How digital technologies are helping businesses reach international markets
The use of digital technologies can dramatically impact the success of a business. Technologies that help with managing productivity, inventory, financial accounting and CRM, all contribute to optimising a business’ operations. It is inevitable to draw attention to the fact that the pandemic has forced a hasty increase in adoption of tech solutions, but it really has.
In a bid to keep people connected and companies operating during safety restrictions, proactive business models were required, processes and supply chains were remodelled.
The gains of utilising advanced technology were not just business continuation, but also reaching new markets, opening up global supply chains, and creating new products and services.
People were discovering more choice, but also finding it easier to shop, access services, learn and connect with others.
United Nations trade data (NTCAD, 2021) show that digital deliverable services increased from around 52% in 2019, to 64% in 2020, with ICT services growing from 10% to 14% in the same period. Trillions of pounds are being invested into ‘digital transformation’ to help further benefit from this new worldwide digital economy.
Both communication and data are now flowing with ease internationally, allowing digital trading of goods and services which are either physical or digital.
So, how is this being achieved? What technology is being used?
The latest Trade Tech report highlighted IoT, digital payments and services, e-commerce, Cloud computing, 5G and AI, as top technologies having impact on the trade ecosystem the fastest.
Artificial intelligence is used to automate the more routine and information-based functions, as well as speed up supply chains (particularly at the consumer end) to support product and service development.
Warehouse management and demand forecasting are just two key areas where AI can quickly discover patterns, to accelerate performance and logistics.
Autonomous robots, drones, etc have assisted the need for contactless delivery, reduced human error and increased safety. Amazon’s mega-warehouse in Delaware, has around 10,000 robots, which outnumber the humans working there, ten to 1.
New autonomous robots were introduced last year to help reduce strenuous movements for workers, helping them to focus on tasks that needed most attention, whilst minimising potential for injury.
Many companies utilise chatbots, mimicking human conversation, to assist with marketing, customer support and even sales transactions.
The popularity is increasing with around 88% of customers having had at least one conversation with a chatbot last year.
IoT. A network of distributed devices, sensors, and software that connect to the internet to collect and share information globally. An IoT platform can deliver continuous, almost instantaneous feedback, transforming industries such as automotive, healthcare, manufacturing, through to transportation. Solving problems relating to monitoring stock conditions, security and asset tracking, has allowed for much better decision making.
Autonomous commercial transport which has been debated for many years, is now looking like a reality with more trials of HGV platoons and safety testing taking place.
In fact, the Secure Connected Transport Challenge, funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has been set up by the government and industry to help move the UK to a connected vehicle future.
To assist with the surge in digital payments, methods like blockchain have been adopted to manage and monitor them. Blockchain is a decentralised digital ledger that tracks transactions and assets across computer networks, due to its nature there is no single point of failure, making it harder to corrupt.
Which leads us onto the next frontier of digital growth – Quantum Computing.
Rapidly moving from science fiction to reality, this is one area that has tangible benefits across both business and humanity as a whole. From life sciences and medical research to weather simulation, and financial modelling – the positive disruption of quantum computing is clear and will no doubt be revolutionary.
However, we will be wielding a double-edged sword. With that level of computational power comes increased risk to digital transactions, data integrity and security in both the digital and physical world. Today’s gold standards of asymmetric, or public key encryption, become quickly breakable. As we become an ever more digitally integrated society, and technology such as NFTs, blockchain services, digital identities, and the connected Internet of Things becomes an everyday interaction, encryption methods need to be made more robust.
Consumers ultimately want to feel reassured that their personal data is protected when they are buying goods and services online. Businesses want to be able to protect themselves from cyber attacks and IP theft. The rapid pace of digital trade is enormous, but governments and authorities will need to maintain universal safeguarding standards and policies to help everyone prosper.
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