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Future of Experience: A Gartner Theme Insight Report

Published: 05 May 2017 ID: G00328631

Analyst(s):

Summary

Being competitive requires enterprises to adapt more quickly to the experience of customers, employees and users. This collection of research notes analyzes the future of experience from the perspectives of IT, marketing, supply chain, and technology and service provider leaders.

Overview

Opportunities and Challenges

  • The next generation of people (those born between 1995 and 2010 who account for 27% of the world population) is entering the workforce and has spending power. They are less inclined to trust companies and brands, expect to be heard and involved, are quick to switch preferences, and seek out employers and brands that offer authentic and transparent experiences.

  • The next generation of technologies that enables a better customer, employee or user experience will provide the biggest opportunities for responding to these new demands. Analytics is receiving the largest investment, but a raft of technologies is set to cause a series of major disruptions for the majority of organizations.

  • Enterprises that adapt faster to these demand- and supply-side disruptions will outperform peers. The war for talent and customers is changing. Hiring the right talent or acquiring the right prospects isn't enough — delivering experiences that earn customer loyalty and advocacy is key.

What You Need to Know

  • Customer experience: Your business results depend on your brand's ability to retain and add customers. You must win at every interaction the customer has with your organization, whether that be a marketing campaign, a call to a contact center, an invoice or a delivery reliant on the supply chain. Every department must play its part in a coordinated fashion.

  • Technology provider experience: Disruptive technology, such as bots, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AI), wearables, voice activation, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual personal assistants (VPAs), artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics, will enhance and become integral parts of our day-to-day customer, employee and other users' experiences.

  • Employee experience: Improving employee experience requires a more holistic view, taking into account the entirety of an individual worker's experience, including interactions with external stakeholders, building location and layout, and systems and tools, as well as their health, well-being and family responsibilities outside of the work environment.

  • User experience: Since user experience (UX) plays such an important role in any digital strategy, we see many industries — especially the ones that are furthest along in digitalization — building up substantial internal capabilities rather than relying on external help.

Insight From the Analyst

Experience Is The Watchword of Our Age

Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc. Ed Thompson , VP Distinguished Analyst

Leaders across every part of the enterprise are claiming to place experience at the center of their strategies. But talking is not the same as doing. A growing subset is taking action and reaping the rewards. Businesses that fail to do so risk falling behind their more savvy competitors. Those who are successful in improving the customer, employee and user experiences are being disproportionately rewarded. And those who are missing the mark are being disproportionately punished.

But how did experience gain this exalted status?

Consider the rise of information technology and the way it has changed the fabric of business and society. Consumer technologies and information have become more accessible to customers and employees, empowering them in their relationships with suppliers and employers. At the same time, enterprises have been inundated with new forms of data about their customers and employees, which is opening up new opportunities — but are enterprises able to keep pace?

Technology innovation, which once was driven by investments in the military and government, and by big business, has swung round over the last 20 years to focus first and foremost on consumers. So, people now find themselves with a more powerful UX when at home than when employees at work. They also take the consumer experiences they receive from leading tech companies, such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon, and form expectations for every brand in every industry.

The promise (and sometimes the reality) of technology has set expectations for every interaction that cannot be undone. Technology has, in essence, shifted power to the user. Understanding that shift is fundamental when thinking about the future of experience. It has touched everyone.

So what will happen next? Well, we know some things about future customers based on demographics and surveys: They are likely to be longer-living, urban-dwelling, solo-living, increasingly privacy-aware and willing to bargain with their data — they may not even be people (see "Maverick* Research: When Things Become 'People'" ). But what will their experiences be like as customers and employees, and how will the user experience change over the coming years? This is what we set out to explore from many angles.

The notes that make up this Special Report are a guide to help leaders prepare their enterprises for the future of experience from multiple perspectives.

We hope that you enjoy our collective ideas, thoughts, insights and recommendations.

Kind regards,

Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Executive Overview

Definitions

Every interaction that an enterprise has — whether with customers, employees or users — generates an experience. The experience may be intended or accidental, positive or negative, but feelings are always generated as a result. Ensuring that every interaction meets the expectations and desires of users is crucial to creating relationships that last. Likewise, reacting to the feelings generated by the interaction will either build on that relationship or undermine it. Positive relationships ensure that customer, citizen, passenger and patient value grows, employees thrive and users are enthused.

Table 1.   Definitions

Term

Definition

Customer experience

The customer's perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier's employees, systems, channels or products.

Customer experience management

The practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions in order to meet or exceed customer expectations, and so increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.

Employee experience

The employee's perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with their employer's customers, leaders, teams, processes, policies, tools and work environment.

User experience

The sum of the effects caused by a person using a digital solution.

Source: Gartner (May 2017)

Theme

People have become empowered by technology. As customers, users and employees, they expect more, complain more, are more willing to switch suppliers or employers, and share far more about their experiences. CEOs have appointed more than 5,000 CX leaders worldwide to coordinate activities and invest in projects to keep up with the change.

Meanwhile, Generation Z makes up more than 20% of the current EU and U.S. populations, and is critical for companies. As Gen Z matures, its influence grows, so understanding this generation will be vital. Preference and purchase will be driven more by personalized experiences, trusted peer-to-peer information, real-time delivery of products and services, and VPAs. As a result of Gen Z, we expect that:

By 2025, the number of consumer goods items (SKUs) that consumers can choose from will increase by 30%.

Understanding Gen Z's demands as employees will be equally critical. This generation's changing expectations, especially of technology, are already felt in HR departments. Indeed, companies with aging workforces are struggling to recruit Gen Z if they can't show a satisfactory employee experience.

While the demand side of the equation is getting tougher, so is the supply side. Technology innovation has created challenges. New channels of interaction with customers and employees have exploded in the last decade. The cost to support them and, more importantly, coordinate them is becoming painful.

Through 2020, more than 25% of enterprises seeking unified omnichannel customer engagement will encounter irreconcilable people, political or organizational issues.

Of course, technology can also provide opportunities.

By 2020, we believe that more than 40% of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of CX, that AI will disrupt the jobs of 1 million phone-based customer support agents, and that 10% of B2C first-level engagement requests will be taken by virtual customer assistants (VCAs), up from less than 1% today.

This means that enterprises will need to be aware of the possibilities, brave enough to adopt and quick enough to adapt, or they risk losing this experience technology arms race.

Figure 1. Future of Experience
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (May 2017)

Research Highlights

The Future of Customer Experience for IT Leaders

Customer experience (CX) continues to be at, or near, the top of the CEOs, CMOs, and CIOs' agendas, according to Gartner's 2017 executive surveys. In 2015, Gartner published a Special Report about the causes and drivers of CX, the appointment of CX leaders, how CX is measured and governed, and the role of IT (see "Customer Experience Is the New Competitive Battlefield" ). This Special Report builds on that research and looks at how CX will change in the future, given the variety of external factors organizations will face.

The report approaches the future from two different perspectives:

  • How technology will be applied to improve CX across all industries in the future: Among the research reports in this section are those that look at the near-term future state of investment in ongoing CX capabilities and new projects. Customer analytics, web content management, business process management and master data management lead the way for planned increased technology investments in the next 12 months. The IoT, and technologies such as 3D printing, and virtual and augmented reality look set to radically alter many sectors over the next five years. In the medium term, connectivism is likely to change enterprises' view of customers. In the long term, the use of scenario planning reveals that a trend to use algorithms, in contrast to experts as a means of value creation, when mapped against a trend toward subscription access rather than ownership will create new business models based on differing CX types.

  • How the customer experience will change with the use of technology in specific industries: The retail, consumer goods, high-tech and telecommunications sectors have long invested in technology to improve the customer and brand experience. Their focus is on Generation Z. Although media and market research companies have labeled them as "screen addicts" with short attention spans, in reality they are a financially conservative and research-oriented group, and keen to maximize their impact on a global scale. Insurers, universities, utilities, government departments and healthcare companies are now also facing similar challenges, but each industry faces unique technical and organizational challenges.

IT leaders focused on improving CX should:

  • Produce a portfolio of planned and ongoing IT projects that are ranked by their financial and productivity benefits, as well as by how much they improve the customer's experience.

  • Build and maintain a list of competitors that are admired for their superior digital customer experience, and then expand to enterprises in other geographies and industries.

  • Research, monitor, rank and promote future technologies that may be able to help improve the CX specifically for your enterprise.

  • Examine how business models are changing in response to technology's impact on the CX of the future and communicate the opportunities to CX initiative leaders.

Related Research

Survey Analysis: Customer Experience Innovation 2017 — AI Now on the CX Map : CX improvement projects touch on technology, people and culture across the organization. Application leaders supporting CX should adopt bimodal approaches to drive CX objectives today, while mapping the route to machine learning and VAs.

Shape the Future of Customer Experience With Customer Analytics : Customer analytics is the No. 1 planned technology investment to transform the CX. Data and analytics leaders must understand how real-time responses, customer journey analytics and leveraging AI are trending and will shape the future of customer experience in digital business.

Prioritize the Six Styles of Customer Analytics for Better Customer Experience : CX will improve if data and analytics leaders understand and engage customers beyond standard segmentation. Learn from thought leaders in multiple industries about six emerging styles of customer analytics that can be adopted to have a higher impact on the business.

Introducing Digital Connectivism: A New Philosophy for the Digital Society : We are creating a digital society that is reshaping who we are and how we live. This new dynamic needs a new philosophy as our old business-driven ways don't work anymore. Digital leaders should embrace "digital connectivism" to navigate the new digital society with skill and in comfort.

The Two Digital Threats Most Likely to Disrupt Your Relationship With the Customer of the Future: The changing nature of product and service creation, and the overall CX, is forcing businesses to redefine who they are. Application leaders supporting the customer of the future must understand what it means to be customer-centric as the very nature of "customers" changes.

MDM Is Critical to CRM and Customer Experience : Master data management is critical for application leaders to create the 360-degree view of the customer required to achieve the most optimized CX.

The 10 Habits of Customer-Centric Organizations in the Age of Digital Business : Organizations are challenged with building a digital business while prioritizing customers' needs. Customer-centric organizations increase opportunities for business growth by putting customer needs first. The accelerating pace of technology innovation offers new opportunities to engage customers.

The Internet of Things Will Improve the Customer Experience : Customers increasingly encounter connected "things" in products and services. The IoT can improve both CX and augment the performance of the humans who deliver it. It gives CIOs an opportunity to play a bigger role in CX.

Establish Communities to Better Engage Sales Partners : Communities are not integrated in all commercially available PRM applications. This leaves application leaders with the challenge of assessing which capability of a partner community might be a best fit for their channel organizations.

Tackle Technological, Organizational and People Barriers to Achieve Unified Omnichannel Customer Engagement : Most organizations are striving to achieve a unified omnichannel customer engagement strategy. While many technology barriers exist, application leaders must also be prepared to deal with the toughest barriers of all: organization and people.

How to Alleviate Potential Future Survey Fatigue : Survey fatigue cannot be ignored. Organizations that adopt a complacent approach to capturing feedback will likely struggle to achieve their CX objectives over the next five years as a result of poor-quality feedback data from an ever-diminishing response rate.

Industry-Specific Related Research

What Generation Z Will Want, and How Retail and Consumer Product Companies Can Deliver : Generation Z is the future of the global economy. Supply chain leaders of retail and consumer product companies should address this new generation's unprecedented expectations and develop supply chains to meet them.

Future of Experience: Generation Z Is Inspiring the Future of Customer Experience : There is much talk about how millennials are shaping the future. However, industry leaders should be cognizant of a rapidly growing cohort — Generation Z — who is already becoming the prime movers, shakers and disruptors, shaping experiences not only for the future of retailing, but for the future of living.

Future of Experience: Tap Into Gen Z's Ethos to Revamp the Retail Workplace : Generation Z is the next wave of consumers and employees. These tech-native individuals will transform consumption and work. Retail CIOs must tap into Generation Z's ethos to ensure that organizations are ready to use their talents to create market growth.

Generation Z Will Force Improved Brand Experiences on Consumer Goods Manufacturers : Generation Z will become a significant consumer force by 2020. This generational cohort possesses several unique attributes, and consumer goods manufacturer CIOs need to act now to grow brand relevance and equity with them.

The Next Frontier of Insurance Customer Experiences Requires a New Model and Technology Innovation : Creating optimal customer experiences in insurance requires a new business model based on IT innovation. CIOs of insurance companies must use technology to support new requirements, including a modern channel infrastructure, intelligent channel interactions, IoT enablement and product innovation.

The Future of Experience in Healthcare Demands a Consumer-Aligned, Collaborative Ecosystem : The future of experience in healthcare demands an ecosystem of entities that aligns business models with consumer goals, and can enable collaboration, interoperability and consumer empowerment. Healthcare CIOs can define, participate in, or resist this change. Industry leaders are investing today.

The Future of the Student Experience Is Personal : A personalized, integrated and coherent student experience will become a key differentiator for higher education institutions. CIOs need to start building the strategies and infrastructure to make this happen.

CSP Quality of Experience Will Hinge on Adoption of New Operational Technologies : As CSPs modernize their operations and networks, the shift toward cloud service delivery and infrastructure virtualization will take center stage. However, technology business unit leaders need to expedite investments in advanced operational intelligence tools, such as analytics and AI, to take customer quality of experience to a new level.

Put Citizen Experience at the Center of Your Operations by Developing a Citizen Engagement Hub : The future requires a 360-degree view of interactions with each citizen. Government CIOs should develop a citizen engagement hub to capture, measure and improve the experience in all user interactions.

The Future of Customer Experience for Marketing Leaders

Creating powerful, differentiated brands and producing sustainable marketing results will demand new skills, strategies, tactics and technology to improve the CX throughout the customer journey. A collection of research notes outlined in "What Technology Marketers Need to Know Today to Deliver a Great Customer Experience Tomorrow" explores the future of technology in two dynamic areas:

  • How consumer technology and behavior is changing: As devices, platforms and technologies evolve, they impact consumer behavior. This affects the channels and methods that marketers use to reach consumers with paid and owned content, but, more importantly, it alters what consumers expect of brands. Your brand's skill in terms of anticipating these changes is crucial in order to react and prepare today for tomorrow's customer needs.

  • How advertising and marketing technology is changing: Marketing leaders' abilities to adjust rapidly and meet future customer expectations are enabled or limited by their martech and adtech competences. Your brand's proficiency in collecting, integrating, analyzing and reacting to consumer data is integral to its ability to respond with more agility, efficiency and effectiveness than competitors.

The former area focuses on how and where you will execute consumer-facing programs, and the latter on how you will prepare your enterprise to understand and react to consumers' changing needs. An enterprise that adopts new consumer-facing technology in a way that fails to satisfy key customer needs will be no better off than one that recognizes those needs but is unprepared to act. Marketing leaders can best exploit future CX opportunities by recognizing how consumer behaviors are evolving and mastering marketing capabilities to meet those changes.

This Special Report includes six documents for marketing leaders interested in emerging customer technologies, and six documents to help marketing leaders understand and prepare for evolutions in marketing and advertising technology.

Marketing leaders focused on improving the customer experience should:

  • Assess existing technologies to identify gaps in your capability and key customer segments, understand customer perception of their experiences, and develop personas based on customer needs and expectations.

  • Build current and future-state customer journey maps through the Buy, Own and Advocate cycles, considering not just the traditional marketing funnel, but the steps that lead customers to increase loyalty and share of wallet, decrease churn, and advocate on behalf of the brand.

  • Align data with your personas and journey maps to identify and fix existing touchpoints that encourage dissatisfaction and interrupt your brand's journey to loyalty and advocacy.

  • Consider the differences in your current and to-be journey maps, identifying gaps where innovative solutions may be piloted today. With so much change in consumer- and brand-side technology, let customer expectations and journeys guide your innovation priorities in order to prepare for the CX demands of the near future.

Related Research

Predicts 2017: Marketers, Expect the Unexpected : By 2020, five technology shifts will catalyze transitions in both marketing strategies and organizations. In that time frame, Gartner predicts that 100 million consumers will shop in augmented reality, and that virtual agents will participate in the majority of commercial interactions between people and businesses. Understanding these trends will enable marketing leaders to take action today to improve CX and exploit future opportunities.

How Marketing Innovators Use Virtual Reality to Create Value : VR technology is years from mass adoption, but some brands are finding valuable ways to pilot VR capabilities today. Using VR to help customers make better decisions in the Evaluate and Select stages of their journeys provides strong opportunities for attribution and measurement. Although this technology will continue to evolve in the coming years, brands are experimenting with ways to use VR to improve CX.

Capitalizing on the Internet of Things: An Outlook for Marketing Leaders : The IoT is redefining marketing priorities as the growth of sensor-enabled "things" makes predictive insights and real-time interactions catalysts for competitive differentiation. Marketing leaders can capitalize on IoT innovations to lead their brands' digital business era success.

How to Market to Customers via Mobile Messaging : SMS, in-app communications and consumer messaging apps are available channels for companies looking to reach customers through mobile devices. Marketing leaders must identify and integrate the appropriate mix of mobile messaging solutions into their mobile strategy.

Understand and Overcome the Ad-Blocking Arms Race : Consumers' use of ad-blocking software continues to grow, particularly in emerging markets. Reasons for its use range from a desire to decrease annoyance to the need to manage bandwidth consumption. Marketing leaders can combat the growth of ad blocking and improve their advertising efficiency through advertising best practices — such as improving ad relevance and ad formats — and CX analytics to understand and react to consumer preferences.

Use Natural-Language Technologies to Converse With Audiences at Scale : An emerging form of UI, which is simultaneously as old as human existence and as futuristic as sci-fi, poses new threats and opportunities for market leaders managing CX. New voice-controlled devices will result in a proliferation of conversational touchpoints, such as voice search queries and automated chatbots. Understanding your brand's opportunities to create intuitive and compelling experiences for customers via natural language will guide today's investments and pilots in conversational experiences.

Innovation Insight for Understanding Customer Data Platforms : The currency of marketing isn't dollars and euros; it's data. The most successful marketers of the future will be the ones that master data collection, integration and analysis, and take action. A new category of marketing platform, the customer data platform (CDP), provides a holistic view of the customer to help execute and optimize personalized journeys. A CDP is an integrated customer database that is managed by marketing leaders. It unifies a company's customer data from online and offline channels to enable modeling and to drive CX.

Marketing Technology Survey 2016: How Marketers Use Technology to Run, Grow and Transform Their Organizations : Martech deployments fall into three tiers: basic, intermediate and advanced. Advanced capabilities, such as dynamic creative optimization and multivariate testing, are fully deployed and used regularly in fewer than 40% of organizations (while another 24% to 30% report deployments in process). Getting advanced technology right is crucial for meeting future customer needs.

What's Hot in Digital Commerce for Marketers in 2017 : In the future, selling online will require new technologies, data and CX strategies. Gartner foresees that, by 2018, 5% of brands with a digital commerce strategy will deploy a commerce platform specifically for "things" in the IoT. By 2020, smart personalization engines will enable digital businesses to increase profits by up to 15%. Marketing leaders responsible for digital commerce who recognize trends and plan for smart pilots will be better-prepared for the changes in martech that enable dynamic personalization, thing commerce, conversational commerce and other e-commerce developments.

The Future of Customer Feedback in Marketing : The demise of customer surveys may be overstated, but are under pressure to evolve. As touchpoints proliferate and attention spans diminish, surveys must evolve with new and innovative approaches to survey design and delivery, as well as for data integration and analytics tools. Moreover, marketing leaders will be tasked with gathering and interpreting new forms of data from wearables, the IoT and other ambient interfaces, adding to the ways in which brands can understand, design and react to customer interactions.

How Modern Performance Media Drives Advertising Effectiveness : In a customer-centric world, conversions occur throughout a customer journey. Traditional definitions of performance advertising are antiquated, because they focus on driving conversions at the bottom of the funnel. Today's marketing leaders must consider the entire chain of conversions that occur throughout the buying journey. A modern definition of performance media will allow marketing leaders to deploy advertising technology, algorithmic bidding and sophisticated modeling at each stage of the customer's journey.

Increase Response Rates Through Improved Survey Design : Surveys are a vital source of customer insight. However, poor survey designs and practices reduce response rates and undermine the value of voice-of-the-customer data. Marketing leaders should use the best practices outlined in this research to solicit actionable data that improves CX.

The Future of Customer Experience for Supply Chain Leaders

Products and services delivery and fulfillment is changing as digital business enables more choice for customers. The supply chain will assume a more important role as advanced data analytics and digital supply chain capabilities become mainstream. This will change how companies conduct business to improve CX, strengthen key trading relationships in B2B industries, and adapt to the changing wants and needs of consumers in B2C industries.

Although supply chain leaders recognize the importance of the overall CX, many struggle with where to begin designing for change. The "perfect order" is a useful and important metric, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

In many enterprises, dedicated CX leaders, or marketing or sales teams take the lead in driving the CX agenda. Yet, over the course of the customer life cycle, there are many interactions between the enterprise and the customer that relate to logistics and supply chain. Supply chain leaders can gain deeper understanding of what the customer values and their pain points by looking at the complete order-to-cash process. Through 2020, internal silos of customer engagement will be one of the top three causes of customer dissatisfaction across all industries.

Top companies that operate an outside-in supply chain, such as Nokia, Johnson & Johnson, Monsanto and Heineken, have figured out how to capitalize on this direct access to customers and can spot opportunities to develop revenue categories. Different projects emerge, such as vendor-managed inventory (VMI), collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment (CPFR), and joint logistics, which focus on delivering improvements and solutions to specific customer issues in order to improve CX.

Customer service automation changes how customers interact with companies. Phone calls with customer service agents and face-to-face discussions are set to decrease significantly and will be limited to complex interactions. The majority of interactions related to the supply chain will be handled through customer self-service portals, chatbots with decision trees or VAs using AI.

Supply chain leaders focused on improving the customer experience should:

  • Promote the understanding across the enterprise that the supply chain is often uniquely placed to identify customer needs and drive better CXs. Exploit this direct access route to customers to increase satisfaction and improve the overall CX for competitive advantage.

  • Collaborate both internally and externally to understand and translate customer needs. Develop capabilities that deliver customer-specific solutions and drive customer service that goes beyond simply fulfilling the order.

  • Design the steps in the supply chain — from the customer and back — to deliver a seamless CX. Match solutions to customer expectations, remembering to capitalize on business moments that arise along the way.

  • Go beyond basic fulfillment metrics to include experiential and verbatim data. Design and collect data consistently across customers so that you can aggregate it and look at trends.

Related Research

Beyond the Perfect Order: Measuring the Customer Experience of Your Supply Chain : Companies are moving beyond the perfect order, combining qualitative and quantitative metrics to better understand and measure what customers value, and to drive the right supply chain response. Benefits can range from cost reductions to increased profitability and customer loyalty.

Create a Service Mindset Within Your Supply Chain to Enhance the Customer Experience : CEOs focus on driving growth and improving the CX. Supply chain leaders can support these goals by making customer service a business priority across the supply chain. Use this research to create a customer service mindset within your team to improve service and enhance the CX.

How Supply Chain Can Drive Better Customer Experiences : For supply chain leaders, understanding the needs of your customers is about more than demand management. It's increasingly also about knowing how the supply chain impacts the overall CX. If it chooses to engage, supply chain has the capability to promote and implement collaborative processes that can improve the overall CX.

Supply Chain Brief: Customer Experience and Supply Chain Customer Service — What's the
Difference and Why It Matters : Gaining a better understanding of the CX is taking on greater importance as a corporate strategy. Supply chain leaders responsible for customer service must understand what CX means and the role of customer service in delivering the broader corporate agenda.

Maximize Supplier Participation in Digital Initiatives by Including Supplier Experience in Program Design : A positive supplier experience is key for multienterprise B2B initiatives, such as order management, e-sourcing, e-invoicing and supplier registration. This research outlines what application leaders for buying organizations can do to maximize engagement, improve supplier relations and deliver ROI.

The Future of Experience for Technology Providers

Disruptive technology, such as bots and wearables, will enhance and become integral parts of day-to-day customer, employee and other users' experiences. AI, in particular, is becoming an important investment strategy for large tech vendors and is a key theme of technology startups in 2017.

Strategic planners are rapidly investing in these areas to ensure they can offer the intelligent and seamless experiences to which users will become more accustomed. In a recent Gartner survey, 84% of buying enterprises said they expect to increase their CX technology investments as a whole in 2017.

Over the coming years, there will be a huge shift in how we communicate and interact with people, places and brands. Interactions with wearables or IoT endpoints in smart environments will increasingly be driven by no-screen UIs and aided by VPAs. Strategic planners are shifting to a multimodal design by incorporating support for face/gesture/motion/emotion/object recognition and AR/VR to create superior experiences.

A future customer purchase may be initiated through a voice command, continued through experiencing the product or solution via mixed reality, and finished using a combination of voice command and biometrics — all without touching a keyboard. Or, further in the future, our personal bots may initiate (predictively or not) the purchase for us and do a bot-to-bot (machine-to-machine) purchase, requiring no human intervention in the process.

There are, however, more pressing issues for technology provider enterprises wanting to succeed in sales, marketing and brand management over the coming one to two years. Providing a superior CX requires the ability to create excellent customer journeys from pre- to postsales and beyond. Therefore, technology and service providers need to focus on how to convert a marketing-only initiative into a CX initiative that involves members of different departments. This requires new communication channels between departments and business units, and the use of currently siloed customer data to create coherent customer journeys.

Apart from gathering and cross-pollinating customer databases, enterprises are also looking into how to use customer analytics in more predictive and prescriptive ways. To support CX initiatives, enterprises are increasingly investing in customer analytics tools. In the same Gartner Research Circle survey mentioned previously, 41% of respondents said they expect their enterprise to increase investments in customer analytics during 2017 — higher than any other technology type. This all points to great opportunities for those technology providers that can deliver what buyers are seeking.

Technology and service provider leaders focused on improving the customer experience should:

  • Work with the CX leadership to ensure a coordinated approach that takes the form of a strategic, rather than a fragmented and siloed, approach.

  • Leverage the most impactful technologies and invest in customer analytics.

  • Design the future CX with a focus on multimodal input/output and Generation Z.

Related Research

Predicts 2017: Enhance the TSP Customer Experience : AI, bots and VPAs will enhance and become integral parts of our future day-to-day CX. Technology strategic planners need to rapidly invest in these areas to make sure they are ready to offer the smart, intelligent and seamless experiences users will become more accustomed to.

Market Insight: The Future Personal Technology Buying Experience Will Change : Wider product alternatives, growing product complexities and rising buyer expectations will tarnish consumer buying experiences in the future. Technology product marketing leaders need to create innovative future buying experiences to outsell their competition.

Market Trends: Analytics Lead the Shift From Tactical to Strategic Approaches in Customer Experience Innovation : Personalizing CXs across multiple channels is a technology-intensive activity that increasingly demands a cross-organizational, strategic approach. Technology product marketing leaders can leverage their organization's data assets to help deliver more intelligent CXs.

Tech Go-to-Market: Make Customer Success a Cornerstone of Your Customer Experience Strategy : For greater business impact, technology business unit leaders should use a customer success function as the driver to improve CX. Take four foundational steps to build a process and culture of continuous improvement of the CX based on measuring effectiveness.

Strategic Considerations on Zero-Touch UI Design for a Superior Customer Experience : Interactions with wearables or IoT endpoints in smart environments, such as the connected home, car or smart workplaces, will be increasingly driven by no-screen UIs and aided by VPAs. Technology strategic planners must shift to a multimodal design approach to create a superior CX.

Enhance the Technology and Service Provider Customer Experience Primer for 2017 : Cutting-edge trends and innovative approaches can support CX efforts. Our research guides technology product marketing leaders, technology product management leaders and technology strategic planners on how to innovate, personalize and enhance the TSP customer experience.

Understand Gartner's Customer Life Cycle Model to Drive Business Growth : In order to build a better CX — which results in customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty — application leaders must understand Gartner's new customer life cycle model and its subcycles, activity streams and underlying elements.

Improve Customer Experience for Wearables With Artificial Intelligence : Wearable devices with AI-driven commands will be used as interfaces to VPAs. Technology product management leaders can use natural-language speech and other AI capabilities to deliver more value and the best CXs on headsets and smartwatches.

Tech Go-to-Market: Enterprise Technology Customers Want the 'After-Sales' Experience Before They Buy : Technology product marketing leaders want to paint their products and services in the most positive light. But enterprise buyers want reality. By helping prospects experience what it will be like to be a customer, technology product marketing leaders can help their companies win more deals.

Market Trends: Human-Machine Interactions — Role of Voice Across Devices and Ways to Enhance Customer Experience : Voice will play a growing role in interactions across devices in the next two years. This research offers insights about challenges, opportunities, and how technology product management leaders should strategize, design and implement them using voice to enhance the CX.

The Future of Employee Experience

Compared to other domains in this special report, employee experience is the least mature in terms of market understanding and adoption. It is rare in Gartner inquiries to find examples of leaders, such as those as in BNY Mellon, whose role is to ensure improvements in employee experience. When Gartner does encounter such leaders, they often sit in IT, with responsibilities involving productivity and collaboration tools. They struggle to connect with HR application leaders who are generally more focused on implementing HR programs and measuring employee engagement.

Application leaders responsible for HR transformation are just beginning to adapt some of the more mature CX techniques and methods to the notion of employee experience. But Gartner believes that, by 2022, enterprises that make sustained investments in employee experience will achieve a 10% improvement in employee engagement scores.

The majority of HR application leaders are highly proficient in measuring and reporting on a standard set of employee engagement drivers, built up over decades of industrial and organizational psychology research. However, improving employee experience requires a more holistic view that takes into account the whole of an individual worker's experience, including their interactions with external stakeholders, building location and layout, and systems and tools, as well as their health, well-being and family responsibilities outside of the work environment.

This broader approach is not yet a common one for HR leaders to pursue. According to CEB research, the vast majority of chief HR officers (CHROs) measure and track engagement, but only 12% have gone beyond the traditional survey to use further data sources to measure broader sentiment.

Gartner anticipates much broader adoption of the following techniques and practices:

  • Design techniques that make use of persona profiles and detailed employee journey maps.

  • Voice-of-the-employee techniques to collect feedback, measure employee sentiment and perceptions continuously through multiple channels, and rapidly respond to the feedback.

  • Personalization techniques to adapt human capital management (HCM) applications and systems to the preferences of different "persona" profiles.

These techniques can be applied to processes, policies, systems, applications, workspaces and organizational designs. By adopting these techniques, employee experience designers will be able to identify which types of interactions bring a positive, fulfilling feeling, thus leading to higher engagement and more-effective work. They will also be able to identify interactions that cause an accumulation of frustration and other negative feelings that lead to burn-out, lowered productivity, disengagement and poor worker morale.

Application leaders focused on HCM transformation and the digital workplace should:

  • Study the approaches already being taken to improve CX and apply them to the employee experience.

  • Adopt and promote employee experience design techniques to transform the employee experience for optimum business outcomes.

Related Research

Designing for 'Employee Experience' Will Increase Engagement and Business Impact of IT Projects : Ignoring the employee experience weakens the impact of critical IT projects on business outcomes by alienating employees. Application leaders focused on the digital workplace should increasingly include employee experience design in technology planning and actively partner with HR for this initiative.

Apply Voice-of-the-Customer Best Practices to Voice-of-the-Employee Initiatives : Within the digital workplace, the voice of the employee (VoE) concept is gaining traction as a way to consolidate worker feedback and take action. IT leaders transforming HCM should apply key voice of the customer (VoC) best practices to a VoE initiative.

Create a Catalog of Activity-Based Spaces in the Digital Workplace to Improve the Employee Experience : Physical workspaces play a critical role in improving the employee experience. Therefore, application leaders should continuously work with facilities managers to deliver the right mix of space types.

Digital Personalization Improves Learner Experience : Before investing in learning technologies, application leaders in HRIT need to understand the important role that personalization will play in driving learner engagement and business benefits.

Three Ways HCM Technology Providers Can Thrive or Fail in the Digital Business Era : The evolution of digital business redefines all areas of HCM to achieve greater agility, personalization and data-driven decision making. Technology business unit leaders at HCM technology providers must revisit their human, technology and business capabilities to ensure sustainability.

HCM Technology Is Paramount for Successful Diversity and Inclusion Interventions : Realizing the business benefits of diversity and inclusion (D&I) requires a top-down approach of structured interventions to establish data-driven decision making and mitigate the effect of bias. HRIT application leaders must make D&I enablement a key component of their HCM technology strategy.

Employee Wellness: What You Need to Know Before Planning : Employee wellness, both in terms of stand-alone applications and wider strategies, is often misunderstood. In this research, we dispel some myths and present recommendations to application leaders responsible for transforming HCM who are considering an employee wellness strategy.

The Future of User Experience

Enterprises are maturing in how they view user experience (UX). This is apparent in the shift from a focus on technology and practices to a focus on enterprise and culture. Enterprises are still struggling to build an organizational structure capable of delivering consistently good UX. That's because digital design capabilities are commonly stretched over too many projects, and design is commonly treated more as an additive pursuit rather than the transformative practice that it is. As enterprises continue to mature, we will see more centers of excellence for digital design — and a further shift toward transforming the development process.

At the same time, the UIs of websites, and mobile and web apps are being standardized. Various mobile bank apps, corporate websites or e-commerce websites are increasingly starting to look similar. Design languages, such as Bootstrap, IBM Design Language and Google's Material Design, add to this conformity. This conformity also shapes user expectations, often leading to negative reactions when a design looks different.

One might think that conformity in UIs would lessen the need for designers, yet the opposite is happening. The practices themselves are moving from being about creating the UI, to finding out what will be in the UI in the first place — from design execution to design thinking.

At Gartner, we still see a lot of outsourced UX efforts. In these instances, agencies, consultancies or service integrators supply the design talent, methodology and experience necessary for delivering UX. However, since UX plays such an important role in any digitalization strategy, we see many industries — especially the ones that are furthest along in digitalization — building up substantial internal capabilities. In some cases, we have seen traditional enterprises in traditional industries buy outright highly rated UX agencies. The most talked about has been Capital One's acquisition of Adaptive Path, an agency that, at the time of acquisition, was one of the most highly regarded UX agencies in the world.

IT leaders focused on improving UX should:

  • Create an internal center of excellence for digital design to lead the effort in growing UX capabilities and culture.

  • Embrace UX as a transformative practice, consequently changing development from a business requirement viewed as an engineering effort, to a designer-led, digital-design effort.

  • Align your UX strategy with your digitalization strategy, and with the stage of digitalization within your industry. If there is a significant gap between current and wanted capabilities, take action to close the gap.

Related Research

Defining a Good User Experience With the Gartner User Experience Model : By mapping out the eight UX perspectives, application leaders can more easily understand the differences and align design to the perspectives.

How to Build a User Experience Team : Many organizations make the mistake of assigning one person the task of creating the ideal UX. Application leaders must realize that they need to build a team whose members have skills in six key areas.

Take a Human-Centered Approach to Digital Design : Traditional design methodologies don't get to the heart of what customers want. What's needed is a new approach. Using human-centered design allows application leaders to gain a deep understanding of customers and partners as individuals. That knowledge is the key to creating innovations that meet their real needs, and that are designed from their perspective.

Define and Prioritize the User Experience to Succeed With VDI and DaaS : When adopting virtual desktop infrastructures or desktop as a service, infrastructure and operations leaders need to prioritize the UX. The PC "experience gap" is closing and can be overcome; however, organizations must optimize the UX to attract and delight their users.

Public-Sector CIOs Must Seize the Opportunity to Establish Digital Design Capability : New methods of creating UX offer public sector CIOs the opportunity to get politicians and department heads to understand the importance of experience in delivering information and services.

How Banking CIOs Can Steer Their Organizations' Digital Design Strategies : In the digital era, banks can no longer create a process and expect customers to use it. Instead, it's imperative that CIOs in the banking industry lead their institutions toward creating a satisfying UX that is driven by customer needs and desires. Creating design teams to differentiate UX is the key to retaining and adding customers.

Business Alignment Will Need to Be Redefined to Deliver Successful Digital Experiences : Delivering digital business and digital workplace value requires CIOs to lead a reorientation of what it means to be successfully aligned with the business. Feature requests should be viewed as evidence of what is needed, rather than the thing that is needed. That allows the design team to address the underlying wants to create a UX that resonates.

Related Priorities

Table 1.   Related Priorities

Priority

Focus

Negotiating Software and Cloud Contracts

Evaluating and negotiating software license agreements and cloud contracts lets organizations acquire software that delivers business outcomes, mitigates compliance risks and cuts costs.

Application Strategy and Governance

The application strategy and governance initiative encompasses key disciplines that must be embraced as organizations evolve.

Digital Commerce Technologies

Organizations must develop digital commerce solutions that respond to dynamic markets and foster superior customer experiences by balancing foundational best practices and innovative technologies.

Mobile and Endpoint Strategies

Mobile and endpoint strategies research enables the creation of a digital workplace that supports organizations' transition to digital business.

Mobile Application Strategies

This research spans strategy, planning, platforms, architecture, process and management topics, supporting the development and delivery of mobile apps and digital interactions in the post-app era.

Analytics and BI Strategies

The focus of this initiative is on the strategies, practices, technologies and products needed to create business value.

Data and Analytics Programs

This agenda focuses on the need to exploit the convergence and intersection of data and analytics to gain greater business value from decision making across all business processes and outcomes.

Source: Gartner

Related Resources

Webinars

Roadmap to a Differentiated Digital Customer Experience

Establishing Your Digital Experience Platform

How to Bridge Engagement Silos to Improve Customer Experience

Channel Trends 2017: Three Activities to Focus On

Articles

Use Voice of Customer Data to Improve Customer Experience Analytics

The ABC Technologies Will Change Future Customer Experience

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