Four Technology Trends That Will Impact Your Sales and Marketing

Given the push by many companies toward digital transformation, few should be surprised by what’s coming next. Enterprises are gathering as much data as possible regarding business, consumer, and personal activities.  Many are wondering how they can capitalize on this and the more intimate portrait of their customers that it generates. From C-level executives looking to improve organizational efficiency to greedy cybercriminals seeking to wreak havoc, finding different ways to access and use this information has resulted in four very interesting trends.

Reactive Technology Trends

Newton pointed out that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. As technology moves forward, we will always be bounded by cause and effect. With point-of-sale, wearable, and handheld devices capturing potential customers’ moment-by-moment activities, the opportunity to learn from the data generated and influence a sale is enhanced. The risk of unsavory characters misusing this data also increases.

The reactive trends to digital transformation that we see now include:

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
  2. Robotic Process Automation
  3. Edge Computing
  4. Cyber Security

AI and ML Will Help You Sense the Customer’s Intent

AI helps businesses consume large volumes of information quickly and effectively, deriving relationships between data sets as if they were being analyzed by a human brain. ML is an application of AI that enables systems to learn and improve through experience rather than programming.

Together, with real-time processing and predictive analytics, AI and ML will enable employees at the front lines to sense a customer’s intent and know the next right thing to say or do…in real time. This ability will alter their relationship with the customer, often modifying their role to that of an advisor or consultant. Consider the case where a customer previously ordered an item in quantity over time and had shipped to multiple locations. The order processor doesn’t have time to look up every transaction. However, your intelligent system already sees the correlation and suggests that, if all the orders were placed now, a discount would apply. It may even recommend customer-specific upsell opportunities based on machine-learned preferences.

AI and ML will improve customer engagement by using data to anticipate needs better and faster. Used together, they can help you streamline the Buyer’s Journey and close leads quicker. (For information on applications of this trend, PEGA offers an interesting data sheet.  Demand Gen Report also provides information on how creating relevant, contextual buyer experiences is a priority for B2B brands.)

 Robotic Process Automation Augments Productivity

A natural extension of AI and ML is an emerging form of business process automation, Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Businesses have known for a while that automating processes helps save money and improves the efficiency of an organization. Companies are now also realizing that automation can result in reducing human error and ensuring compliance to business rules and regulations.

These software robots automate specific rule-based activities, assisting and off-loading tasks for employees rather than taking over their jobs. The bots focus on repetitive sequences that can be learned by watching an employee perform the task in the application’s graphical user interface. In a sense, the human employee “trains” the RPA service. Using machine learning, these bots interact with the service personnel at the front lines, identifying gaps and opportunities for product discounts and bundles. A recent Forbes article,  How RPA Is Changing The Way We Work explains how RPA can assist in marketing and sales as well as help to protect customer data being acquired.

Edge Computing Powers AI, Machine Learning, and Process Automation

In order to enable the decision-making processes of AI, machine learning, and systems automation, data analysis must be done in real time. Latency impedes its success. The problem is that not all data captured is pertinent to every decision. Sending everything to a backend system for analysis introduces latency that could prove catastrophic.

This is where intelligent edge computing comes in. Analytics at the point of transaction (a customer interaction or a data sensor) assists in sorting through the data immediately, determining specifically what is required for a decision to be made. Edge computing is particularly useful in Internet of Things (IoT) environments where billions of edge devices generate massive amounts of data that need to be processed quickly, ensuring scalability, safety, and compliance. Moving the analysis to the edge provides for faster and better insights.

Clearly, in cases such as transportation control and healthcare, the need for split-second decisions is vital. But advanced video monitoring edge applications, which can send alerts and notifications to smart phones and other devices, are also starting to be seen. From a marketing perspective, edge analytics can be used to promote products to in-store customers based on already understood buying habits.

Protecting Your Customer and Business with Cyber Security

While digital transformation can make everyone’s lives more convenient and streamline the Buyer’s Journey, unfortunately there are some who view digital data an opportunity for malicious behavior. A growing concern over security and consumer privacy has prompted governments to take steps to regulate what and how data may be obtained, including Europe’s recent implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Regulations like GDPR will force marketers to analyze their lead generation processes to ensure compliance and avoid penalties. We are already seeing advances in lead-generation tools that assist in flagging personal data items and offer options to request explicit consent for data to be shared. Products like LeadSeed from Conservit are incorporating new features to reshape the way in which personal data is handled in order to meet these requirements.

Why Porter Consulting

A lot of what we are seeing today points toward a metamorphosis of roles at the point of customer interaction, moving from a transactional focus to one of added value and service to customers. With our technology leadership expertise, consultants at Porter Consulting can help you uncover opportunities offered by these technology trends, enabling you to offer more value to customers. If you’d like to explore opportunities working with Porter Consulting to achieve greater business success, send us an email at

Dale Rensing has been helping customers envision the benefits of technology, from local area networks to cloud technologies and IoT for over 25 years.  You can find more blogs and content from Dale at  Porter Consulting is a marketing services consulting company who can you help you grow revenue.

Photo credit: Kami Phuc on Visual hunt / CC BY

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