As innovations continue to revolutionize the field information and communications technology (ICT), consumer behavior is also witnessing a phenomenal change as people strive to align their shopping behavior with emerging technological opportunities. Organizations are also using ICT to improve how they do business, including how they relate with customers. Evidence shows that technological advancements such as automation can help businesses to do more with fewer resources. As a result, companies that are quick to adopt new technologies are more likely to record better results. Conversely, business entities that are slow to change face the threat of becoming inefficient and uncompetitive. Advancements in technology enable companies to accomplish tasks that were in the past considered impossible and to create new value systems that offer new insights how to manage relationships with critical stakeholders such as customers, employees, the government, and competitors. ICT products such as artificial intelligence (AI), mobile technology, robotization, big data, and cloud computing have become the core focus of business innovation, and they are mainly used to influence consumer behavior as well as to build productive two-way relationships.
ICT Factors that Shape the New Consumer
Due to advancements in computing technologies and Internet services, ICT has become a ubiquitous resource that is driving business innovations that are capable of gaining acceptance among consumers. Admittedly, technological instruments that fail to excite customers have a short lifespan since they cannot break into the mainstream market. As a result, companies invest heavily in research and design (R&D) to develop ICT products that match the expectations of consumers. However, the need to undertake detailed R&D proves that innovativeness is the overarching ICT factor that is used to shape the behavior of the new consumer. Through innovation, companies can undertake constant improvement, while at the same time developing technology instruments that promote the dual interests of the organization and the consumer. For this reason, insight into ICT tools such as mobile technology, AI, robotization, big data, and cloud computing can revel varying factors that shape the modern consumer.
Portability, ease of use, continuous connectivity, and compatibility are the leading ICT elements that are accelerating the uptake of mobile technology by contemporary consumers. Empirical studies in various countries have established that modern consumers cannot survive without mobile phones (Amoroso & Ackaradejruangsri, 2016). As a result, key factors that encourage the adoption of mobile phones are often exploited by businesses to manipulate the attitudes of consumers towards specific companies or products. For instance, connectivity through smartphones allows companies to interact with customers, thus increasing the possibility of triggering a purchase decision or establishing a long-term relationship. What is more, companies are increasingly using mobile platforms such as social media applications to improve the quality of customer service. Besides enabling businesses to communicate instantaneously, mobile technology also allows companies to give consumers what they want, where they want it, and how they want it. In particular, mobile phones increase the speed of interactivity, and the integration of online environments such as e-commerce has a positive impact on building strong, effective relationships. As a result, opportunities such as portability and connectivity reinforce the relationship between the customer and the company by improving interactivity and the quality of services.
The primary objective of AI is to improve the quality of customer experiences. According to Hopkinson, Perez-Vega, and Singhal (2018), AI tries to build automated systems that serve customers by performing roles that would otherwise require human intelligence. In doing so, these tools allow consumers to undertake their transactions in environments that are devoid of unnecessary human interaction or monitoring. Therefore, companies that use AI efficiently can promote their brands by empowering consumers and providing the services that are customized to their needs. For example, some organizations manage customer relationships by using AI to implement programmatic advertising that is tailored to the behavioral patterns of consumers (Hopkinson, Perez-Vega, and Singhal, 2018). Automated services that handle inquiries also help businesses to serve their customers in real-time. AI also builds productive relationships with consumers through predictive capacities that can understand the concerns of specific customers. Accordingly, AI is a sophisticated medium that allows organizations to shape consumer behavior and to manage relationships by using technologies that align their products or services to the behavior or expectations of modern-day customers.
Robotization gives organizations multiple benefits that are in turn used to generate advantages that build positive experiences for contemporary customers. For instance, robots are faster and efficient than most humans (Wilburn & Wilburn, 2018). Besides being affordable, they can also work tirelessly for 24 hours. Other consumers also find robotization less invasive and may prefer to maintain relationships with organizations that use robots in their operations. However, the area of robotization remains controversial and underdeveloped. Even though they can enhance efficiency and help organizations to build resourceful relationships, attitudes towards robotization are extremely divided, and some modern consumers are anxious or skeptical about the abilities of robots (Lufti, 2012). As a result, the impact of robotization on consumer behavior remains unclear since self-reported experiences are prone to biases.
Big data allows companies to collect vast amounts of information that enable them to manage relationships with new consumers. In particular, this function will allow businesses to predict behavior and to make well-informed decisions. As a result, customers are more likely to gain higher levels of utility from organizations that use big data. For example, hospitals that use big data analytics can examine large amounts of data within a short time to provide clients precise diagnoses and prescriptions. As a result, consumers tend to build strong and trustworthy relationships with organizations that use big data analytics since their services are faster and effective.
Cloud computing is considered as the technology of the future that gives companies and consumers several operational advantages. Using the services of cloud computing providers reduces ICT costs on the part of companies and helps consumers to interact with businesses through virtual offices. These platforms simplify communication channels and enhance collaborative ability between organizations and customers. Acquisition of cloud computing is rising rapidly among contemporary consumers who are looking for flexible online solutions that are cheap and easy to use. However, its uptake is still hampered by fears of security and reliability Balco, Law, & Drahošová, 2017). Notwithstanding, this technology allows businesses to deploy applications that increase customer satisfaction by integrating data analytics tools and other add-on features that create more appealing solutions.
Contemporary Consumers and How their Behavior is affected by ICT
ICT has transformed the behavior of modern consumers entirely from the traditional style of transactional marketing to relationship building. Due to increased access to information and higher levels of connectivity, consumers are now attracted to businesses that are willing to develop positive two-way relationships that are personalized and primarily not motivated by the actual purchase decision. For this reason, businesses have responded by investing in ICT systems that can enable them to relate with modern consumers whose expectations have broadened beyond buying. More so, companies are interested in collecting information that can assist in building meaningful interactions through mobile devices and other ICT tools. Wilburn and Wilburn (2018) suggest that ICT tools such as AI, big data analytics, and robotics provide companies with instant and detailed information about current and prospective customers. In doing so, businesses use the data they collect to improve customer acquisition, engagement, satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. Accordingly, ICT has amplified the expectations of consumers and businesses must respond by developing systems that meet the rising needs of their target customers.
ICT has also empowered consumers by creating direct two-way communication links between the customer and the company. Nowadays, consumers can engage companies directly through online platforms such as social media, websites, emails, among many other digital instruments. As a result, modern customers are more likely to demand accountability and to ask diverse questions such as why they should buy a specific product. As already divulged, cloud computing is the best ICT tool that provides flexibilities that enhance communication between the consumer and the organization or business. The technology ecosystem provided by cloud computing allows companies to share limitless information at low cost, whereas consumers can make inquiries about any topic from their smartphones. As a result, ICT is a smart experience that gives the new customer the power to interact with the company directly, to demand accountability, and to inquire about any issue that is of interest.
How Companies can Respond to the New Consumer and the New World
Constant improvement of existing ICT infrastructure is the best strategy that can help companies to build productive relationships with contemporary customers as well as to solve challenges that are associated with the new world. Persistent changes characterize the field of technology, and any organization that fails to align its practices with emerging innovations will not survive, especially a business world that is very competitive. One way that companies can achieve a constant improvement is by increasing investments in the piloting of ICT proposals. Part of the reason why customers are reluctant to adopt new technologies is that businesses fail to undertake extensive trials that can identify the weaknesses of proposed ICT instruments to make viable improvements. The second solution is to involve customers in R&D and other critical managerial functions such as decision-making. There is no doubt that the participation of customers can help the organization to make informed ICT decisions that are capable of improving the relationship between consumers and companies.
ICT is a valuable resource that is responsible for transforming the behavior of modern consumers from past transaction based traditions to current relationship building practices. Unlike in the past where the primary objective of the company was to make a successful sale, now businesses have to invest in tools that address diverse concerns of the customer. For instance, mobile technology has increased the levels of connectivity and interactivity. In doing so, customers are more, and their expectations go beyond the motivation of making a purchase. Luckily, ICT tools such as cloud computing and big data analytics enable companies to build systems that can identify, attract, engage, satisfy, and retain customers. Going forward, organizations must invest in continuous improvement to ensure that their ICT practices up-to-date and capable of building sustainable two-way relationships.
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