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Chatbots, blockchain to change business practice in 2017

Regina Pazvakavambwa
By Regina Pazvakavambwa, ITWeb portals journalist.
Johannesburg, 12 Jan 2017
In 2017, every business will need to start thinking of itself as a technology business, says Sage's Klaus-Michael Vogelberg.
In 2017, every business will need to start thinking of itself as a technology business, says Sage's Klaus-Michael Vogelberg.

Chatbots, collective intelligence and blockchain are some of the big technology trends that will change the way entrepreneurs run their businesses in 2017.

This is according to Klaus-Michael Vogelberg, CTO at Sage, who notes today's entrepreneur should be on the lookout for the opportunities technological developments can bring to their business. Vogelberg says autonomous interfaces such as chatbots or digital agents will become increasingly common on different devices and user interfaces which entrepreneurs can use to manage and control their businesses. These interfaces will dramatically change the way humans and computers work and interact with each other.

Priority Software says companies will continue experimenting with chatbots to answer simple customer questions and requests but the future of customer service will be supported by messaging.

Vogelberg says artificial and collective intelligence is another major trend to look out for, even for smaller companies. "With mushrooming data volumes being generated by all sorts of sensors and devices on one hand and computer power and special analysis software and intelligent agents becoming increasingly affordable and powerful on the other, companies need to find ways to extract knowledge from today's wealth of big data."

"If small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) join forces and - while considering their corporate data protection policies and personal rights laws - share, for example, computer power and data with other companies in a structured and systematic manner, they could profit from this collaboration by receiving a better and larger data pool and superior data intelligence." Similar to crowdsourcing mechanisms, this enriched data pool would enable companies to better understand how customers behave, what they need, what to offer them and the business areas to invest in, says Vogelberg.

In addition, SMEs should be on the lookout for new possibilities that emerge with the realisation of the Internet of things. Multiple data streams originating from all sorts of sensors built into machines, cars, mobile and immobile goods, clothes or even human beings (for medical monitoring purposes) will result in a true treasure trove of data, thus creating all sorts of new services, says Sage. Small businesses should also carefully analyse if, and how, the new blockchain technology could impact their current business models, it adds.

Sage says in 2017 more and more SMEs will replace their standalone, on-site software systems with integrated, cloud-based software solutions that operate on global cloud platforms such as who are offering their users access to a wealth of business apps and integrated services. Moreover, companies will also benefit from mobile-app platforms such as the one operated by the Apple Mobility Partner Programme.

"In 2017, every business will need to start thinking of itself as a technology business. To stay competitive, they will need to grasp the opportunities that this development brings with it and change almost every aspect of today's more or less traditional ways of working." The good news is that this technology means that we believe that very soon, business administration could become completely invisible, as easy as messaging a friend, or even completely automated, as machines learn like humans. This will empower entrepreneurs to stay focused on building their businesses, driving growth in the economy and contributing to their communities, says Vogelberg.