2018 will be a year of digital opportunity, but many New Zealand businesses are at risk of missing out. Richard Sandford identifies the big digital opportunities for 2018 and what could they mean for your business.
It’s set to be a shakeup of a year for Kiwi businesses. Amazon is speculated to arrive, the Internet of Things will move from hype to reality, and robots are getting smarter.
But although 2018 is touted to be a year of digital opportunity, only 33 percent of SME owners say they have a plan for how they’ll use tech to grow their business, according to data from social enterprise Digital Journey.*
Spark says that needs to change, and is urging Kiwi businesses to think about how they’ll use technology to gain an edge locally and globally this year.
Richard Sandford (pictured), Spark’s head of Business Customer and Marketing, says it’s a huge loss for businesses not to be embracing technology:
“We’re really well set up here in New Zealand. Our connectivity rivals some of the most developed countries in the world. With two new nationwide IoT networks on their way, and the rapid spread of 4.5G, it will only get better.
“We have every opportunity to lead, but we’re not doing that like we could.”
According to MBIE, New Zealand has $34 billion to gain if businesses made better use of the internet.
Sandford said New Zealand would see a great number of new opportunities this year: “Technology will bring new ways to save time and money, but also bring increased competition. We want New Zealand businesses to be well placed to take that head-on.”
So, what are the big digital opportunities for 2018 and what could they mean for your business?
Internet of Things (IoT)
This will be the year that IoT stops being a buzzword and becomes a reality. Spark is set to launch two new IoT networks in 2018, to cover more than 70 percent of the places Kiwis live and work. Businesses will have more IoT solutions available to them than ever before.
One of the big opportunities is in tracking important assets. Imagine being able to know, at a glance, where your equipment is and what it’s doing. There are loads of uses for IoT that lead to money and time saved.
Tesla’s 500,000 electric vehicles will hit roads around the world this year, including New Zealand. EVs are growing in popularity and business owners who use them stand to markedly reduce running costs, and transport carbon emissions by 80 percent.**
With the ability to deliver up to 3-5 times more speed and capacity than 4G from a single mobile tower, 4.5G is something to keep an eye on. Spark have built 37 sites around New Zealand. As more devices catch up to the technology, it will mean faster video streaming and better-quality video calling. It will also become easier to transfer large files when you’re out of the office, making it possible to work from more places.
Broadband that travels with you
This summer, around New Zealand, 100 people are using their home wireless broadband at their holiday spot. It’s something Spark is trialling at this stage. If it takes off, it will mean SME owners could more easily stay connected to their business while away from home. For some, this might mean spending more time at the bach, or even the campsite.
With Amazon.com recently opened in Australia, there’s every possibility it will continue to edge closer to New Zealand’s shores. For the 28 percent of SMEs who aren’t currently selling their products or services online,*** Amazon provides either an opportunity to get online, or a threat to the market share of businesses who decide not to evolve.
Robots and artificial intelligence
2018 is tipped to be the year artificial intelligence (AI) takes off and with it, the chat bot. This technology is able to intelligently adapt, learn and improve the way it talks with customers. As with humans, practice makes better. The result is that chat bots are getting more sophisticated and demand for them from businesses is growing.
* This data is pulled from 1500 SMEs who have participated in the Digital Journey Assessment tool, available athttps://assessment.spark.digitaljourney.nz/ or at digital journey.
*** This data is pulled from 7000 SMEs who have participated in the Digital Journey Assessment tool.