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ModSquad’s 2017 Digital Predictions — How’d We Do?

As we close the books on 2017, let’s take a moment to reflect on what’s transpired over the last 12 months. Last January, we revealed our bold predictions for the digital space in the coming year. It’s time to revisit those sage divinations to determine whether or not we have a future in fortune telling.

1. AR and VR go mainstream.

A year ago, we wrote that this was finally the year that AR and VR broke through, no kidding, we mean it this time. And we were right… but only halfway. AR technology received a considerable boost from the release of Apple’s ARKit, which will make it easier for developers to create quality AR experiences, one of the reasons commonly cited for the tech’s slow growth. But as 2016’s Pokémon Go app revealed, the audience is ready and waiting. The release of Niantic’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite in 2018 may be the prompt this technology needs to really break through. As for VR, the future’s so bright, we’ve got to wear VR goggles, with a projected growth rate of 48.7% through 2021, creating a $38 billion industry by 2026. But for now, the conventional wisdom is that VR did not make the big breakout in 2017 that many people thought, and no one VR system has yet emerged as a clear frontrunner.

2. Live video will extend across all platforms.

From the total solar eclipse to the U.S. presidential inauguration, live streaming records were broken left and right in 2017. The ubiquitous use of live streaming brought both an immediacy and intimacy to events far and wide, with individuals using the tech to provide them a voice. It’s easy to see why the technology has become so commonplace, as it’s hard to miss the many, many platforms providing the service. You could live stream that video game you’re playing on Twitch while simultaneously catching a Q&A on YouTube live and running a relaxing stream from the beaches of Hawaii on Ustream. Then talk about everything you’ve done later on using Facebook Live. And that’s just scratching the surface.

3. AI will enhance, but not replace, human customer service.

With IBM predicting that 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent by 2020, it would be hard to argue AI’s place in the future of customer service. But as a recent Forrester report proclaims, rather than replacing humans in some Skynet-type scenario, AI will “enhance agents’ skills and allow them to focus their attention beyond routine tasks.” Bots and AI tools can’t replicate the human touch that customers so crave. Research from Salesforce shows that 92% of senior executives consider the customer experience to be a major competitive differentiator. These decision makers understand that great service is a vital factor in the overall customer experience, something that AI can’t quite achieve.

4. Customer support will become the new winning marketing strategy.

We’ve written about how Wendy’s social media feed is winning over potential customers day by day, and how other fast-food chains have jumped enthusiastically into social interactions. But it takes even more than quick-witted responses and snarky comments to prove yourself to consumers. That’s why companies like Amazon and Zappos have perfected the art of customer service; their reputations for providing sterling support have continued to boost their bottom line. And it can never hurt to get a heartwarming story of exceptional customer service out there in front of potential buyers.

5. Instagram will become a branding mainstay, rather than a nice-to-have.

With 800 million monthly active users, Instagram has become one of the most popular social networks, with 500 million of those users active on a daily basis, no doubt thanks to the company’s updates to their Stories feature. Why wouldn’t you want to put your brand in front of all those eyeballs? It offers an appealing visual storytelling format that appeals to advertisers and allows for immediate engagement and feedback from your followers.

As always, ModSquad is on top of the “now” and the “next” when it comes to the digital universe. We investigate and integrate new technologies on a regular basis, and are ready to provide strategic guidance and tactical support to any company seeking a partner in this space. We see the future, and we’re ready to jump in head-first.

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