I recently came across a Forbes Article from contributor Ian Altman who is a strategic advisor, author and internationally sought keynote speaker on integrity-based sales and business development. Ian outlines the top business trends that will drive success in 2018 for your company. Below are the five I’m most excited about:
1. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE DRIVES CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE – “Leading companies are embracing AI to perform repeatable, redundant tasks and to process large amounts of data not to avoid human interaction, but to enrich it.”
Yes! In today’s age of “engagement automation” we will need to build trust and authenticity more than ever and AI will help us understand where and when to provide that. The trick is providing live face-to-face communication “at-scale” to match the automated text and voice communication that comes from Artificial Intelligence. More on the importance of live interaction below…
(P.S. I will be speaking on a panel, “Real AI for Real Sales” in San Francisco at the Sales 3.0 Conference on March 12-13. Additional featured speakers are Keith Krach, Nancy Nardin, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Alice Heiman, Elay Cohen and more.)
2. COMMUNITIES EMBRACE LIVE INTERACTIONS OVER SOCIAL MEDIA – “ …top companies realize that building great communities engenders long-term brand loyalty. Nothing drives strong communities better than in-person and live interactions.”
Bravo! Communities need the freedom to organically connect live, learn socially, and bond over shared experiences, just like they would at in-person events. It should be in every brand’s customer engagement strategy to provide an online forum that represents those in-person dynamics at internet scale. Social media is not going away anytime soon, and communities will continue to learn “on-demand”. The video that comes from those authentic interactions can be both a powerful social media and social learning content asset. More on social learning below….
3. SOCIAL LEARNING OUTPERFORMS REMOTE LEARNING – “Social-learning promotes autonomy and self-direction, increasing overall learner engagement. It can also be a welcome departure from online courses which can be lonely, isolated experiences that lack engagement. Learners do not feel the presence of other learners in the experience.”
As a professional who has built a career out of selling webinars, this one really hits home. Social Learning may be one of humankind’s oldest forms of learning but somehow hasn’t translated completely to webinars, which are predominately used for employee and customer engagement. Let’s face it, webinar technologies like Webex or GoToMeeting can actually make your audience feel more isolated and lonely. If we barely tolerate “death by powerpoint” why are we still stuck in an online version of it? Your online community is gravitating towards more engaging ways to learn. As they start to experience social learning online, it’s the face-to-face interactions with experts and peers they will seek more than your ppt slide deck.
I hate to say it, but it is finally time to say “Death to Webinars”?
4. LIVE STREAMING VIDEO CONTENT GAINS MOMENTUM – “Customers demand real connections, with real people. Live video has the ability to give many businesses a face AND a soul.”
Amen! Live video is a critical component to connect to today’s online audience because that is the way they want to engage. Even as we aim to personalize content to the right audience at the right time, your customers and employees are still seeking “real connections, with real people” in their “critical moments of truth” with your brand.
5. SERVE YOUR COMMUNITY NOT JUST BUYERS – Analyst Jon Reed writes marketers also “should be thinking in terms of “buyer’s community” or “buyer’s network.” Reed notes that “buyers aren’t always buying but they are always learning” and “we shouldn’t only be targeting buyers.”
There you have it. As we begin to depend on a troop of “bots” or “intelligent agents” to personalize and distribute content aimed at advancing a buyer through a buying journey, our human effort will shift towards producing the brand trust and loyalty that will strengthen our entire online community, so that when they are ready, they will look to us as a trusted resource to solve their problem.
The businesses that will thrive in 2018 and beyond will be those that can balance personalized engagement from artificial intelligence with online platforms that deliver the community pillars of human-to-human, in-person event and social learning dynamics at internet scale.