With Ireland’s economy set for continued growth in 2018, we look at the business trends and technologies that Irish organisations can’t afford to ignore in the year to come.
One phrase on the lips of every organisation that handles its customers’ data is The General Data Protection Regulation or (GDPR). This is a regulation set out by the European regulatory authorities that will be enforceable from May 25th, 2018.
All companies processing the personal data of data subjects residing in the European Union will require a greater amount of ‘clear and distinguishable’ consent from users before opting in to have their data stored by a company.
These subjects also have increased rights such as the right to be informed of a data breach within 72 hours, the right to access of their own personal data, the right to have their data erased (no longer held) by an organisation and more.
GDPR is of concern to businesses as violations can carry heavy penalties such as a fine of 2-4% of a company’s global revenue for serious breaches.
2. AI and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are revolutionising the very existence of workforces around the globe. While robotic workers have had a place in heavy manufacturing such as in the car industry for years, 2017 has seen a rise in automation across new industries such as advertising and reporting.
Tech-savvy business owners would do well to keep an eye on how quickly AI and machine learning trends are disrupting the global business landscape and ask themselves two questions:
Could my business capitalise on this trend? Could this trend disrupt my business to a point that there is no need for human workers?
Some industries are more susceptible than others to this change. As an experiment, the project sharing website Slack built ‘Will a Robot take my job?’ to allow workers and businesses to see how their jobs could be affected in the future. It’s not all bleak though, as research and advisory firm Gartner believe that AI will create 2.3 Million Jobs in 2020, while eliminating 1.8 million.
Where there’s profit, there’s an opportunity for fraudsters and in 2018, SME businesses and SOHOs in particular will need to stay vigilant to avoid exposure to sophisticated frauds.
One type of fraud that could be costly for anyone who does a lot of business by mobile phone is a fraud known as Wangari fraud. This is when a fraudster will dial a number of phones and hang up and leave a missed call which encourages the recipient to call back.
If the customer rings back they will be charged a premium rate per minute. Authorities warn that a missed call from a number starting with unfamiliar country codes such as +231 or +269 are usually an indicator that the calls are part of a scam.
Another pitfall to watch out for is unsecure payment portal pages when transacting with your company credit card online. Always look for the ‘Secure’ webpage symbol in the address bar of the page you are visiting before entering any details. This is a green padlock. Even with this in place, if you have suspicions about the validity of a website’s credentials do not enter your payment details.
4. Shortage of Premises
If 2018 was the year that you were planning to take your business out of a shared office space and into your own premises, it’s time to get moving. An expected influx of companies to Irish shores as a result of Brexit, coupled with the lack of commercial construction following the recession could lead to a scramble for office space, especially in Dublin. This could see commercial rents rise and price some smaller firms out of the market for now.
In the aftermath of the Brexit vote in 2016 a release from the research firm Future Analytics proposed that 14,000 new homes and 716,000 square metres of office space would be required at a cost of more than €3 billion to provide adequate workspaces and accommodation.
Search Engine Optimisation remains a vital trend which firms need to stay clued into to maintain their online visibility for the long term. Although some organisations can afford to run elaborate Google AdWords campaigns and run paid social media advertising campaigns, getting to grips with SEO is essentially, a free way to remain visible online and rank for relevant searches.
In a perfect world, your organisation would rank on the first page of Google for any searches that are relevant to your business, but, it takes a bit of work on your end to make that happen. Thankfully we’ve put together a free SEO eBook just for you.
6. Voice Search
Continuing with the rise of the machines, another emerging technology that doesn’t seem to be dissipating anytime soon is the use of voice search. Thanks to voice searches being carried out on platforms such as Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri and Cortana, voice searches are on the rise and becoming more conversational in nature.
Gartner predicts that 30% of web browsing sessions will be voice searches by 2020 while others outlets are saying the number could be closer to 50%.
What does this have to do with businesses? Organisations have a chance to feature in voice search results by optimising the content on their website to rank for longtail keywords.
It’s all to do with a type of mark-up called schema and doing your best to be chosen as the ‘featured snippet’ for a search term as these are usually given as the answer to a question on voice platforms like Google Assistant.
7. Digital Influencers on the Rise
It might sound like traditional marketing, but celebrity endorsements still do wonders for a product launch. Getting a TV or Film personality to give your product a ‘thumbs up’ may sound like an expensive marketing tactic that’s out of reach for the modest budgets of start-ups and SMEs, but new research has revealed that the return on investment generated by working with a digital-born influencer could be well worth your business’s while.
A digital influencer is someone whose fame grew via social channels such as Instagram or YouTube. The Age of Social Influence, a new report, from Centaur Media and Celebrity Intelligence has delved into the data to highlight the growing power of influencer marketing.
The research, which interviewed 270 marketing specialists that have worked on and implemented talent-led and talent endorsed campaigns, found that for every €1.13 spent on a talent-led campaign, brands are getting an average of €19.49 back.
To get started, all you have to do is reach out. For example, if you are a tech company, find a tech blogger to do an unboxing or demo of your new product in the hope that they will share it with their audience. There are strict rules in Ireland set out by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland that insist that social influencers must tell their followers when they are being paid to promote a product or service.