We follow up last week’s ‘Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology trends’ with Forrester’s predictions for 2018. Forrester calls 2018 ‘a year of reckoning’, as a nod to the uncertainties surrounding every business today. It was a year of ‘navigating change’ in 2017. This year’s predictions are regarding the market dynamics that favour those who are aggressively transforming to meet the current demands, but the same can create existential risks to those who are keeping status quo.
Customer Experience: 30%* of companies will see further decline in CX quality and lose a point of growth. In the experience economy, it’s important to develop CX with customer trust at the core. It’s not enough to go after ‘easy early wins’ but develop CX in a way that will result in meaningful operational change. (*Forrester 2017 CX Index)
Digital transformation: This is no longer a choice but still 60%* of the executives feel they are lagging in this regard. Without an effective digital infrastructure, it will become increasingly difficult to meet rising consumer expectations. (*source: report)
Right talent: Specialised talent like data scientists, information security analysts, high-end software developers and experience designers (key to CX) will be in demand but they will favour companies who are leaders in digital transformation. The ‘digital laggards’ will need aggressive talent incubation.
Intelligent agents: In 2018, 10%* of purchase decisions will be guided by the platform’s agent through dynamic and ‘emotional’ relationship between the intelligent agent and the individual. (*source: report)
Algorithmic expertise: These agents run on algorithms (mostly AI-driven) that make sense of customer preferences, recommend actions, learn and act. Businesses that fail to master this will face the risk of them being left out of customers’ pool of choices.
Consumer discernment: As brands start to master ‘personalisation’ through agents and channels, consumers will become more discerning and demand brands to use subtle power of conversion. 1% of US population will spend equivalent to $24billion* to cocoon themselves from noise and clutter. (*source: report)
Advertising correction: Advertising will need to adopt tactics like superior CX, relevant loyalty programs, (subtle) individualised experiences at scale to counter ad avoidance. Arresting churn rate will take precedence over acquisition, especially for established brands.
GDPR challenge (Europe-centric): Brands will struggle to comply for logistical and economic reasons. Consumers will gain even more power to decide how brands engage with them.
FinTech to challenge banking (Europe-centric): Emerging FinTech technologies will seek to use account data of customers from banks to provide them with more value. ‘Open banking’ will continue to grow.
Retail experience transformation: Omni-channel experience will lead the way and intelligent agents will continue to increase their influence on consumers’ decisions.
Reset AI: Businesses will need to build on current AI benefits such as augmenting intelligence or developing conversational interfaces and focus on long terms benefits to achieve results at an overall operating model level.
Blockchain buzz: This technology continues to grow but businesses will need to perform a rigorous cost/benefit analysis versus existing technologies and also have clarity on long term sustenance.
Security for profit: Details collected and analysed for ‘security’ purposes can be used for heightened personalisation. Companies that can crack this code can turn investments in security to profit.
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Vipul Jadhav is the director of client services at Centric DXB. He provides both strategic and tactical leadership across multimillion dirham engagements while keeping up-to-date on daily project activities. Aspiring clients can reach him on email@example.com