Forrester’s 2018 Predictions foretell a need for rapid technological evolution
Be agile, restless and get aggressive. Those are three of the underlying conclusions to be drawn from research company Forrester’s 2018 Predictions report. The report brings together the company’s findings on emerging tech trends and their effectiveness in helping organisations navigate a volatile business landscape. So, what does the research say are the imperatives for the leaders of 2018?
Pushing ahead to reinvigorate progress and innovation in Customer Experience (CX) is vital, according to Forrester. Customers today expect a hyper-personalised experience, seeing only the information relevant to them and streamlined processes to get what they want. These high expectations are driving the speed of change and setting the agenda for organisations. Many have made headway in this area, but their efforts are in danger of stalling once the quick wins have been accomplished, say the analysts. So, what needs to happen?
Best-practice will instead establish CX as a fundamental internal discipline. This will, of course, be fuelled by the considerable data that organisations are able to capture about individual preferences and behaviours. Not just collecting that data, of course, but skilfully manipulating and making use of it in real time. To leverage this competitive advantage, companies need to look to hyper-scalable cloud environments, and multi-cloud strategies.
This application of data is where further key themes in the report come in. Smart organisations are already working with intelligent machine agents and continually perfecting their algorithms to provide customers with options that match their prior transactions, preferences, behaviours and current emotions.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing how organisations can provide these personalised experiences at scale, through the creation of individual conversational interfaces, for example. At Navisite, we understand that to adopt AI at scale and to produce the results needed to boost the businesses performance, clients need to consider where their data is hosted. Forrester believes the opportunity goes much deeper: AI can help organisations, “enter new markets, create new products and services, and drive growth.” However, the technology is not yet so effective that it provides a ‘silver bullet’: data scientists need to reset expectations of what can currently be achieved and continue their momentum.
Another shift in focus to provide growth opportunities lies in cyber security. Increasingly, organisations are concentrating on “securing the user” to as much, or greater extent as “securing the business”. This focus allows further opportunities for tuning CX, since, as Forrester says, “Security and privacy teams need to know exactly who is accessing what and resolve identities across entry points.” This knowledge can be leveraged by marketing technology for consistent customisation and personalisation at the same time as providing security.
Forrester also identifies anxieties around talent acquisition to implement these and other digital initiatives. Talent is scarce, and this allows qualified personnel to pick and choose between employers, moving quickly to the environments that offer the most flexibility and the best in technology and innovation. Cloud-based technology offers several answers here. It allows people to work flexibly, to balance their work and home lives better, and so improves retention. It also allows businesses to employ talent worldwide, accessing the same tools and resources as those on-site. Often for some businesses, retaining talent in these specialist areas is hard due to the workload and variety of projects that can be given can be limited. The use of partners gives businesses the opportunity to gain the same talent on an as-a-service basis. The freedom and ability to request specialists when they need them, gives smaller enterprises access to a much wider pool of talent and the skilled workers get the job security from managed services companies, while keeping up to date by working on a variety of projects.
Forrester concludes that organisations need to “get aggressive” to match evolving customer expectations. Leading companies, it says, will adapt and thrive, eagerly working with these new technologies to see how they might augment their armoury and refining the ones with which they are already working. Those companies who are falling behind will need to adopt a laser-sharp focus to getting on track to remain competitive.
The Forrester report is available to download for free, and we’d recommend you take look.