Digital Disruption in the Customer Experience

I have recently been blogging about a few of my expectations for the forthcoming Engage Customer summit this week (Nov 26) in London, including the future of customer service and some of the key trends that will define 2016. However, I saw an Ovum report titled “Digital Economy 2025: The Future of Broadband” that takes these ideas even further.

I often read these end-of-year reports about the future of customer service where the author just lists a lot of new technologies, such as apps or virtual reality. They rarely give any insight into how customer behaviour is actually changing and this is important because it is people who change the way that processes and technology will be used.

The difference with this Ovum report is that they are exploring what underpins customer behaviour – the digital society. Steven Hartley, Ovum’s Practice Leader for Service Provider & Markets (and author of the research), says that two key drivers will dictate the extent to which technology and commercial change will impact organisations today:

  • the rate at which disruptive technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, analytics and artificial intelligence are adopted, and
  • the degree to which that adoption will disrupt the status quo of today’s ecosystems.

Naturally if these disruptive technologies are adopted, as analysts predict, then there is also a need for better connectivity. With many areas still struggling to offer 3G connectivity all these technologies cannot be universally used without an improvement in the access to connectivity that underpins all these services.

Mobile access to the Internet is a good example of how rapidly change can take place. The mobile industry body, the GSA, has published data showing that 588 3G networks exist today around the world, supporting over 2bn users. In addition, 4G is rolling out fast with networks in 181 countries and 755 active users.

As Ovum suggests, it is essential to look beyond the immediate change we see in the customer experience – such as the adoption of new channels – and to consider what happens when digital disruption from better analytics, Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is commonplace. It’s not far away according to some industry leaders. At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the president of Samsung UK, Andy Griffiths, talked about the possibilities: 

“Of course, you should reasonably expect to be able to use all your products in your home to talk to each other, whatever brand they are, that’s the only way to truly keep it simple and allow the internet of things to be adopted both quickly and across the masses. We believe we can lead that and get a big slice of the action.”

Griffiths added: “90 per cent of all Samsung’s devices, all our TVs and mobile phones, will be part of our internet of things strategy by 2017, and everything will be by 2020.”

Everything. Every single product ready for the IoT by 2017.

I like to think of technologies such as the IoT in ways that describe real scenarios for customers, rather than just as technological solutions. My favourite IoT idea is how cars will be able to self-diagnose problems if every component is networked. The central controlling computer inside a vehicle will be able to communicate with the factory, send diagnostics, and potentially repair a system without the customer even knowing there was a problem.

This kind of scenario requires the brand to understand how to manage customer interactions, but in this case it is the product not the customer that is interacting. I think this will become increasingly common, but it depends on some of these digital disruptions going mainstream.

I am sure that many of these ideas will be discussed on Thursday at the Engage Customer Summit. I hope to see you there, but if I miss you then leave a comment here or get in touch direct via my LinkedIn.

Tesla Sightings// by Steve Jurvetson licensed under Creative Commons.

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1 Response to Digital Disruption in the Customer Experience

  1. That is a really good point Alistair – the Internet of Things opens up new opportunities for customer engagement and improved service, but only if it is adopted by mainstream consumers, which means making it simple and easy to use. A great example is French electrical retailer Darty, which has created an IoT-enabled ‘panic button’ that consumers can use to get instant support on all of their electrical products, day or night. The key point is that the products can be from any brand – and don’t have to been purchased from Darty themselves. You can read more here

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