2018 Perspectives

At this time each year, we like to carve out a few minutes to reflect on the past year and imagine the possibilities for the year ahead.  2017 was anything but boring. In the forefront was a challenging and divisive political climate that spilled into a very ugly look into some disgusting company behavior.  Big names in technology and business were impacted by horrendous acts and financial cover-ups.   

With all the negativity in the news and constant reminders of all the wrong in the world, it could be challenging to stay focused on what was happening from a business and technology perspective.  However, there were some common themes that resonated with our customers: 

Marrying the Customer Experience with Personalization 

Last year was really about enablement and helping customers utilize the full capabilities of their Digital Experience Platforms. Over the year we have seen a lot of people start to think deeper into the “experience” piece of this puzzle.  Companies are starting to realize their customer doesn’t have an experience just with the website but often interact through phone, email and even a brick and mortar store (think store pickup) all in one transaction.  The key to making sure this work is really how businesses plan and build their customer experience (CX).   

Along the lines with customer experience, businesses are also trying to understand how they can have deeper conversations with their customer and really hone in on things that each of their customers want to see, hear and purchase.  Personalization is a huge piece of the customer experience workflow and is further enabled by technology that is able to capture these deep customer insights and make informed decisions based on those insights. 

The Amazon Effect Continues 

The Amazon experience has preconditioned us to expect real-time updates, hassle free customer service and to loathe waiting for anything.  We have seen our customers go to great lengths to add workflow and real-time messaging to their processes in order to compete and stay relevant.  We now have greater visibility into a wide variety of processes from tracking your physical credit card as it was being made, near instant images of packages being delivered or customer service chat bots that can answer most basic questions eliminating frustrating hold times.  

The digital age is upon us and our expectations keep changing. Even internal business customers are asking their development teams to deploy new features as soon as they are tested and provide similar experiences for internal processes as those we expect for end consumers.   We even catch ourselves tracking the PrimeNow driver for items we need but certainly aren’t urgent.  In 2018 the race to keep innovating the customer experience while driving waste and costs out of the process will dominate. 

Data Causes Disruption, But Only with Sound Practices 

In 2018, the wide gap between the “data haves” and the “data have-nots” will begin to shrink as those companies who have not invested in a sound data infrastructure will tackle the foundational aspects of data management and lay the ground work for machine learning, predictive analytics and other modern data capabilities. More and more, the ability of data to drive business value is becoming understood, and is no longer reserved for edge cases and proof of concepts.  

Nearly every industry disruption is a result of using the same old data in new and innovative ways, and marrying that data with modern technologies. With poor data practices, come a lack of capability that is increasingly hard to account for in 2017. In 2018, the focus on the business user as a data-literate driver of innovation will be the focus of many organizations by investing in tools like Tableau and Power BI. Businesses will realize those tools work best when the underlying data is well understood, well governed, of high quality and integrated with enriched data sets. 

More Automation Than Ever Before 

Like most years before it, 2017 continued to show tremendous growth and evolution in technology and we shouldn’t expect anything less for 2018. The proliferation of AI, VR, voice assistants and other current trends will continue to take shape as prices drop reducing the barrier of entry for many consumers. Apple is entering the home voice assistant space, while Amazon drops pricing on their devices to remain the leader of home help. Microsoft’s mixed reality gains popularity while TESLA gave us a glimpse of automated vehicles.  All of these trends will start to have real and meaningful impact on business. While the trail blazers continue to prove what’s possible we’ll also start to see many companies finally make their final moves to get out of the DataCenter business and move to the cloud in record numbers.   

Blockchain’s True Impact 

In business, blockchain has been creeping in a lot of conversations through the last two quarters of 2017 and is on the precipice of making an even larger impact for 2018.  As business learns more about the technology and how it can be used as part of application and IT Infrastructure we will only see adoption grow.  We expect to see blockchain securing some of our most important practices like electronic voting, banking and more in the foreseeable future. 

What would you add to our list?  Happy New Year from all of us at UDig, wishing everyone a successful 2018!