It’s set to be a shakeup of a year for Kiwi businesses.
Amazon is speculated to arrive, the Internet of Things will move from hype to reality, and robots are getting smarter.
But although 2018 is touted to be a year of digital opportunity, only 33% of SME owners say they have a plan for how they’ll use tech to grow their business, according to data from social enterprise Digital Journey.
Spark says that needs to change and is urging Kiwi businesses to think about how they’ll use technology to gain an edge locally and globally this year.
Spark business customer and marketing head Richard Sandford says it’s a loss for businesses not to be embracing technology.
“New Zealand's connectivity rivals some of the most developed countries in the world. With two new nationwide IoT networks on their way and the rapid spread of 4.5G, it will only get better.
"We have every opportunity to lead, but we’re not doing that like we could.”
According to MBIE, New Zealand has $34 billion to gain if businesses made better use of the Internet.
Sandford says New Zealand would see a number of new opportunities this year.
"Technology will bring new ways to save time and money, but also bring increased competition. We want New Zealand businesses to be well placed to take that head-on.”
Here are some of the key digital opportunities for 2018 and what could they mean for small businesses.
Internet of Things (IoT)
This will be the year that IoT stops being a buzzword and becomes a reality.
Two new IoT networks will be launched in 2018, covering more than 70% of the places Kiwis live and work.
Businesses will have more IoT solutions available to them than ever before.
One of the big opportunities is in tracking important assets.
IoT technology lets businesses know, at a glance, where their equipment is and what it's doing.
Electric vehicles (EVs)
Tesla’s 500,000 electric vehicles will hit roads around the world this year, including New Zealand.
EVs are growing in popularity and business owners who use them stand to markedly reduce running costs, and transport carbon emissions by 80%.
With Amazon.com recently opened in Australia, there’s every possibility it will continue to edge closer to New Zealand’s shores.
For the 28% of SMEs who aren’t currently selling their products or services online, Amazon provides either an opportunity to get online or a threat to the market share of businesses who decide not to evolve.
Robots and artificial intelligence
2018 is tipped to be the year artificial intelligence (AI) takes off and with it, the chatbot.
This technology is able to intelligently adapt, learn and improve the way it talks with customers.
The result is that chatbots are getting more sophisticated and demand for them from businesses is growing as the applications increase.