Top tech trend predictions for 2020 (that'll help independent businesses)

Published: 30/12/2019

We’re currently living through the fourth technological revolution and things are changing at a mind-boggling rate. Over the last year or two, we’ve seen technology such as smartwatches, wireless headphones, contactless payments and voice recognition devices flood and dominate the market, and at the end of 2019, it’s now hard to imagine life without them.

Whether you consider yourself a bit of a ‘tech nerd’ and love keeping your finger on the pulse or all this is getting your head in a spin, the reality is that independent business owners need to keep up with the latest trends and technologies to keep their customers happy.

Did you know? Studies show 84% of consumers view how innovative a company is as important to their buying decision. 

Now we’re no Mystic Meg, but there are boffins out there who’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s to come and we’ve saved you a job and done the research, so without further ado, here’s our guide to the eight top tech trend predictions for 2020. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

A concept that formed the basis for a sci-fi drama less than 20 years ago is fast becoming a day-to-day reality, and experts predict that in 2020 people will become increasingly used to working alongside AI. 

If the words artificial intelligence make you want to run for the hills, you might be surprised to learn it’s something a lot of us already use. Put simply, AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, so if you’ve ever said ‘Hey Siri’ or asked your smart speaker about the weather, you’re not an AI novice at all. 

Designing and using your own AI-system would be super expensive so businesses looking to put it into action will likely make use of a service provider, and tech experts believe 2020 is the year companies will adopt AI and providers will begin to offer more tailored applications as a consequence. 

5G

The (somewhat controversial) 5G network is a tidal wave that started this year but will likely pick up momentum in 2020. The greater bandwidth provided will increase internet speeds while offering a simpler set-up process, making it a pretty attractive proposition to individuals and organisations alike. 

For businesses, 5G will mean widespread, super-fast and stable internet access and the implications will be far-reaching. Card machines, computers, the aforementioned AI technology and anything else that relies on the internet should be more efficient and reliable, allowing for the collection and transfer of more data than ever before.  

Mobile commerce

Again, this one’s not brand spanking new for 2020, but has been steadily gaining traction in recent years and is likely to continue that path over the next 12 months. Essentially, it’s the use of wireless devices such as smartphones, watches, tablets, etc. to pay for goods.

Consumers are rapidly adopting new ways to pay and relishing the convenience of new payment technologies, so any business wanting to provide high customer satisfaction and avoid (god forbid) turning shoppers away will need to ensure their payment systems, both online and instore, are up to date. 

Prescriptive analytics (PA)

Yes, it’s a tongue-twister, and we agree it sounds a bit overwhelming, but once you’ve got your head around it, it’s likely to be a powerful tool for any business. While analytics isn’t anything new - it’s been used for a while now to examine historical consumer behaviour in an attempt to boost sales, PA takes things one step further.

It’s described by some as the holy grail of analytics because it takes the data collected and uses it to make suggestions on how to improve performance going forward. In fact, tech experts expect basic PA functions to make an appearance in existing analytics tools in 2020. 

The end of an era for apps?

It might be hard to imagine, but many experts believe apps are on the way out in favour of Progressive Web Apps or less drastically making apps available to download from a cloud (rather than app store). 

Why? It’s down to the competitive nature of the app market; how difficult it can be to get noticed within various app stores and how expensive it is to develop and launch a new app. Whether the extinction of apps actually happens remains to be seen and given the huge investments businesses have already pumped into them, it might be a while before we say goodbye to them altogether. 

Extended reality

Back to the mind-bending stuff, and now we’re talking about the umbrella term of Extended Reality (XR) which covers:

  • Virtual Reality (VR) - a completely immersive digital experience where users enter a computer-generated world via a headset.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) - digital objects are overlayed onto the real world (think of a Snapchat filter) using technology.  
  • Mixed Reality (MR) - an extension of AR whereby users can interact with digital objects (imagine a holographic drumkit you’ve placed in your bedroom using AR).

You’ve probably already seen VR headsets in action for things like video-games and films, but those in the know believe businesses will be getting in on the XR action in 2020 using VR and AR for training and simulations, as well as in a bid to keep consumers interested and engaged. 

Automation software

If you’ve ever heard someone complaining about computers taking over our jobs, then buckle in for more of where that came from thanks to automation software. 

Giants like Amazon have got this nailed already and their ginormous tech-driven warehouses are controlled by autonomous mobile robots, and experts believe this is the direction businesses will be heading to compete. 

It’s not just the picking and moving of stock that’s automated either, it’s stock management too, and the technology’s praised for improving efficiency, accuracy and speed of processing. It’s predicted that automated inventory taking will soon be commonplace because the accurate data it provides has shown to help businesses make smarter decisions, forecast more accurately, manage stock-flow and ultimately boost profits. 

Taking things to the next level, staff might be next on the automation chopping block with the rise of robotic store assistants who’ve already been introduced by some companies to help shoppers find what they’re looking for and answer questions.  

Chat Bots

Messaging-based customer service ‘bots’ have been rapidly adopted in recent years, in fact, at least 50% of Fortune 5000 companies have tested them out so far.

Why? Because customers prefer the messaging as-a-service channel which in turn reduces call volume for companies. Experts predict AI bots will continue to gain in popularity thanks to their ability to improve the customer journey, reduce cart abandonment and solve post-sale problems - all without the need for human intervention. 

The take-away points for small businesses

We understand not everyone has the purse strings Amazon does and that investing heavily in automation or extended reality probably isn’t realistic (excuse the pun) for most small businesses. But, there are things you can take away from these predictions to ensure 2020 is a successful year for you.

Here are our top tips:

  • Make sure your customer-facing technology is up-to-date (don’t be running Windows 1996 while taking customer details, for example).
  • Keep your eyes peeled for prescriptive analytics being introduced to your existing web analytics program.
  • Be sure your payment systems are up to date and accepting the latest payment methods both in-store and online.
  • Introduce an automated inventory system. This doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary, EPOS till systems will monitor and amend your stock levels while you make sales, for example. 
  • Consider whether new technologies are a good fit for your business before diving straight in. For example, if you sell cushions, AR might be a great way for customers to try before they buy by overlaying them onto their sofas. However, if you sell stationery supplies AR is unlikely to add any value to your business. 


If you want a helping hand taking all the payments you can in 2020 then you’re in the right place. Whether it’s contactless or mobile payments, an EPOS till system or an online payment gateway, our experts will help you bring in the new year with a bang. Get in touch today on 0808 274 2017 to get the ball rolling. 

Takepayments Barclaycard