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Digital trends that businesses can really embrace

Posted: 13th November 2018

By 20/20 Productions

New technologies have the potential to transform organisations for the better, but rapid changes bring with them the pressure to adapt and innovate.

Keeping up with the latest trends can be a challenge. There’s a temptation to shy away from changes in the digital sphere and stick to what’s working now. But failing to embrace change just leaves the field wide open for more adaptable competitors to swoop in and capitalise on new approaches.

That’s not to say that organisations need to embrace change for change’s sake. Understanding which trends have staying power and which are just short-lived crazes is a real skill. For those organisations that get it right, embracing new digital developments offers fantastic opportunities.

With that in mind, here are some of the most impactful digital trends that businesses across many industries are currently embracing.

Advanced social media

Despite numerous changes and new trends, social media platforms remain a powerful tool for businesses that know how to use them effectively.

The emphasis on ‘instant’ is set to continue, with the introduction of sophisticated chatbots, able to respond to customer questions across platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Research by Sonin indicates that just under 50% of customers would prefer to communicate by instant messaging than by phone. Customers want answers, and they want them fast. This is a key finding, and one that organisations with a significant customer-facing component should respond to.

Video is on the rise across all social platforms and it’s an ideal medium for companies who want to communicate key messages quickly and concisely. A huge 85% of video on Facebook is now watched without sound, so optimising clips for silent viewing is critical. Creating engaging content on platforms like Instagram Stories is also essential for companies taking advantage of sponsorship options – failing to connect with an audience in the first few seconds will result in them simply swiping to skip.

Machine learning

Companies are making continual adjustments to their platforms for a truly enhanced user experience. Not just confined to social media chatbots, new uses for machine learning technology will continue to be rolled out over the coming years.

Machine learning makes it as easy as possible for customers to use a company’s services – be that by automatically ordering regular food items, carrying out a phone call on their behalf, or even generating tailored medical advice.

Organisations that invest in machine learning will likely see results in the form of more efficient performance and improved customer satisfaction rates. However, companies that plan to use machine learning must stay weary of potential privacy issues and communicate their processes transparently to avoid a tarnished reputation.


Livestreaming is another key digital trend presenting new possibilities for businesses. Whilst Facebook and Instagram have both introduced this feature, social media is not the only area where live streaming is effective.

Half of the UK workforce is set to work remotely by 2020, according to research by OddsMonkey. With advances in cloud technology, teams no longer need to be in the same location. Remote working makes maintaining connections a real challenge however. Organisations are addressing that problem by livestreaming company-wide announcements and broadcasting events with key speakers to employees across the globe.

Whilst embracing live streaming technology makes sense for companies with an international or disparate workforce, there are potential pitfalls. A set-up that lacks professional quality or is glitchy can give a poor impression to employees – no one wants to work for an organisation that lacks credibility. Using a professional service is vital.


Organisations are starting to embrace the benefits that augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) offer. Companies can now offer transportive experiences that can make a lasting impression on their client-base.

At trade shows and events, for example, companies can use VR setups to show off large products or in-development products like cars, without having to transport them. Using AR technology, customers can do anything from virtually trying on different lipstick shades as Estée Lauder recently arranged, to trialling Ikea’s whole furniture catalogue without having to leave your home.

Businesses that use forward-thinking approaches like these stand to benefit – by creating a buzz around products through innovative use of technology, they’re instantly able to get buy-in.


Apps can be effective for a whole host of businesses – whether that’s for connecting internally, promoting a new service, or as the basis of the business itself. That said, it’s hard out there for apps, and the abandonment rate is high, 24% of users open an app just once before deleting it, according to research by Localytics.

The good news is that apps that emphasise a well-designed user experience and interface are favoured – they must be simple to use, intuitive and most importantly, offer a viable solution to a common problem. For example, my team developed an app for event organisers to check in guests with one click – a streamlined alternative to a needlessly complicated process.


The use of blockchain technology continues to push beyond the boundaries of the financial sector, with imaginative application expected to continue across several industries. With licensing, ticketing and education already experiencing a blockchain revolution, businesses should anticipate disruptions in their own industries. Getting to grips with blockchain has become a priority for business leaders, as well as considering how competitors might use the technology to get ahead.

The digital sphere is in constant flux, so much so that keeping up with the endless innovations can seem next to impossible. Whilst being aware of significant developments within the digital world is important, trying to adopt every new approach you come across is not necessary. Consider whether a particular technology or platform is right for your business, and only embrace those that make sense for you and your clients.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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