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Get ready everyone! It's 2015 and there are many very exciting trends in technology we need to embrace. Some of these trends will transform the marketing function and how business is done as we push toward to the end of the decade.

Our collective ability to learn, embrace and leverage these trends will be the key to achieving some of the highest levels of customer satisfaction we've ever seen. Using them we will be able to provide the increasingly tech-savvy, knowledgeable and demanding consumer with what they want, how they want it and when they want it. This, in turn, will have a direct effect on your individual brand, as well as on our brand as an industry.

"Through the rest of the decade, traditional lenders will increasingly need to respond to emerging lending disruptors like Quicken, Guaranteed Rate and Goodmortgage.com, which will look to continue to build scale," declares a paper released by Accenture entitled "North American Mortgage Banking 2020."

Some of the common characteristics shared by these lenders include:

1) A focus on customer centricity and empowerment

2) Embedded with social media

3) Willingness to leverage cloud and virtualization.

Armed with this insight, it is clear that a keen focus on understanding and leveraging the latest technology throughout the lending enterprise and at every customer touch point will be key to your future relevance and sustainability as a mortgage lender. This is especially true as lenders race to capture the attention of Millennials buying their first homes using mortgage products geared towards their unique financial circumstances. They live in the social media world, are tech savvy, and regard as irrelevant companies they deem as "not connected."

Even though it's clear that Millennials have expectations of any company with which they conduct business, their Boomer parents have been trained, in a manner of speaking, to have certain expectations as well. They are becoming more tech savvy and integrated with the latest trends, which is, therefore, raising their expectations when conducting business.

In fact, according to a recent study by Ipsos and Google, Baby Boomers now spend more time online than watching television – 19 hours per week on average. They own tablets, are app users, and frequent social networking sites. Sure, they've been slower to adapt, but they are adapting. This data, combined with what we know about Millennials, means that the technological bar has been raised substantially across generations.

Here are some trends we need to think about going forward, but by no means is this an exhaustive list:

1) Mobile: Does your mortgage company have an app yet? Is your website mobile-friendly (responsive)? If you want to reach Millennials or even the increasingly tech-savvy Boomers and everyone in between (Gen X), mobile technology is the hottest trend to pay attention to as an industry. Integration with mobile devices will enhance the quality of the relationships you have with loan applicants, vendors and business referrers by offering a smooth, intuitive experience anywhere, anytime.

Here are some statistics you need to be aware of:

· 86% of U.S. Millennial smartphone users attempt to access the mobile site of a business between multiple times per day to at least once per month (12%). (Source: Mitek and Zogby Analytics, September 24, 2014)

· 39% of younger Boomers and 28% of older Boomers who are Internet users own a smartphone. (Source: Forrester, State Of Consumers and Technology: Benchmark 2012)

· Top Boomer/senior mobile activities include looking for more information, making a purchase, visiting a website of interest, and contacting a business/organization. (Source: Reaching Today's Boomers and Seniors Online, Ipsos and Google, 2013)

These numbers, especially among the Boomer generation, can only go up as time goes on.

2) Internet of Things (IoT): This is a revolution in information sharing that we need to pay attention to over the next several years. It will change customer service models, how we market our companies, and raise the expectations of business referrers. It may come as no surprise to you that the Millennials invented IoT technology without even realizing it! But that's another article.

Since this terminology might be new to you, here's how it works. IoT technology allows "things" that have technology embedded within them to communicate wirelessly over the Internet with no human interaction. This wireless communication allows for automated decision-making and implementation. For example, a "thing" could be Fitbit which tracks your daily activity (exercise, food, weight, sleep), assembles that information on an online dashboard, and runs reports on your progress.

Fitbit can then be integrated with other applications on the Internet that alert you to your progress (or lack of progress) and suggest courses of action to help you meet your goals. IoT technology has been successfully applied in healthcare (wireless monitors of your health/vital functions that communicate with each other in hospital rooms), manufacturing (machine-to-machine communications to optimize production), and the retail (RFID tags for example) sectors thus far.

IoT is predicted to create incredible opportunities within the financial sector and is already being implemented by banks, which arguably gives them a competitive advantage. Today's customer, "
"Customer 3.0," is hyper-connected and informed. They expect to be engaged as individuals and on their terms with information, products and services tailored to their specific needs. With the wealth of information banks already have on their customers, it’s no wonder they are taking advantage of IoT technology to further engage and deepen relationships.

Forward-thinking entrepreneurs in the mortgage industry are wise to be thinking about the implications of this technology and how to integrate it to enhance marketing efforts and the overall customer/client experience.

3) Search Engine Optimization: For those who might not be exactly clear on what this is (yes, I've found that to be true even recently), according to Webopedia, SEO is "a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine – including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines…The higher a website ranks in a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by the user."

Now that we've got that cleared up, did you know that your website can be penalized in Google search results for not being mobile-friendly? It's true. This is happening on a limited basis as a type of penalty for certain errors that users encounter when accessing a website from a mobile platform.

This has actually been occurring for more than a year and it is believed Google will become more aggressive with it. The reason? Google believes that due to heightened web traffic globally from mobile devices, it will better serve its users to give a higher ranking to mobile-friendly sites so that users don't have to work through site errors when accessing information.

This is just one of many trends in SEO that directly affects you. Google is constantly updating its algorithms in an effort to provide the very best user experience, e.g., the latest Penguin 3.0 update.

These three areas only scratch the surface of what you need to be thinking about from a technology perspective. All of them are currently directly affecting your profitability and client/customer experience.

Welcome to the New Year!

- Dave Zitting, CEO, Primary Residential Mortgage contributed to this article.