Forrester recently held their 2017 Digital Transformation conference in Chicago and Liferay was there to hear from companies around the world who are embracing digital transformation, as well as to provide some insight of our own.

Businesses everywhere are in the process of embracing digital transformation. However, many are looking to the future and the continuing changes it may bring to their industries. Forrester analysts and business representatives from all manner of industries provided insight into continuing digital business developments and what they may mean for every company in the years to come.

The following three predictions for the future of business are rooted in advancements happening today and will be essential in how businesses are run in the future. By better understanding what these mean and applying them to your digital business strategies, your company can be better prepared for future success.

1. Every Online Company is Now Your Competition in Customer Experience

Customer expectation concerning digital experiences with any company are not only increasing at an exponential rate, but also across industries. For example, the attention to detail and personalized customer service provided by Amazon sets a new standard for all online experiences, whether or not your company has anything in common with Amazon.

Companies across all industries are creating new ways of reaching their target audiences through omnichannel strategies, which, in turn, increase customer experience (CX) expectations. Forrester analyst Brian Hopkins applied Moore’s Law of accelerating returns to the continued advancement of customer expectations. As customer experience continues to improve, customer expectations increase, necessitating improved CX and in turn producing exponential behaviors. While that may seem like a difficult goal to meet, it means that companies should seek out ways to constantly improve CX and never rest on their laurels.

With shorter attention spans and ever-increasing expectations for online experiences, companies must create personalized online experiences. This is done by collecting and using customer data to predict needs and quickly provide answers or products for customers in a natural, friction-free manner. This data can be consistently leveraged to improve CX and keep up with expectations in the years to come.

2. Business Success Will Depend on Digital Transformation More Than Ever

Businesses used to be able to create a lengthy, detailed road map concerning their plans for many years into the future. But the future of business is becoming more and more difficult to predict due to the ever-increasing speed at which customer behavior and digital transformation evolves.

As such, Forrester researchers emphasized that it is crucial to be prepared for unpredictable and sudden changes. In addition, analysts discussed how any company could be only one to two years away from closing due to the fast pace of changing customer demands. Digital transformation is not the end goal, it is the ability to be prepared for a future of constant change because it allows for speed in adapting and offering new services. In recent years, numerous businesses have found profits quickly and suddenly shrinking when they don’t quickly respond to changes in their industries or new demands from customers.

Those ideas may cause some businesses to fear future developments, but this should instead be seen as further incentive to embrace new technologies and evolve your company. As recently discussed in a Wall Street Journal interview with Millard Drexler, chairman of J. Crew Group, Inc., the speed of change in retail and more industries is faster than ever and has caught many off guard.

As discussed by Eric Person, CIO of InterContinental Hotels Group, at Digital Transformation 2017, business competition has radically shifted in recent years. “It’s no longer the big beating the small, but the fast beating the slow.” Be fast in how you react to changing trends and how you meet customer needs, and you will begin to see positive reactions from your target audience.

Liferay digital transformation presentation visual notes

Forrester's visual session notes on Liferay's presentation at Digital Transformation 2017

3. AI Needs to Move Past User Prompts Before It Becomes Essential

Artificial intelligence, including its usage in chatbots, voice technology and data aggregation, was touched on again and again throughout Digital Transformation 2017. While AI has been the subject of discussion and speculation in the tech industry for decades, new advancements have made AI a more relevant topic than ever.

Modern AI technology is being developed to enhance human capabilities, such as improving data collection and analytics or providing fast answers to users’ everyday questions. However, before AI is demanded by both companies and customers, it must become an essential part of day-to-day activities. And to become essential, AI needs to predict user needs and take actions without being prompted by a user.

Currently, digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa are activated by users voicing their needs, which are then translated by the assistant through accessing an app and then turned into actions taken by the assistant, such as providing weather forecasts. In the near future, users will voice their needs and AI will take immediate action through complete integration with apps. Forrester’s report, The Future of Digital Experience, predicts that eventually, AI will be able to take actions without users having to voice their needs thanks to in-depth data collection and the ability to predict those needs, such as automatically adjusting home air conditioning for someone coming home from a workout.

Until AI can quickly act without being prompted, it will not be essential, as it can be viewed as some form of inconvenience by users. However, AI is slowly but surely moving toward being an important part of everyday life and companies looking to stay ahead of trends would be well advised to consider how AI can be part of their digital strategy now and in the future.

Stay Ahead of Digital Transformation Trends

Whether you are currently pursuing digital transformation or are still considering what path is right for your brand, it is crucial that you make the most of the opportunities ahead of you. Learn more about digital transformation strategies and what may be right for you.

Read Four Strategies to Transform Your Customer Experience  
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