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Customer Experience: The Year That Was, The Year That Will Be

iStock_000021779385Medium.jpgWelcome to December and the onslaught of New Year's predictions. I'm going to add my two cents to the fray, identifying five trends in the customer experience realm with roots in 2013 that I predict will grow next year.

People predicted everything from “big data breakthroughs” to “the rise of storytelling” for 2013. Even ExactTarget got into the game, publishing its “25 Inspired Predictions” — which didn't include predicting its acquisition by SalesForce.com in June.

2013 set the stage for upcoming years, whether it was the “recovery year” some called it or a transition year. In looking back specifically through the lens of customer experience, it looks like a little of both. The energy is high moving into 2014 — and things across the globe are moving to accelerated growth.

So in that spirit, I offer five trends that started this year — but will really take off in 2014.

1. Experience Driven Commerce

While creating content driven experiences remains a hot topic, there’s no hotter sector than the e-commerce application of compelling experiences. The combination of web content management (WCM) and content display technologies matched with e-commerce solutions are allowing companies to create extraordinary platforms for driving beautiful, compelling and engaging experiences. As was pointed out on industry site Internet Retailer recently second-gen or e-commerce 2.0 companies such as Fab and Warby Parker are making waves with sites that focus on new business models, branding, design and product. By combining WCM and e-commerce, these companies are creating more compelling experiences for their shoppers.

2. Smart Data Instead of Big Data

It’s safe to say that “big data” hype continued in 2013.  The topic was top of mind at almost every single conference this year. But the reality seems to be that most businesses are achieving value out of smart usage of the data they have. Some, like Digital Clarity Group analyst Allen Bonde, have taken to calling this “small data.” In an article written for DMNews last month, Allen wrote that a “small data approach can be truly transformative and help marketers gain control over their data assets, use practical data-driven marketing, and tap the power of self-service apps and delivery models.

We think this trend of using data to gain insight into consumer experiences will accelerate in 2014 —we like to think of it as “smarter data.” We wrote a longer piece on this topic for CMSWire back in September.

3. The Increasing Need for Real Time Content

The term “real time marketing” also got its fair share of buzz in 2013. But when you start peeling back the layers of the reality behind the hype, what it really requires is a new look at content — and how quickly an organization can react to what’s going on in the news.

The poster-child for this opportunity was Oreo’s “dunking in the dark” effort during the Super Bowl last year. Businesses have started adopting content strategies to handle situations like this. Marketing thought leader Jay Baer recently blogged about how companies are now creating “buzz wedge” content — which is when a company tries to capitalize on a news item with a story or social post.

The key here is the processes, people and technology that help a company to do this. Development of this capability will be a key trend in 2014.

4. Hybrid Models of Software Delivery

The concept of the cloud really took wing in 2013. It was suddenly “hip” to have everything in the cloud. The popularity of solutions like Evernote, Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive and other “consumer cloud” based services has increased the trust businesses have for these online solutions.

 

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