Kingdom Strollers started out of a condo in central Florida as a small family business in 2010. It is now a well-oiled, data machine, looking to implement business intelligence solutions next for features like up-selling opportunities on insurance, beverages and other add-ons and better visualization in forecasting inventory levels. Their investment in technology made them an industry leader in Orlando tourism.
SMB/SMEs have many start-up costs that are a priority. Investing in digital and business intelligence tools seems like something that can be developed later, yet delaying the launch of complementary technology can actually be the reason a business rapidly stagnates.
From a rented 6,700 square-foot space to a newly built, 16-000 square foot warehouse they can call their own, Kingdom Strollers can clearly see the return on investment from digitizing the business.
Kingdom Strollers, a stroller and crib rental company serving tourists and one of only a few Disney-preferred providers, has seen its revenue grow 40 percent year over year since working with Concepta on custom web development. This included adding abilities such as inventory tracking, online booking, delivery updates and travel agent referral tracking to its website.
The owner, Matthew Wilhite, knows the world of stroller rentals is not a glamorous one. The investment in technology made the company considerably more “attractive” though.
There is a lot of tracking involved with one simple order, from checking an inventory constantly in flux, to ensuring on-time delivery and knowing the exact stroller location drop-off. One major pain point for the company was constant updates to an order, all previously done through countless phone calls and changes to the master spreadsheet. Now, the order and update process is managed through the website—a win for the company and the customers.
Many small-to-medium size businesses struggle to update their processes as their business grows, not realizing that custom options for automation, insights and analytics are affordable. Kingdom Strollers prioritized the digital transformation of the business early.
Originally published January 6, 2017, updated Feb. 5, 2019.
Web developers are focusing on the customer this year.
There’s been a growing emphasis on the customer journey over the last few years, and 2019 will see more focus on providing a responsive, customized experience to every visitor.
To that end, the leading web development trends for 2019 are those that help developers engage visitors and provide personalized service.
Visitors won’t spend much time on a site if they can’t find what they need.
Simple, interactive design keeps users engaged and makes navigation straightforward.
One of the most common ways to add this functionality in 2019 is motion UI.
The trend includes both the concept of featuring simplified motion effects in web design and a specific tool for doing so.
Motion UI is a standalone Sass library for creating CSS transitions and animations.
It offers interactive motion effects that visually guide site visitors towards popular features. Developers like Motion UI for its customizable components and flexibility.
Adding effects is simple, so it’s an easy way to add interest to a site without throwing off development schedules.
Whether it’s done using Motion UI or another tool, dynamic visual effects are showing promise as a way to improve user engagement.
Expect wider adoption as developers explore its value in an enterprise context.
The line between mobile and home computing is so faint it’s practically invisible.
Consumers own just under 4 connected devices each (including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices) and switch between them regularly during an average of 5.9 hours of daily media usage.
Companies who can provide consistent user experience regardless of how visitors reach their site will enjoy greater engagement and more return traffic.
It’s not enough for web design to be responsive anymore. Responsive design leads to awkward or unattractive sites on some devices.
Now design needs to be adaptive, able to rearrange itself to suit different device classes while providing a high-quality user experience for each.
This year, developers will explore optimized templates that translate content to a variety of device classes.
Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots
Artificial intelligence is everywhere. It’s already being used to improve search results, upsell products, power facial recognition programs on social media, and sort articles on sites like Wikipedia.
Now, it’s making a place in the customer service arena.
More than 40% of organizations worldwide plan to launch customer-facing artificial intelligence technology this year.
Chatbots are leading the charge. Within the next five years they’re set to become the most common AI application across all consumer applications.
Natural language processing (NLP) has matured enough that chatbots offer real value instead of frustrating customers.
In fact, over half of consumers like having the constant point of access to businesses chatbots provide.
Look for more chatbots, virtual agents, and NLP-based form filling tools throughout 2019.
Progressive Web Apps
Progressive web apps are still generating excitement in 2019.
Developers view them as a serious competitor for native apps, especially as more browsers support their full suite of features.
There are a lot of benefits to using PWAs. Development is often shorter and less costly. They offer excellent performance even on poor devices and in low signal areas.
Dropping below the three seconds most users wait before leaving a slow site helps lower bounce rates and increase time spent on-site.
PWA service workers provide limited offline functionality, which is a significant benefit with 70% of world economic growth over the next over next several years coming from emerging markets, that’s a significant advantage.
There are still some problems with browser compatibility, but those will fade away as browsers catch up to the latest W3c standards.
Some of these trends should grow in popularity as 2019 proceeds.
Artificial intelligence, for example, is making strides in proving its worth as an enterprise tool.
It would be hard to imagine anyone abandoning it right as it begins to realize its full potential.
Others aren’t as easy to predict. Motion UI may be exciting, but there aren’t any numbers on its practical impact yet.
For now, these are all solid tools for developers looking to boost performance and improve the customer experience.
Questions? Concepta’s team stays up to date on the latest web development trends. Drop us a line to talk about which ones are best for your next project!
Originally published January 23, 2018, updated January 29, 2019.
Mobile development is one of the most innovative and fastest growing sectors of the tech industry.
The average American spends over three hours a day on their smartphones (not including calls) and companies are pushing to gain a share of that time.
As mobile continues to work its way into daily life, the technologies rising to the top are ones that make that constant usage easier and more enjoyable.
It should come as no surprise that practicality, good user experiences, and convenience are the keys to winning public support in 2019.
Consumers expect their smartphones to do more than take calls and check email. They want more connectivity with the world around them, and they want that connection to be as safe as it is convenient.
To that end, here are the trends driving mobile developers in 2019:
1. Mobile Application Security
Users share more personal data with apps than ever before.
Mobile wallets have banking information, social media and habit trackers store details about personality and routines, and navigation apps keep records of everywhere a user goes.
At the same time, there’s enormous pressure to put apps out fast enough to keep up with consumer demand. Data breaches can be caused when companies rush development – and the risks are only rising.
The average cost of a breach was $3.62 million in 2017. Last year saw a 6.4% increase to $3.86 million.
In 2018 experts began tracking so-called “mega breaches”. These are cases where between 1-50 million records are breached, and they’re becoming more common as the Internet of Things (IoT) makes more user data available.
Alarmingly, 10 out of 11 of this type of breach are caused by malicious actors as opposed to technical errors. That shifts the focus from passively securing connections to actively preventing criminal intrusions.
In 2019, look for developers to emphasize security from the beginning of projects, with encryption throughout and automated testing at regular intervals. Artificial intelligence will also be on the rise for mobile security applications.
2. 5G Wireless Connectivity
2019 will bring the first major wave of 5G phones and wireless networks to urban areas. AT&T, which switched on their 5G wireless network in 12 cities last year, will add at least 7 more during 2019.
Sprint announced a 9-city 5G presence in the first half of the year with potential for wider coverage depending on how fast they can build out their infrastructure.
There were some test programs and small-scale rollouts from Verizon and AT&T last year, but without the right devices to handle it those haven’t done much more than raise excitement.
Now Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, OnePlus, and LG have all announced 5g-ready smartphones to be released this year.
Why is 5G so exciting? For one thing, it’s fast. 5G is at least 10 times faster than 4G.
Users will be able to download movies and apps in seconds rather than minutes, and streaming mobile video will be as fluid as watching at home. C
arriers are warning that it’s only a little faster than 4G outside cities, but it’s still a major improvement considering how well it handles high-resolution media.
Latency is another major draw. 5G’s incredibly low latency- under one millisecond- will let multiple devices communicate quickly enough to respond to the real world.
Experts are primarily thinking of self-driving cars and drones, but the technology will also take mobile gaming to a whole new level of user experience.
5G is about more than smartphones, though. The technology is part of an overall shift towards improving the wireless infrastructure to support the growing Internet of Things.
5G could mean major advances for smart cars, self-driving vehicles, smart homes, Augmented Reality devices, wearables, and other mobile connected devices.
3. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
AMP is a set of protocols focused around HTML, JS, and a Google Cache that boosts the performance of mobile pages.
AMP-compliant pages load twice as fast as normal pages and perform well across a variety of devices and signal ranges.
With their higher availability and faster loading times, pages that use AMP have lower bounce rates and longer average session times.
Users also find AMP pages easier since Google places them in a special carousel at the top of search results.
That’s very tempting for companies looking to increase their site traffic (and who isn’t?).
There are some functionality limitations to AMP, but for basic pages those limits are outweighed by the speed and SEO preference.
Look for companies to continuing moving some of their customer-facing content to AMP throughout 2019.
4. Instant Apps
The barrier to adoption for a lot of apps is the download requirement.
People only have so much memory on their smartphones, and they hesitate to download apps that could just sit unused on their phones.
That’s not an unrealistic fear: only 20% of apps are opened again after the first use.
Surveys show that 75% of consumers feel more comfortable using apps with helpful reviews or screenshots, but Instant Apps take that a step farther.
Users can access them directly from the Google Play store without downloading.
Companies don’t need to build separate instant apps to take advantage of the trend, either.
Since they’re effectively features of an existing app (for example, the map section of a store app) which are used independently via a website, they use the same APIs and source code.
Developers only need to update their existing apps for Instant App functionality.
Instant apps offer some enticing benefits:
- Instant apps open in seconds while the supporting website loads behind, giving the customer-facing impression of instant access.
- Consumers can use just the feature they need or test-drive apps before downloading them.
- Businesses can offload more functions (returns, coupons, and the like) to their app since customers can access them without having to go through the download process first.
- Instant apps can be shared via links, which friends can view without downloading anything.
Early adopters have seen significant increases in full app downloads and engagement.
Updating for Instant App compatibility can take as little as a single day.
Instant Apps have become available on over 500 million devices worldwide since launching.
With satisfied customers including Vimeo, The New York Times, and the Wal-Mart owned shopping service Jet, it’s a sure bet that they will continue to rise in popularity.
5. Mobile Payments
Digital payment options are seeing a slow but steady transition to the real world. 2.1 billion consumers worldwide will use mobile wallets to make payments in 2019, a 30% increase from 2017.
Mobile payment has already become commonplace in China and India, where some stores accept nothing else.
Outside those markets mobile payments have been slower to grow, though they’re still gaining ground. In 2018 20% of Americans were using mobile wallets and payment options.
Experts predict that number to rise nearly 40% over the next year as mobile security improves enough to lend consumers confidence in the technology.
The leading general-purpose mobile payment systems in America are Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. At least half of US retailers accept these, which makes it easier for consumers to leave their wallets at home.
Look for more brick and mortar businesses to begin accepting mobile payments. There’s also a trend towards loyalty programs with integrated mobile wallets that bears watching.
The Starbucks app’s mobile payment option saw over a million more users than Apple Pay in 2018, and over twice the number of Google Pay users. It will be interesting to see how this develops in 2019.
6. Mobile AI
Mobile AI is being fueled by edge computing and the rising demand for on-device processing.
A variety of mobile applications which were once unreliable are now maturing into enterprise readiness.
- Conversational interfaces have improved along with advances in Natural Language Processing. Chatbots are leading the pack. In fact, 80% of businesses plan to release some kind of chatbot by 2020. Expect to see more chatbots and personal assistant AIs this year (especially on social media).
- Recommendation engines are the power behind upsells at online checklists, but they’re also used in evolving applications like smart travel planners and health care apps.
- Enterprise AI is a core component of digital transformation. Insights gained through enterprise analytics and predictive marketing will continue driving business in 2019 and beyond.
7. Wearable Devices
Technology has become a constant, reliable presence in daily life, and nowhere is that more obvious than with wearable devices. Users enjoy having increased control and persistent access to their data.
Most wearable devices on the market are smartwatches, with fitness trackers close behind. The category is broad, though.
New applications are constantly under development: wearable cameras, augmented or virtual reality headsets, and even smart clothing.
As a whole, the category is growing faster than predicted last year. It’s expanded from 84 million units in 2015 to an estimated 245 million units this year.
With companies like Apple offering products for a wide range of consumers and Google rumored to be working on a new wearable, this is definitely something to watch in 2019.
8. Augmented Reality apps
Although Augmented Reality has been tossed around for years, it’s coming into its own as a mainstream feature.
Both Google and Apple have released toolkits (Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit) that make it possible for more businesses to take advantage of AR features.
The enterprise applications of AR are as varied as businesses themselves. One exciting use-case is the IKEA Place App.
IKEA has 411 stores in 49 countries, but for many people visiting a showroom still requires a road trip and significant planning. Enter IKEA Place, an Augmented Reality application that displays furniture at scale over a live camera image.
Users can then see how catalogue items will look in their home and whether larger furniture will fit. AR is seeing a rise in usage in fields like healthcare, engineering, and real estate as well.
Industry analysts predict that the AR market will reach $108 billion in revenue by 2020.
9. Beacon Technology
Beacon technology isn’t new. It’s been drifting around for a while in highly niche use cases, but it’s beginning to find its place as mobile technology becomes more advanced.
The idea of beacons is simple. A Bluetooth transmitter emits a signal visible only to compatible devices within a limited range. Smartphones with the right app can pick up that signal to receive timely, location-specific information.
Beacon locations are much more accurate than other locational data, which creates opportunities for more tailored interactions. Some examples:
- Unlocking a hotel room as the registered guest approaches their door
- Sending seat directions, game updates, and important alerts to fans within a sports stadium
- Alerting loyalty club members passing a store of current sales
Since the technology has been around, what will expand in 2019 is the number of beacon-oriented apps for smartphones, wearables, and other connected devices.
Best Mobile App Development Company in Orlando
Concepta maintains their position as one of Orlando’s best mobile development agencies by creating dynamic technology solutions for modern business challenges.
Right now, that means staying on top of mobile trends.
Mobile development is one of the biggest enterprise priorities of 2019.
Companies need to be where customers are, when customers need them, and that means going mobile.
With that in mind, Concepta recommends investing in a right-sized mobile presence.
It takes some planning, but sound mobile development is a solid path to winning new customers and improving the overall customer experience.
In the long run, that’s a competitive edge that pays off.
Interested in how these trends can help grow your business in 2019? Get a free consultation with Concepta’s experienced developers to explore your options!
Artificial intelligence isn’t science fiction anymore. It’s an enterprise reality, and there are several market-ready ways for small to medium businesses to get started.
There’s a common misperception that advanced technologies like artificial intelligence are only an option for huge, multinational companies.
Owners of small to medium businesses (SMBs) have to compete with those companies, but often feel AI is too expensive to invest in at their level.
In reality, though, there are solutions on the market that put AI within reach for every budget.
What Holds SMBs Back
61% of American SMBs think artificial intelligence is something only large companies should do. They think their business isn’t ready for the technology, or that it can’t offer them enough to justify the expense.
Most concerns fall into one of three categories:
Industry articles about high profile AI projects usually list six figure costs and talk about budget overruns and delays.
That can be off-putting to risk-averse SMBs, who don’t have the depth of working capital necessary to absorb a large technology project failure. A loss that might give a multinational company a bad quarter would threaten an SMB’s future.
Tying up working capital in an AI investment is also riskier for SMBs. They need solutions that reach ROI quickly and are affordable in the interim.
It’s hard for some to recognize the business value of AI. SMBs have to make every investment count; they don’t want to waste their limited operating budgets on a passing fad.
Those who do recognize the potential regard AI as overkill at the SMB level.
From the outside- even from the inside sometimes- AI looks unmanageably complicated. SMBs don’t have the time to train their teams on complex data science tools.
Sometimes it’s not even clear what tools to choose or where to start experimenting with AI.
Leveling the Playing Field
Hesitations aside, artificial intelligence has incredible transformative potential for SMBs. When resources are limited, it makes every cent and labor hour count.
Data driven insights help identify issues before they have a major negative impact and spot opportunities early enough to take action. As the company grows AI lays the foundation for smooth operation at scale.
In other words, AI lets SMBs operate with the same level of agility and situational awareness as their larger competitors.
Right-sized AI Tools
It doesn’t take a multimillion-dollar investment to reap the rewards of AI. There are plenty of enterprise tools on the market that integrate artificial intelligence.
SMBs can start with these off-the-shelf solutions and build on their successes.
The leap from understanding AI’s potential to actually using it in a business context is a surprisingly short one.
Here are the easiest ways for small to medium businesses to begin taking advantage of artificial intelligence.
Boost internal efficiency with Intelligent Assistants.
Using intelligent assistants is a low-risk first step to AI adoption. It’s highly likely that SMBs already have access to some IAs even if they don’t recognize them as such.
Siri, Cortana, Amazon Echo, and Google Assistant are all intelligent assistants.
To get the most use out of the assistant, try integrating more of its features. Every IA is different, but their strengths usually include:
- Maintaining unified calendars and scheduling programs
- Efficient planning (for trips, meetings, deliveries, and other business activities)
- Voice-activated data searches
Better customer insights and marketing with Smart CRM Systems.
Intelligent CRM tools (like Smartforce’s Einstein AI) are a game-changer for SMBs. Now, companies can pull data from multiple sources to create a cohesive picture of their customer base.
Sales data, lead lists, social media, email interactions, and more are all combined to help find and keep the most valuable customers.
These applications guide marketing automation, too. Smart CRM systems provide the insight necessary for targeted email and text marketing.
When messages are sent to those most likely to be interested, open rates and conversions go up. It’s a low-effort way to drive sales.
Provide faster, more reliable customer service with Chatbots.
Chatbots are available all day, every day. They give customers a reliable point of contact without adding labor and free team members to handle unusual customer issues (or even move on to other high-value tasks).
Chatbots can feed data gathered from customer interactions into smart CRM systems, as well.
There aren’t any mature general-use chatbots, so this is a tool that needs to be built by a software developer. In spite of that, they’re more affordable than most people would guess.
An experienced developer can put a chatbot together relatively simply using platforms like Amazon AI.
Make timely, informed decisions with custom analytics dashboards.
Enterprise software often comes with embedded analytics for tracking data. The problem comes when companies are trying to juggle several tools that all have their own reporting systems.
Once SMBs reach this point, the next step is to have a custom analytics dashboard built.
A dashboard pulls data from multiple sources into one place to power data-driven decision making in real time.
The live feed provides a window into current and future operations. Instead of wading through pages of reports, leaders can spot opportunities for new promotions or possible problems in time to act quickly.
Getting Past the “AI Jitters”
At the end of the day, artificial intelligence has as much to offer small to medium businesses as it does for multinational corporations. It levels the playing field, letting SMBs operate like they have a team of analysts on staff.
Don’t be unnerved by AI. Treat it like any other business tool. Start with a small integration, learn what it can do and where the company’s needs lie, and move forward based on business goals.
Wondering how AI can help your business? Concepta offers free consultations to discuss where you’re going and how technology can get you there. Set up your appointment today!