Since the financial crisis of 2008, the business world has seen dramatic changes. Today, businesses have to cope with an entirely new set of challenges, including a new labor force, the need to innovate, and mounting pressure to become more tech-focused.
In an effort to keep up with these changes, the role of the finance department in organizations of all types and sizes has also shifted. Gone are the days when employees working in finance could confine themselves to the back office, generating financial reports and worrying about quarterly budgets. Now, finance professionals find themselves integrated with a range of other departments. Rather than just crunching numbers, those in accounting and finance must also take part in guiding company strategy -- and that means taking a more active role than ever.
In the second part of our blog series on company finance in 2019, we’ll look at how customer demand is changing, along with how your finance team can adapt to these changes and generate new opportunities for your organization.
Changing Customer Demands
In 2019, customer expectations are at an all-time high. Millennials and members of Generation Z are tech savvy, opinionated, and discerning consumers. Businesses have to keep up with these customers’ demands in order to stay competitive.
A New Mix of Products
These young, tech savvy consumers aren’t just buying products: they’re also renting them, sharing them, and streaming them. Businesses now need to offer a correspondingly diverse product mix, including:
- On-demand services: The on-demand industry of streaming movies and other on-demand services is expected to break $57 billion in 2019.
- Sharing: Now more than ever, customers are ‘sharing’ products rather than purchasing them. Airbnb is a leading example of this trend.
- Subscriptions: The subscription model, wherein customers subscribe to an ongoing service that caters to their unique tastes, is trending in 2019 and expected to continue growing.
- Anything as a Service (XaaS): It’s not just physical products that fit the subscription model: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) are growing, too.
Customers with a Conscience
Millennial and Gen Z consumers are socially conscious, and they expect the companies they shop with to take an active role when it comes to social and environmental causes. As a result, major companies are devoting considerable resources to prioritizing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Mobile Payment Options
Since the introduction of Apple Pay in 2015, the number of consumers using contactless payment has skyrocketed from 20 million to more than 150 million in 2017. By 2021, global contactless payments are projected to hit $2 trillion.
Rather than going through traditional channels, companies are cutting out the middleman and marketing directly to consumers. This involves the extra work of building relationships with customers -- but the upshot is an improvement in margins.
In order to compete with the ultra-low prices of companies like Amazon, retailers are having to add value to their offerings. This can include new products, improved customer service, and a bespoke customer experience.
What to Look for in a Tech Partner
In order to meet these changing customer demands, many businesses are looking to tech partners with the right knowledge and experience. If you’re considering partnering with a company that offers ERP solutions, tech services, and other assistance, be sure to look for the following:
- Customer behavior insights: Choose a company that’s familiar with tracking consumer buying behavior, and that can help your business incorporate this knowledge into your ERP system.
- Agile solutions: Go with a company who can offer dynamic, agile, lean solutions for your business. By improving communication and visibility throughout your organization, you can better respond to changing customer demands.
- Customer service improvements: More than ever before, customer service is paramount. Choose a tech solutions provider that can help your business improve customer experience and offer the best in customer service.
Want to learn more about financial trends in 2019? Keep an eye out for the next installment in this blog series, and
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