SAN FRANCISCO (THE FAST MODE) MAY 2, 2023 By: Iain Scholnick
The first three years of the decade have been nothing but turbulent on a global scale. The short-term impacts of the pandemic have become readily apparent as changes in the workforce and a rethink around the digitalization of every industry have rapidly kicked off.
From this, an ensuing wave has formed in the way that telecommunications and platform-based communications services have approached customer service offerings. Now, we look toward a vastly different landscape arriving at the end of the decade when the engagement layer connecting businesses both big and small with existing and potential customer bases looks as fluid as a conversation between best friends.
Mobile engagement will become the gold standard for service.
It seems that ever since Apple trademarked the statement “There’s an app for that” back in 2010, every industry from financial services to brick-and-mortar retail stores have wanted to develop an application to engage their customer on the mobile edge, resulting in a current tally of over 1.7 million apps on Apple’s App Store alone. As key factors to keeping a connection with customers from a hardware standpoint improve, such as battery life, internet connectivity and processing power, the capability to offer almost a tethered connection to customers through their mobile device becomes increasingly easy.
With technology now moving beyond the point of simply being mobile to being wearable through next-generation smartwatches that can track biometric and location information, the stream of data building out a customer’s profile for any application tied to it provides an exponential growth path for future upgrades. By the end of the decade, I believe that the mobile edge of customer engagement will be far less reliant on the manual input of consumers looking at their phones and more akin to Tony Stark’s relationship with his AI system, JARVIS, as virtual assistants become the go-between between the consumer and the engagement layers built by enterprises across any industry.
Customer experience will become the ultimate point of comparison.
The dot-com era of the ’90s was the first culling of the market for enterprises driven by the new revenue streams and engagement opportunities provided by the early days of the internet. But today, the ability to create a small business in the online space has become so accessible that it can take mere minutes for a brick-and-mortar business to set up a basic online presence.
Now that vendors have built tiered systems providing access to both budding small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and global enterprises, there are few technological barriers to entry that prevent a small business from competing against its industry leader. As such, the focus has shifted from what capabilities a business is able to offer, such as scheduling or online e-commerce options, to the quality of the customer experience that the business has been able to braid together.
By the end of the decade, SMBs that are able to perfect the customer experience for niche audiences may see their share of the market increase as customers enjoy the hyper-personalized experience offered to them. This is largely thanks to technology such as ChatGPT providing even greater capabilities for small businesses to enter the customizable marketplace of low-code technology.
Contextualized solutions will flourish.
In predicting which industries will be at their peak or base in 2030, I believe the tech solutions that will be thriving by that year will more be in the business of verticalized solutions rather than horizontal ones. Horizontal solutions such as Zoom saw a massive leap in business at the start of the decade with the onset of Covid-19, as businesses needed to digitally transform their collaborative efforts in a hurry. Now that the global workforce has settled somewhat into the norm of hybrid and remote workforces, the need for digital solutions that allow businesses to connect with their customers and employees is clearly visible for the long-term future.
It’s true that horizontal solutions may currently lead a number of technological markets. However, vertical solutions tend to offer a more niche experience to businesses, providing features that make operations in their specific industry easier without needing add-ons that a horizontal provider might require to amplify the capabilities of their platform in a given industry.
Are you looking toward the future?
Although the past three years have proven that there’s no guaranteed version of the future that business leaders can invest in, there are certain trending principles guiding the current innovations around customer engagement at the digital edge that won’t soon fade into the background. As new technology and vendors arrive on the market, business leaders should be keen to keep in mind what the customer of today will expect the businesses of tomorrow to look like before signing on the dotted line.
Digital solutions are in the early stages of a massive boom, the results of which will not be felt until likely the end of the decade. But those who can start laying out a strategic plan to build the best next-generational customer experience may see a leap from SMB to global enterprise in a shorter than anticipated time.
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