Predictions for 2017: Mobile Customer Experience, Automation, and More| By |Robi Ganguly

Last year, I made a few predictions for mobile in 2016. Mainly, I predicted that the app industry would evolve to embrace app indexing, streaming, and messaging with full force.

Looking back, 2016 was a big year for mobile and apps. I hit some predictions on the head and flat out missed other. You win some, you lose some!

Let’s review the full list of predictions to see how well I did.

Prediction #1: App indexing adoption will skyrocket

This was true, to a certain extent. In 2014, only 2-3% of people found apps via web search. That number jumped to 27% in 2016. Media companies definitely explored and adopted app indexing in a meaningful way, but other app categories have yet to catch up.

Prediction #2: The Apple TV will command the attention of app publishers

False. Unfortunately, I was just plain wrong. App publishers did not pay much attention to Apple TV in 2016.

Prediction #3: Mobile will usher in a connected world

True. There are a lot of international commercial companies that started off as mobile apps that stepped up their game in 2016. Apps like Flipkart, Paytm, Uber, Lyft, and Wish all started with apps, then moved into the web. Also, Amazon announced another big investment in India, so that has been monumental in terms of connecting the world.

Prediction #4: App streaming will be popular

False. A lot of people dipped their toes in the water, but we haven’t seen large-scale adoption yet. We started to see the use of content streaming via Facebook and Google, but people haven’t taken the next step for a lot of the use cases around streaming apps quite yet.

Prediction #5: Developers will internalize in-app messaging

True. Facebook Messenger bots exploded on the scene last year and we saw a huge increase in excitement from our customers (old and new) about our in-app messaging capabilities.

Prediction #6: Retailers will get more creative with app sensors

True. The number of retailers who have implemented mobile ordering, pay-and-pickup, in-app offers, geofencing, and location-based notifications have significantly increased across the board.

Prediction #7: The global customer experience gap will grow

True. People started to discuss and care more about customer experience in general last year. But in terms of the gap widening, a lot of it has to do with the haves and have-nots of connectivity. Speaking from personal travel experiences, when you compare the capabilities of premium devices on the marketing (iPhone 7 and Google Pixel, for example) with what’re you’re able to do in third world countries on 2G networks, the gap is huge.

Prediction #8: B2B companies will go mobile-first

True. If you’re in B2B and your site isn’t responsive, it’s game-over. More companies realized this is 2016, and got on board with being mobile-first.

All in all, 2016 brought us next-level mobile and app capabilities that we’ll continue to see adopted and improved upon. Did the majority of companies invest in bringing their mobile game up to speed? Certainly not. There’s a lot of room for growth in terms of mobile customer experiences, which is why I think 2017 will be the year of customer experience.

Looking ahead to 2017

This year, I came up with a new list of predictions. Based on conversations I’ve had with our customers, recent news, and our own data library, I’ve made four predictions on how technology will impact the business world over the next 365 days.

1. Investment in mobile customer experience (CX) will increase
In 2016, the customer experience gap grew. It’s expected that by 2020 customer experience will take the place of price and product as they key brand differentiator. As companies try to create a CX that sets them apart from the competition, 2017 is only going to see the CX trend continue.

Why? Because great customer experiences drive revenue and retention.

According to a Walker study, 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.

Customer experience on mobile will be of particular interest to companies this year. Mobile is arguably the centerpiece to all CX strategies, because it is where the customer journey starts.

In 2015, mobile overtook desktop for the most searches. And 65% of all digital media time is spent on mobile. So it makes sense that if customers have a bad mobile experience, 52% of them are less likely to engage with the company again.

Graph of searches performed on mobile versus desktop

Source: ComScore

This year, when companies talk about customer experience, they’ll ask “How do we surprise and delight our customers? How do we make sure that we’re providing a great customer experience?” In 2017, customer experience will move from a vague concept executives know they need to invest in to a top-line priority.

There are two specific ways companies will emphasize customer experience. The first is measurement. We’ll see more companies try to put an objective score on their CX across all of their channels instead of measuring CX in silos.

The second way companies will emphasize customer experience is in trying to proactively create great customer experiences. CX strategies will mature from discounts and heavy marketing to proactively identifying where there are gaps in the customer’s experience and how to fill them.

For example, companies will learn how to identify customers who have had sub-optimal experiences and proactively reach out to them to prevent churn and make the customer feel valued on a personal, individual level.

2. Companies will start experimenting with virtual reality
In 2016, augmented reality (AR) became mainstream thanks to apps like Pokémon GO. Pokémon GO—the most downloaded iOS app of 2016—proved that there’s a real hunger for AR.

VR is the natural next step. This year, we’ll see more companies experimenting with virtual reality (VR).

woman wearing a virtual reality headset

Source: Nerdsmagazine.com

Retailers will start testing how customers can try on clothes virtually without having to step foot in a store. Gaming companies will try to come up with fresh new ways to make their game more immersive. And media companies will use VR to make readers feel like they’re behind the scenes of an awards show or on the scene of a breaking news story.

3. Data and warehouses will be internalized
In 2017, more companies will invest in building their own data warehouses and staffing people to identify trends specific to their business. In particular, Fortune 500 companies are recognizing that a lot of their data is sitting in third-party systems and that they need to pull it in internally, regardless of vendor dependencies.

Datawarehouse

Source: ITProPortal

If the companies who use several vendors want to measure customer loyalty or retention, it’s very difficult since their data is spread out. Whereas, the companies that staff internal teams to collect data from all of the vendors and stitch it together gain a comprehensive picture of their business and their customers.

Big picture thinking is infinitely more difficult when you see your customers in fragments. Reducing offsite data will help executives make smarter decisions in all departments, because they’ll understand their customers on a holistic level.

4. Automation will take a front seat
Automation was on our radar in 2016 with the introduction of chatbots, but it will take a front seat in 2017. A lot of people have woken up to the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques. According to Forrester, Facebook had zero bots in February of 2016 and by July had managed to create 18,000.

The reason people are so excited about chatbots is because of the larger implications of what automation is able to do in terms of efficiency and productivity.

computer lock

Source: BMC.com

The excitement around chatbots indicates to me that there will be even more investment and experimentation with automation this year. Particularly because big gains can be made with automation in small ways. If you’re able to automate 5 percent of someone’s job by automatically calculating metrics, or churn, or what have you, then that person can spend more time doing high-value tasks.

Share your thoughts

Will my four predictions on how mobile will evolve in 2017 hold true? Only time will tell.

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts and predictions in the comments below, and stay tuned as we revisit each prediction in-depth in future posts.

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