This is a guest blog written by Dan Gordon, SVP Strategy & Development, West Interactive Services.
The answer is: Probably not just yet.
At CRS Phoenix back in February, I spoke about how crucial it is to leverage data to optimize your customer experience. Now, as certain emerging technologies begin to pique our interest, I’m expanding on that point to hopefully help some enterprises avoid putting the cart before the horse.
The smartphone is one of the greatest technological advances in human history – and its impact on what brands have had to consider in their customer experience (CX) strategies over the past five to 10 years is just the beginning.
Data continues to transform how humans interact as the lines blur between virtual and physical… device and appendage… human and machine.
The mix of physical devices, buildings and various technologies at the public’s disposal is poised to evolve and extend rapidly through 2021[i], and Gartner believes that data generated from the networking of these devices will create $14.4 trillion in value for organizations between now and 2022.[ii]
Many believe that advanced smart machine technology will become a staple in this shift. Brands trying to keep up with the demands of today’s mobile customer are at full attention.
A smart machine is a device that is equipped to make decisions and solve problems in a human-like manner (think self-driving cars). Relying on data and metadata, or “the information of everything,” smart machines are expected to drive a higher level of quality and consistency in everyday customer interactions by relying on neural networks that dissect things like text, images and voice — all without human intervention.
Unsurprisingly, their potential impact is creating major buzz among technology providers and enterprises in every industry. Companies are left wondering what the rise of smart machines will mean for their long-term CX strategies, and how to stay ahead of their customers and competition as developments unfold.
I’d recommend that most brands don’t overhaul their existing priorities just yet. Instead, stay focused on their current objectives and keep riding the wave.
In a CX industry where scalable ecosystems for communication are quickly becoming table stakes, differentiation now teeters upon instilling this ecosystem with business analytics to truly understand, and ultimately prescribe and execute the best course of action in any given customer interaction.
As an organization and its customer experience matures, specific hardware and software become far less important than the data that supports and is generated by said technology and the people using it.
This starts with establishing a connected ecosystem and everything that enables it, including organizational structure and streamlined processes, robust data, and consistent metrics. Incorporating the next hot machines should come further down the road.
Once operating with a fully connected ecosystem, what’s in it is relatively irrelevant compared to the customer experience it generates with the help of an ever-growing network of data within and surrounding it. Furthermore, while today’s smart machines have perceptive capabilities, they rely solely on rule-based approaches — absent of decision-making patterns of their own.[iii] Although smart machines’ potential is seemingly limitless, it’s impossible to anticipate the impact they will have on things like users’ attention spans, situational behavior, conventional expectations, workforce engagement, regulatory and security risks, and so on.
Keeping a watchful eye on the evolution of smart machines is a must. But it’s more important for companies to first focus on the factors they can control now, and show judicious patience.
By learning from the data currently at their disposal, and leveraging it to thoughtfully, and gradually, develop a more mature customer experience, brands will be poised to act if and when the time is right. Data, after all, will be the beating heart for any and all smart machine to come.
We look forward to connecting with many of you at CRS Austin later this month. We’re privileged to sponsor cocktail hour yet again, and invite you to join us for a drink at 6:30 p.m. on Monday. See you there!
[i] Clearly, David W., Brian Blau, Brian Burke and Mike J. Walker. Gartner. “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2016: The Device Mesh. 26 February 2016. 3.
[ii] Walker, Mike J., David W. Clearly and Brian Burke. Gartner. “Top 10 Technology Trends for 2016: Information of Everything.” 26 February 2016. 2
[iii] Austin, Tom. Gartner. “Smart Machines See Major Breakthroughs After Decades of Failure.” 8 September 2015. Overview