Top 10 trends in digital experiencesMorten Eriksen on
The most profound developments that will influence the world of digital experiences and web content management in the near future.
Digital experiences are the colloquial term for websites, apps and other digital channels all working together to deliver the best possible user experience for the consumer. Familiar concepts like content management systems (CMS), web content management (WCM), and digital marketing suites all congregate into a holistic software package usually called “digital experience platform”, or DXP.
As you can imagine, this is an exciting world of emerging technologies, innovative ways of thinking and a fresh approach to managing, delivering, optimising, and analysing experiences across every digital touchpoint. Let’s take a peek at what’s in store for us in this complex arena of digital experience trends.
1. Content is still king
As Perficient points out, content is still king—and in our opinion it always will be. Technology can be a tremendous help in delivering the right content to the right person at the right time and so forth, but technology itself isn’t meaningful for human beings in this context.
Thus, technology can function as the vessel of great content, and it is content as such that we consume. It is content that informs us, entertains us, makes us cheerful, makes us morose, or gives us profound new insight and knowledge. This is what drives business or any undertaking, and technology can be a tremendous aid in its delivery, but it cannot substitute content itself.
So keep up brainstorming and planning great content for every customer, client and user your organisation attempts to reach.
Omnichannel is a term designating a cross-channel business model and content strategy that organisations use to improve their user experience—fomenting an orchestrated cooperation between different channels to leverage the engagement of the users. Omnichannel includes channels such as physical locations, ecommerce, mobile applications, and social media, and Prana Business Consulting has dubbed it “the new normal” for 2018.
The rise of so-called smart technology, i.e. appliances connected to the internet—like cars, refrigerators, watches, televisions, etc., has given marketers an entire new playing field to reach potential customers. The synergy promised by the omnichannel approach is something any future-proof digital experience should take into account.
3. Digital business
Now, there has been several years since organisations primarily relied on typewriters, physical folders, and pneumatic tubes. The pervasive influx of digital technology into every nook and cranny of absolutely every existing organisations would make you think that digital technology is now being used optimally. Think again.
CMSWire claims that digitalisation happened so rapidly that many organisations never managed to tie all their departments together in a meaningful way, leaving data scattered in internal silos. Connected data can provide your organisation with extremely valuable insights into potential synergy effects and efficiency, and adopting data-connecting digital experience tools and APIs for internal use is key to reach this tangible goal.
4. Cloud platforms and microservices
Although cloud platforms and microservices are nothing new, the technologies will however continue to gain traction and momentum in the coming years. ComputerWeekly wrote back in 2015 that a microservice architecture “promotes developing and deploying applications composed of independent, autonomous, modular, self-contained units”, which is fundamentally different from the way traditional applications are handled.
Digital experience platforms that are prepared for the future of digital technology and marketing have already “moved to the cloud” and “distributed computing”, so to speak. And more will tag along eventually, because who will risk missing the benefits of increased safety, flexibility and scaling?
5. Business intelligence
Business intelligence (BI) might sound like a fuzzy term, but Gartner defines it as “the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimise decisions and performance.” These practices may include data mining, predictive and prescriptive analysis, and benchmarking—technologies and functions that aid organisations into making the most of its collected data.
Knowing what works and what you should do in the future is a valuable feature, and by integrating BI tools with your DXP, you can achieve just that. Being able to walk up to your superior and requesting more funding for a given marketing project was probably a long shot in the past, but with the backing of hard, solid data you have a much better case.
6. Big data
As we spend more and more hours each day on the internet, the content producers deliver more and more bytes of data—essentially flooding the web with so much content that no one will ever be able to even consume a tiny fraction of it. And you leave digital traces as well, and these will in turn flood the various analytics tools with enormous amounts of data. With so much big data, how do you make sense of it all?
Vendors scramble to provide digital experiences that not only cater to the consumers’ wishes, but also does it in an exceedingly delightful and predictive way—e.g. providing you exactly what you searched for in a matter of seconds. But this is not always the case, and big data management systems often must balance between real-time results and the most accurate results in their search engines. CMSWire suggests having a balance between accurate and fast search results, which means that any future-oriented DXP should take this to heart in order to make sense of all the so-called big data.
7. Analytical skills
Writing beautiful, poetic copy or creating jaw-dropping visuals for a brand has been the hallmark of the marketing department for decades. But with the introduction of big data and analytics into the marketing game things are about to change.
IDC predicts that 85% of new technical hires in the world of digital experience will require analytical skills and knowledge. Closely related to several of the other trends, this movement towards analytics, business intelligence, and big data is certainly no fad.
8. AI and cognitive
This is a big one. In Adobe’s 2018 Digital Trends Survey, artificial intelligence (AI) emerges as an exciting newcomer among the respondents, with twice as many top-performing organisations reporting that they will use AI for marketing purposes, and 31% planning to invest in AI in the next 12 months.
AI and cognitive computing include a vast array of different technologies, including machine learning, natural language processing, speech and object recognition, reasoning, and narrative generation. What this means for your digital experience is many things, but among the chief keywords are: chatbots, personalisation, behaviour pattern recognition, marketing automation, customer service automation, predictive marketing, predictive content management, and so on.
The use of voice in search has exploded, with up to 25% of searches online now being powered by your mouth instead of your fingers, according to HubSpot. CMSWire writes that although voice is definitely here to stay, with speech-friendly appliances like Google Home and Amazon Echo in your living room, the dominance in digital experience user interfaces is still to come—but it is coming.
When designing your digital experiences keep in mind the future onset of voice-based searching from your customers and clients. Design your content structure to be easily adaptive towards new behaviour patterns and digital touchpoints—e.g. design your system to cater for both text and voice inputs in different contexts, like one content for “McDonald’s London locations”, and another for “where is the nearest Mickey D’s in Southwark?”, respectively.
10. Trust and privacy
Have you had enough of GDPR yet? Like it or not, privacy concerns are here to stay—particularly due to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and the real threat of cyber crimes and data breaches. This is especially relevant when thinking about the influx of big data into the digital experience game.
Some say that data is the currency of the digital age, so be sure to handle it with care. Enabling your digital experiences to be compliant with the strict regulations may be a hassle, but it may also leverage your organisation as a trusted brand among your potential customers and clients. Every department in your organisation will be affected by the stricter privacy laws, from lead generation and sales funnel to job applications and employee databases. Setting up a neat and tidy system to collect and manage personal data is a sure set method of being future-proof for your digital experiences.
The world of digital experiences is a shifting one, but there are also constants. For instance, people always want convenience and great content, no matter what technologies and trends should surface. However, staying up-to-date is important, as you wouldn’t risk being left in the dust cloud when all your competitors have raced along in their modern digital experience vehicles.