I always enjoy watching what get’s published by analysts, consultants, and industry watchers in December and January. It seems like everyone is prognosticating about what they expect to happen in the year ahead. A few are even brave enough to examine and evaluate their predictions from the previous year before laying out their forecasts for the coming year.
But most these forecasts are written like horoscopes – no matter who you are, what your professional role is, how large of a company you are in, or even what country you are located in, they are so general and vague that they can be interpreted as matching your situation.
So instead of trying to predict the future in an evolving era of true conversational give and take, I am going to instead layout some trends that I am going to watching and researching in 2011. As a backdrop for this, I am focusing for 2011 on two primary research areas – digital experience and digital public sector – though I will also continue to look at other areas like strategy and risk in a social world and what is happening in heavily regulated industries.
The New Digital Experience
As new technologies and applications come out, the nature of the what the experience is, how companies and consumers engage, and the resulting relationship is shifting. Experience has moved beyond the user interface into the systems, processes, and even organizational layouts that support the interaction. Four trends that I will be watching in 2011 are:
- Evolution Of Customer Engagement Management Systems. Customer experience used to be the exclusive area of designers and like mined individuals when companies paid attention to it at all. And customer engagement used to be the exclusive domain of marketing. This trend looks at how these two aspects are growing closer and closer together and the resulting new technologies called Customer Experience/Engagement Management (CEM) systems that are clearly designed to support this integration. Some key questions include what is the difference between experience and engagement, can one company actually own the CEM systems space or is it going to be an ecosystem of technologies, and what are the components of a CEM?
- Integration Of Social Into The Customer Experience. Many companies talk about providing a cross-channel experience, but a true cross channel experience is more then just putting a Facebook and Twitter button on your home page. This trend focuses on how companies integrate the information and relationships that come from social into the systems and processes behind the Web page will be key. Some key questions include what is the right way to integrate social into the customer experience, the social ecosystem continues to evolve so how do companies keep up, and in the eyes of a consumer what is the equivalent experience between a Web page and a social channel?
- Rise Of Permissioned Privacy. This trend is about watching the tug of war going on between the desire for privacy with the desire for increased personalization and engagement. More and more digital B2C and P2P relationships are based on permissioned privacy – where one side (usually the consumer) has the ability to determine how much the other side can know about them. Simply watching what happened with Facebook last year makes this trend hard to ignore. Some key questions include does increased personalization equal decreased privacy, how do both consumers and companies balance privacy with the desire/need for data, and what are the inherent risks for both consumers and companies?
- Role Of Data In Customer Experience. Everyone likes and understands an experience that is useful, usable, and enjoyable. But more and more companies are looking at adding an analytical component to the customer experience. After all each interaction has the potential to generate loads of data around the experience, the level of engagement, and the value of that engagement. The trend going forward revolves around the marriage of analytics with the customer experience. Some key questions include what is the role of data, analytics, and customer intelligence in customer experience?
Digital Public Sector
I come from a public sector background and continue to be fascinated by how technology is changing the public sector – from politics to government to nonprofits. Two trends I will be watching and focusing on in 2011 are:
- Digital Government. I have a confession – I dislike the term Gov 2.0. It reeks of marketing and social, inherently ignoring the significant shifts going on in government. I think Digital Government better encompasses what forward looking government agencies are doing – looking at a large number of technologies from Google Apps to Facebook to others that have the potential to make government both more efficient and more effective. This trend focuses on how technology is changing the aspects of the government organization and the nature of governmental relationship. Some key questions include will technology really change the nature of the relationship between government and governed, how will technology change government organizations, and what do citizens want from a digital government?
- Technology Driven Nonprofit. I really like Beth Kanter and Allison Fine’s term from their book the Networked Nonprofit – it is a great summary of what adoption of social media is doing to nonprofits. But there is more then just social media affecting nonprofits. The very nature of what a nonprofit is and how it operates is changing, being molded by technology. Some of the key questions here are what constitutes a digital nonprofit, can technology driven nonprofits expect the same outcomes as traditional nonprofits, and how to balance the digital presence with the brick and mortar presence.
The Bottom Line. These are the tends that I am following and researching in 2011. What else should I be looking at? Either submit a comment below or send me an email. Thank you!