It doesn’t seem that long ago that 2020 predictions seemed far off. Now, with 2020 just on the horizon, IT leaders are being urged to put unified communications and collaboration at the centre of their strategic plans.
That was the message from tech researchers and analysts, who gathered in Barcelona earlier this month at the Gartner IT Symposium to share the latest information and technology trends and best practice.
The number one topic on the minds of some 6,700 attendees was “building and expanding a digital business,” where the impact of digital on customers and staff dominated both one-to-one and keynote session topics.
As digital continues to disrupt traditional business models, the most important business-to-consumer trend Gartner highlighted in its opening keynote was the advent of what it calls, “The Everything Customer”.
“Domino’s offers 15 ways to order a pizza, which includes everything from emojis to smart TVs, and interact with the Everything Customer,” said Ed Gabrys, Gartner Senior Director Analyst.
“So meet them where they are,” he added, “where experience is key.” Customer engagement, according to Gabrys, is multi-experience, with technology enabling interaction at every touchpoint and with any device.
Delegates agreed that good communications and collaboration capabilities will be a critical differentiator for those looking to successfully meet these heightened and digitally enabled consumer expectations.
John Finch, RingCentral Senior Vice President, highlighted how the effects of proliferating digital touchpoints can be challenging when it requires the management of multiple customer IDs across service channels.
“Businesses need a single, unified communications platform that can manage them all, including any new digital channel” he said. “Intelligent routing of interactions to the most relevant agent will be essential.”
Consolidating digital activity both online and in-store into a single customer view (SCV) was also the message I shared on behalf of RingCentral from the book I recently co-authored with Tesco’s former deputy CEO.
Omnichannel Retail: How to build winning stores in a digital world brings the best customer data-driven practices established with the launch of Clubcard and updates them for today’s Everything Customer.
The retail session focused on how Big Data analytics, cloud and mobile were the foundational technologies required to identify who a business’s best customers are and why they shop, to give more of what they want.
Communications systems that are capable of integrating with a unified commerce proposition to enable a SCV, irrespective of the sales or service touchpoint, is what will distinguish the winners from the losers in future.
Looking ahead, Daryl Plummer, Gartner Distinguished Vice President Analyst, identified technology tactics shaping business strategy as a key trend when he revealed the top strategic predictions for 2020 and beyond.
Those most relevant to retail predict that:
By 2024, the World Health Organization will identify online shopping as an addictive disorder. Retail can learn from financial services to better understand behaviour and use data analytics to identify high-risk customers.
By 2024, AI identification of emotions will influence more than half of the online advertisements you see. Establishing a single customer view will be essential to deliver more timely and personalised communications.
By 2023, individual activities will be tracked digitally by an “Internet of Behaviour” to influence benefit and service eligibility for 40% of people worldwide. Smart devices will quickly outnumber people.
This will challenge customer service channels as they must extend, not only to meet the Everything Customer wherever they are, but to also deliver the ongoing services they access via the ‘smart’ products they will buy.
By 2023, a self-regulating association for oversight of AI and machine learning designers will be established in at least four of the G7 countries. Increased reliance on AI will directly influence communications development.
Through 2021, digital transformation initiatives will take large traditional enterprises on average twice as long and cost twice as much as anticipated. Organisations must redouble their transformation efforts now.
So, it will be vital to apply cloud, mobile and AI technology development to retail service and communications strategies in order to win customers with more digitally enabled and data-driven engagement.