2018’s first month has passed and the storm of blogs predicting the latest trends has slowly subsided. The yearly recurring overload of buzzwords should be no surprise to any marketer. Yes, you need these buzzwords as it’s a shared language and promotes searchability online. Nevertheless, many of these buzzwords are hollow terms with a broad coverage, consequently, not applicable to this year.
Therefore, in this blog we’ll explain these buzzwords by connecting them to prevailing challenges in companies, creating a clearer picture of its usability and actionability. These won’t be the shiny next things, but trends that companies only now feel obliged to adopt. This latency is due to the fact that only companies feel the need to shine the spotlight internally and optimize their own structure and culture in order to create opportunities to adopt these trends.
Moreover, the concepts elaborated in this blog require an open company culture free of silo-mentality. This still is a difficult task for many but that’s where Oxyma is for to guide you through the process. So let’s cut to the chase: we mapped 4 prominent challenges that our industry is or will be facing in 2018.
1. Automated conversation management
The conversations between companies and consumers will be more and more automated on multiple areas. Voice, with its increasing commercial use by consumers, is a great example. 2018 is expected to be the year with the largest increase in sales of smart home devices with speakers, nearly doubling the sales figures of last year (see the figure below).
Last year, large consumer electronics firms have also shown their interest in the software running on such devices, by introducing new and improved voice assistants. All these assistants (e.g. Alexa and Google home) are now all competing to become the industry standard. They provide consumers with a new interface that enables communication between consumers and businesses. Moreover, assistants also go beyond traditional and physical channels that facilitate direct communication, as the assistant will now decide what the appropriate response is, instead of an employee.
While voice-enabled devices are definitely gaining terrain in households, actual large-scale business implications might sound more like a 2020 scenario. Nevertheless, the underlying technology is already applied on existing channels: chatbots. When chatbots are mentioned, many will think of a scenario where all human interaction is replaced by an automated counterpart. But in fact, the application is more nuanced. From a consumer perspective, chatbots can provide great service by immediately answering questions from customers.
2. Breaking the barriers
The dominant silo-mindset embedded in the core of a company culture, may cause the downfall of its productivity. More than 30 years this mindset has prevailed. Yet, the overflow of (big)-data is going to make it obsolete or at least impossible to work with. Yes, it's mentioned every year but It’s only now that consumers expect companies to use this big-data flow and turn it into an integral customer-centric approach. Therefore, you either break down the walls of your silos or fall behind.
In order to make the flow of data insightful and actionable, companies are adopting the concept of a multidisciplinary team. A skilled team comprised of complementary skills, knowledge and experiences, should transcend silos and department-specific KPI’s through which suboptimal decisions are eliminated. They collaborate based on shared topics, instead of their expertise. To measure the performance and impact of multidisciplinary, dashboards with product-, service- or consumer-related KPI’s are commonly used.
Moreover, design sprints, operate on the same principle of agile teams by which a prototype is created and tested in a limited amount of time.
3. Faster innovation cycles
Many corporates experience difficulties adapting rapidly to trends, impeded by its many legacies. Therefore, by the yearly predictions of trends it’ll take various years before sizable companies have caught up with it. It leaves a gap for niche markets and startups to fill due to its agility to adopt trends and steer their wheel in any direction they prefer. The increase in pilot studies carried out in corporate environments in a smaller and controlled setting allows the company to quickly set up, test and analyze the newly adopted innovation with minimal resources. Consequently, aiding companies in this process will increase the agility and flexibility of corporates to adopt trends or cede with minimal impact.
4. Real-time data
Delivering the most relevant and personalized content at the right time on the right platform is now more important than ever. At the very moment consumers engage with your brand, you’ll want to be able to provide them the next best offer or service by gathering right-at-that-moment customer data and context.
In order to meet these expectations and become more real-time, a transformation is taking effect in the design of systems. Our computers are increasingly designed to solve problems in an autonomous manner instead of performing predefined calculations. It allows us to better understand and answer the question “what does my customer want right now?” But in a more complex data landscape, it becomes harder to find the optimal answer to what the customer wants and see all the behavioral patterns.
This can be tackled by trusting our systems with more autonomy to find and predict these patterns and answers themselves. The embodiment of this problem-solving system is the self-improving Next Best Action/Activity (NBA) model. We are going to see a lot of implementations of such calculated suggestions a lot in marketing tools we currently use.
So what do you think? As addressed at the beginning, these are not shiny buzzwords but practical trends applicable this year due to prevailing challenges in companies. Share us your ideas!