In this week's news roundup, we look at sustainability data from The Conference Board, 5G's potential impact on business IT spending and a new AI-powered logo maker from Fiverr.
- A global survey suggests people are interested in sustainable products, but companies have to address hurdles to reach those consumers.
- As a growing technology, 5G is worthy of the excitement and IT spending, but the COVID-19 outbreak could cause problems.
- Fiverr is using artificial intelligence to help businesses design a custom logo.
As the United States heads closer to election night in November, business owners all over the world are wondering how the results of the next election will affect their bottom line. Who sits in the Oval Office could have a major geopolitical impact on the world, leaving business interests potentially in the balance.
Earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) won the New Hampshire primary with a slim margin over South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Each of the eight Democratic primary contenders seeking the nomination has ideas about how the government should handle everything from taxes to Social Security to healthcare, with each item having a potentially major impact on American businesses of all sizes.
Though most Americans focused on what's happening in Washington this week, plenty of notable things happened in the business world. In our first installment of News of the Week, we've gathered a handful of headlines that will give small business owners insight on these happenings as you head into the weekend.
Consumers are interested in sustainability – just not for a higher cost
Earlier this week, The Conference Board released data from a global survey that suggests higher prices and a breakdown in communication between eco-friendly businesses and their customers remain the biggest barriers for sustainability-focused brands.
More than 30,000 consumers in 64 markets participated in the survey, which sought to understand their views on sustainability. According to researchers, consumers are interested in sustainable products but don't necessarily rank eco-friendliness as highly as a product's "price, function, performance, quality, and convenience," all of which remain top considerations.
"Our research found that, for example, when purchasing major home appliances and choosing a daily mode of transportation, consumers generally prioritize utilitarian, functional features over energy efficiency, country of production, and environmental impact," researchers wrote.
Along with a perception that sustainable products are more expensive, researchers found that there was some variation with how consumers understood the concept of sustainability. According to the survey, sustainability is associated with recycling and being "green," but brands might want to take a more concerted approach by differentiating their more sustainable products without using vague labels.
In addition to the survey's findings, researchers offered potential solutions for both major hurdles. When it comes to the price issue, brands can "focus on cost efficiency to minimize price premiums; offer sustainable goods and services that are superior in some way to unsustainable alternatives; educate customers on the sustainability benefits their brand offers and create emotional attachment; and introduce pricing schemes that reward repeat purchases of sustainable products."
As for a brand's lack of sustainability-focused messaging, a company can "seek certification from independent organizations and inclusion in app-based directories that provide information about products' sustainability features."
5G to boost IT spending, but slow PC sales and coronavirus could inhibit growth
By the end of this year, worldwide IT spending will see a 5% increase "as software and services investment remains stable while smartphone sales recover on the back of a 5G-driven upgrade cycle," according to a new update to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Black Books. Telecom service spending could increase by 1%, and IoT and robotics will see a 16% increase, leading total IT spending worldwide to increase by 6%, or $5.2 trillion, in 2020.
Despite the expected increase, experts at IDC are expecting a slight decrease in overall IT spending growth from 7% in 2019 to 4% in 2020. Software spending growth will also see a dip from 10% to less than 9% and IT services from 4% to 3%, mostly on the back of a slowing PC market.
Stephen Minton, program vice president in IDC's Consumer Insights and Analysis Group, said external crises around the world could have an impact.
"Much of this year's growth is dependent on a positive smartphone cycle as the year progresses, but this is under threat from disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis," he said. "Our current forecast is for broadly stable tech spending in 2020, but PC sales will be way down on last year, while server/storage investments will not recover to the levels of growth seen in 2018 when hyperscale service providers were deploying new datacenters at an aggressive pace."
Since China is a major driver in IT spending growth, its ongoing issues with COVID-19 could add some downside risk to the aforementioned short-term spending forecasts. "It's too early to quantify the spillover impact on other regions, but risks are also now weighted more to the downside in the rest of the Asia/Pacific region (currently forecast to post 5% IT spending growth this year), the United States (+7%), and Western Europe (+3%)," experts warned.
While other tech areas like cloud tech, AI, AR/VR, blockchain and robotics will continue to show strong growth, it's important that if your company deals with these technologies that you expect some shortages in the near future. If your business relies on tech from China or other areas affected by COVID-19, you may want to adjust your expectations or seek alternate sources.
AI-powered tool will help Fiverr's seller community with logos
On Wednesday, Fiverr announced the launch of new technology that will help sellers offer more customizable products and buyers to more easily obtain original designs. Fiverr Logo Maker is an AI-powered logo creator that will let users "monetize their existing design portfolio by instantly producing hundreds of logo permutations using AI-based tools."
While most businesses and entrepreneurs may balk at the idea of introducing AI and machine learning into the creative process, Fiverr reps said the service takes a "unique approach that preserves the integrity of human-made logo designs" while remaining a speedy option for businesses looking to devise their new logo.
"The idea that artificial intelligence will eliminate many jobs in the future is outdated," Micha Kaufman, founder and CEO of Fiverr said. "Automation will not displace human imagination and creativity, rather, the technology's impact will be in supporting and enhancing fundamental human capabilities."
The Fiverr Logo Maker will work, according to the company, by "combining the creative artwork designed by Fiverr community members and its intuitive AI algorithms that allow it to generate relevant, effective logos for businesses in a few clicks." Along with a new logo, the technology can also provide a "complete branding package within seconds" that can be implemented across a company's website, social media presence and other assets.
Additionally, the service allows buyers to work directly with the designer who made the original template for any changes they need that the AI can't handle.
While successful marketing remains a multifaceted endeavor, a company's logo is one of the most important aspects of its image. For any small business looking for a quick logo, this new addition may be a good option.