“While it is exciting to finally see many trends – like IoT, Big Data and Mobile Experience – that we first predicted back in 2012, finally starting to be realised, brands that treat these with a gold rush mentality will leave themselves seriously exposed. For the majority of organisations, they have a lot to do in terms of getting their houses in order first,” warns Natalie Gross, CEO
“Digital transformation and change is moving at an increasingly rapid pace and brands need to stop the boardroom talk, restructure and get a framework in place that is agile enough to evolve as technology does. Organisations should ensure they lay solid digital foundations now, with an eye constantly on the future, so that any technology they implement in the coming year works as part of a wider master plan. For example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) may seem like a pipe dream at the moment, but real investment in AI technology is going on and organisations need to plan how this will affect their brands in the future,” concludes Gross.
Amaze are predicting the following key trends will dominate in 2016 and are calling on organisations to treat these as part of a longer-term plan for the next five to ten years:
Internet of Things (IoT) and Connected Commerce: the third dimension
If the web browser is the first dimension of the Internet and mobile the second, then IoT and connected commerce are the third. This technology is rapidly evolving and nearly every brand with a product is investing in IoT. Its applications are infinite, and so are the associated disruptions to business. Product design for example is going to be fundamental to IoT and connected commerce and there is still a lot of education to be done. While many brands have budgets set aside for innovation, they need to understand the possible applications first to ensure they are planning for the long term.
What these disruptions don’t necessarily mean, however, is that brands need to abandon their existing investment and digital ecosystem. Products may be changing as well as the consumer experience and business model but that does not mean you need to re-invent your digital estate. It is vital though that organisations do not approach connected commerce and IoT as a gimmick – there needs to be real innovation and use.
Big data will feed Artificial Intelligence (AI)
There has been real investment in AI particularly with brands such as Apple and its recent purchase of Faceshift. While these technologies aren’t going to be mainstream for some time, what brands need to be thinking about now is the big data that will be feeding AI in the future. A clear strategy is therefore required to ensure the right data is being collected, to outline how it can be most effectively harvested and finally, how ecommerce systems will need to adapt to accommodate AI in the future.
2016 will undoubtedly be the year that all brands need to plan for the long-term. However at Amaze we also predict that the following key trends will dominate during the next 12 months.
Mobile eCommerce continues to dominate
Innovation in terms of payment, apps and navigation will all continue to be key areas of focus, particularly as high street sales continue to decline. More focus needs to now be on how brands can engage with customers from a mobile perspective, creating the very best possible mobile experience.
Organisations, investing in mobile ecommerce solutions in 2016 need to be mindful of how these can be optimised to fit into a wider eco-system that includes IoT and connected commerce and, further down the line, even AI.
Complex business relationships will mix up commerce
The Global B2B eCommerce market will reach 6.7 Trillion USD by 2020 and is likely to dwarf the B2C markets in the very near future. This demand, driven by the scale of borderless company-to-company trade, will see it moving in many new directions in 2016. Innovation in the sector will be largely driven in response to the personal and complex nature of business relationships and transactions, and the variance in pricing and servicing of different customer and client tiers.
For industries where products need to be customised or configured, investment will need to be made to offer real-time digital support to meet user expectation. B2B commerce will also stretch into procurement, enabling prospects to receive quotes and proposals digitally in near to real-time, dramatically hastening the procurement timelines seen today. Success for organisations next year and beyond will only come if they can achieve the required speed to market, and a service at a fraction of the cost today’s agents would charge.
Move from channel measurement to customer experience measurement
The focus for 2016 will be for organisations to understand the role and value of channels at both a segmented audience level and also at an individual customer level. To ensure this happens, we will see the need for organisations to be ‘digitally ready’, as this change of perspective will require a significant alignment of teams and technologies. A big task, but for those that are able to plan/budget, execute and report at this level, they will be in a position to steal market share in 2016/17.
Personal shopping will come of age
We can expect to see the first mass adoption of niche personal commerce applications in 2016. Applications such as Mona will have the potential to offer hassle free shopping for consumers, combining everything from customer data, location and inventory. The result? These services won’t feel like the market places of today, they will be truly personalised and proactive. Users will be able to specify when they need to receive a product, the price they are prepared to pay and the distance they are prepared to travel to collect, should collection be the best or quickest route.
To ensure they stay ahead of the curve, brands and retailers will have to up their game and make smarter use of data, developing more partnerships and lowering margins wherever possible to gain market share.
Digital readiness, get set, go!
As a result of increased personalisation across channels, the need to join up digital operations across businesses will become ever more imperative as we enter 2016. This includes prioritising digital channel management - i.e. managing customer services through social platforms - as well as the digital transformation of organisations, which will enable the effective application of these services.
In taking a longer-term view, to break down silos within organisations and upskill staff for the effective management of digital services, businesses will safeguard their digital futures; a failure to transform however will see them lagging behind very quickly.
Make customer experience, all about the customer
Understanding and designing an effective user journey for customers is a challenge that is set to move centre-stage in 2016. This means taking a step away from focusing on single interactions and instead being more focused on the whole customer journey, from start to finish and the various customer touch-points along the way.
For some time, businesses have been moving from a traditional product/service marketing effort, to a more customer-driven approach. The result? Operationally, we have seen the harsh reality of a legacy of siloed delivery capabilities; single teams with responsibility for single touch-points. The challenge next year is to create multi-disciplinary delivery teams and processes that can be effective throughout the customer ecosystem. Methods and practices to address these challenges will exist in abundance but we can soon expect to see propositions to support the challenges of customer experience design.
Content will retain its throne
While many brands have come a long way in recognising the value of content, the strategic importance of content is still lagging behind in terms of adoption. The focus of next year therefore needs to be on strategy, to ensure that all activity delivers the results that are required.
This thinking applies to the purpose and relevancy of content too; content will only be effective if it has a well articulated, meaningful vision and that vision is embraced by everyone who is responsible for it. Once fully realised, brands then need to ensure they are creating more of the right type of content – content that is personalised, hyper-relevant and engaging. This will only be fully realised, however, if significant efforts are made to restructure teams and remove organisational silos that currently prevent change.
The next battleground will be who ‘owns’ the content driven customer experience and we can look to see how this develops in 2016.
Download all of the above predictions.