by MarkLives (@marklives) What are the expectations for the marketing and advertising industry in 2018? We emailed a panel of key industry executives for their take on the macro environment, budgets, changes in messaging, movement in the industry and any consumer and communication trends they’ll be looking out for. Next up is Wynand Smit of INOVO.

Wynand Smit

Wynand SmitWith over 10 years of operational and strategic experience in the SA contact centre industry, Wynand Smit’s understanding of technology and its application to business has benefitted multiple organisations across a variety of industries. As CEO of contact centre solutions provider, INOVO (@InovoTelecom), he is passionate about using the contact centre as a platform to drive positive change in a business.

Which is worse: putting the cart before the horse, or closing the barn door after the horse is bolted? This mixed metaphor illustrates the place of tension we’re experiencing in business: staying ahead of competitors but not too far, all the while making sure that we’re not lagging behind for fear of embracing new trends and innovations. That’s why, when we’re talking about trends, we’re not looking at trends from a linear-timeline perspective.

Artificial intelligence gets its place in the spotlight

In business, artificial intelligence (AI) is contributing to many changes, from how data is used to drive processes to being the interactive “brains” behind some forms of chatbots. It’s far from taking over entirely from humans, but its applications are becoming more practical and used, especially in customer-support scenarios.

While fears still exist that leaving communication in the hands of AI could lead to miscommunication or deliberate mishandling, it may have uses that aren’t just business-to-customer.

AI-driven chatbots may be used internally in companies to communicate complex information to thousands of people, on new products, for example. Agents may simply use the chatbot to find out more information to relate to customers and answer queries, without having to refer the customer to a different department. This could be used instead of an extensive, costly training programme.

Security first

If you haven’t heard about many security issues in the news — hacking, data breaches — you’ve not been reading the news. Recently, an South African company leaked the personal details of 30m people, from contact details down to passwords. The damage this could potentially cause is enormous.

The first port of call in addressing this is to get rid of security questions as a form of identity verification. Those questions rely on data being stored so that identity may be verified by the responses. If you know enough about someone (as in the data leaked in the breach), you could effectively pose as that person and answer security questions successfully, gaining access to online profiles and accounts. Then you change the passwords, and those profiles become yours.

Voice authentication

Biometric means of identification are far more secure and provide verification faster. This means your customer won’t have to spend precious time on calls answering questions, but they can get right down to business as soon as the voice recognition software has confirmed who they are. That makes the customer experience that much slicker.

In the more-distant future, most likely beyond 2018, we could see the internet of things (IoT) being rolled out with practical applications and, to some degree, adoption of blockchain within businesses. Just to note, blockchain technology can provide identity verification between two people within seconds, as well as secure access to rendered documents, but it’s part of a larger trust economy that needs to be explored further before widespread adoption by companies will take place.

In effect, we can see the horse bolting, and we’re keeping up but must develop what we’re doing apace of business strategy and customer preferences — trends don’t drive us; we drive trends.

#BigQ2018 series


MarkLives logoLaunched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key advertising and marketing industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.

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