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Five Key Digital Trends to Drive Customer Loyalty and the Tech Trends That Will Help Execute Those Strategies

The buying journey is more complex than ever, forcing companies of all kinds to rapidly adopt digital strategies that utilize emerging technology trends to meet customers on their own terms.

February 20, 2020 7 minute read

Organizations of all kinds — from B2B and B2C to B2B2C and every other market acronym with a 2 in it — are quickly taking the consumer mindsets they utilize in their everyday lives and deploying them in their places of business. 

Whereas the buying journey used to be straightforward and rigid. Today’s buying journey is exponentially more dynamic with customers demanding a level of speed, personalization and tact. In turn, this is forcing businesses to rapidly adopt emerging digital trends that enable them to approach customers on their terms. 

As the name might imply, these digital trends often rely on technology — not only to deliver the customer experience but to enhance and accelerate it. Another word for this is digital transformation — you may have heard about this buzzword a time or two.

And while it’s easy to understand the concept of digital transformation and the outcomes it can deliver, digital transformation is inherently complex and can be overwhelming if not well thought out and implemented. 

In fact, there is a void between strategy and execution that causes many digital transformation efforts to stall or fail completely. Sometimes business leaders need ideas on how to spark such change. Other executives need help with executing on those plans. Oftentimes, companies need both.

With all this in mind, we offer five key business-led digital trends that can increase customer loyalty and five technology trends that can enable them.

Digital Trends

Yesterday’s focus on omnichannel cohesiveness has evolved into today’s focus on per channel purposefulness. 

Consistency of experience is critical, but the right approach for the right channel is important, too.

A purposeful approach can lead to greater brand equity, which leads to a more effective brand that can drive more precise marketing tactics to enhance customer capture, influence and, ultimately, boost loyalty and revenue.

Business priorities focused on data capture and consolidation are now relying on automation, activation and acceleration of user experiences. 

Maturing brands still have a long way to go on the consolidation of meaningful data from product, sales, customer, etc. But those who have figured that out are now working towards a way to automate those cohorts of data into real-time mechanisms that trigger personalized messages, promotions or alerts based on this central data construct. 

The outcome leads to a more personalized experience for the customer, increasing targeted buying triggers and a lift in revenue.

Customer experience transformation has exposed the desperate need for employee experience transformation.

The more energy businesses and brands have aligned toward developing smarter, more predictive and purposeful customer experiences, the more it has confounded employees. 

Today’s most innovative companies are enhancing the employee experience too, empowering them to deliver great customer experiences in turn. Simplifying the employee experience can increase productivity, reducing burnout and increasing retention.

Build or buy? The answer is both.

For upstart, smaller companies where the ownership of technology is cost prohibitive, a platform based, managed service model will continue to be a good kickstart. But at some level of critical mass, the brand will need to have more ownership over the experience.

The ability to refactor costs from an OPEX model to a CAPEX model will be important and can provide flexibility as companies evolve. Consultative assessments that help identify the right financial, operational models will help reduce risk and lead to a stronger, more customized experience.

Digital Dominance is a Global Pursuit.

Global experiences need to be technologically unified, but also market focused. 

They need to look, feel and behave differently on a market-by-market basis while at the same time providing the company with global visibility and cohesiveness with a seamless technological backend.

It’s not easy — and data and security requirements present their own set of challenges. But doing so can help capitalize costs provide personalized experiences that help with revenue and customer capture.

Technology Trends

Cloud is a given.

Cloud-native applications provide unprecedented business value and enable rapid innovation, but developers must always consider how apps will work in a distributed environment. 

Adopting a cloud-native practice requires organizations to rethink years of process, practices and technology.  And understanding and harnessing cloud-native technologies enables businesses to build and run software in today's fast paced global market.

No app stands alone.

Every application needs to connect in order to have value. 

“Stand-alone applications” that perform a specific function are a relic of the past. To enable employees and customers, applications need to reach out beyond their own borders to legacy internal systems and data, or to commercial application frameworks such as Salesforce or Mulesoft. 

It’s not just limited to software: with hardware now generating metrics and sensor data, more and more useful applications need to be tapping into the Internet of Things.

This translates into longer development cycles and the need for more testing and resiliency. Integration adds complexity and points of failure. Developers now need to account for connections going down, data being corrupted or out of date, and performance under load of dependent systems.

Hybrid mobile applications cut down on duplication.

The ecosystem of mobile devices and platforms is growing more complex, making the task of writing an app increasingly daunting. 

Hybrid app development enables a “write once, deploy to all” model that avoids maintaining duplicate mobile apps, which can help organizations save time and money in the development process while enhancing scalability moving forward. Hybrid frameworks were formerly just glorified mobile web browsers, but newer offerings such as Flutter and React Native allow native compilation and access directly to the sensors and capabilities of the latest devices even while maintaining one code base.

DevOps turns into DevSecOps.

DevOps brought operations into the development process. We must now make security a first-class consideration, too. Applications are being deployed faster and with more frequency, and there needs to be an urgency to build with the necessary security. It’s no longer acceptable to wait until the features are complete to start thinking about security, especially if those features require authentication or access the public Internet.

Deploying application services in a simplistic manner and empowering the network and security teams to develop the software necessary to build these elements enhances efficiency and establishes a more aligned process between developers and operations. 

Balancing cost vs. quality.

No one wants an application that doesn’t work, but the tradeoffs between cost and quality change based on the situation.

Organizations must consider desired longevity of the application, the level of pain tolerance for non-critical issues, and when to transition to maintenance mode, contractors or offshore help. Being able to tune development processes to focus on speed and cost and suboptimize quality where it doesn’t add value is a tricky proposition. Finding the right balance, however, allows modern organizations to respond to the market and stay ahead of the competition.

Strategy and implementation

Our chief technology officer, Mike Taylor, recently penned an article focused on WWT’s ability to bridge the gap between strategy and execution, which so often gets in the way of digital transformation. 

He outlines four key principles of a transformation strategy that could, for instance, help put the above digital and technological trends into practice, and ultimately business success. 

  1. Start with the end in mind. Every transformation project is different and, therefore, every transformation project requires a customized, outcome-based approach.
  2. Build a team of teams. Transformational projects require not just the right people, but the right mix of people.
  3. Agile delivery. Define objectives, but not the way in which to get there to enhance flexibility in how value is delivered.
  4. Digitize the Advanced Technology Center. WWT’s ATC platform helps de-risk transformative initiatives and affords our customers an opportunity to continuously learn from and alongside our experts through ongoing training and enablement.
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