wish to truly operate internationally need systems that can operate and translate on a global scale. Multinational organizations need the cloud to keep their operations consistent across different currencies, languages, and regulations. Compliance is a significant concern as well as regulations evolve around the globe. According to McKinsey(opens in new tab), some businesses are spending up to $50 million to update customer databases to be GDPR compliant. It is vital that companies deploy systems that support global operations as easily as local.

New Technology Needs to Be Consumed in Weeks, Not Years

The old way of adopting technology, with lengthy, complicated project plans, months- to years-long delays and lengthy training and change management no longer meets the needs of modern business. With the current pace of change, people need to be able to take on new technology quickly and easily. If it takes you two to three years to react, you’re done as a business. That means business software must be ready and fit for purpose immediately and can be changed and personalized for the user, division, company and enterprise quickly and without impacting new releases from the software provider. The modern business should also choose solutions with extensive ecosystems of partners who are able to instantly provide value-added capabilities that enable them to take advantage of new opportunities.

Every Solution Should Be a Cloud Solution

As technologies like IoT, blockchain and AI become more mainstream, it’s critical to incorporate them into current and future technology planning decisions. Yet, without a stable cloud foundation, it will be very difficult to implement these new, cutting-edge capabilities. These technologies demand a system that: is always available, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; easy to change; easy to integrate; easy to consume; easy to use; has an extensive ecosystem; always accessible on any device, anytime and anywhere; always on the latest release. Finally, it needs to be able to scale with the needs of an emerging organization to that of a global enterprise without lengthy and costly re-implementations. In 2018, companies are realizing that the essential ingredient is a true cloud-based foundation that is both modern, flexible and proven.

Learn more about NetSuite’s Pathway to Success(opens in new tab) and catch up on our last 2018 Grow Series blog Family-owned Businesses, Divestitures and Innovators: NetSuite Customers Shine in 2017(opens in new tab).

NetSuite has packaged the experience gained from tens of thousands of worldwide deployments over two decades into a set of leading practices that pave a clear path to success and are proven to deliver rapid business value. With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there's continuity from sales to services to support.