In 2018, Experience Management (XM) arrived. Customer centricity is now a long-term, strategic imperative at the executive level. With one successful IPO, one mega acquisition and accelerating consolidation, 2019 will see the Data Management Platforms (DMPs) take over as the sources of truth in the enterprise.
That takeover will drive significant change across corporate structure, technology and data workflows.
For customer experience professionals – those activating the insights customers offer – the winners will be those who earn the right to work inside the system of record’s firewall, engaging the right customers to share data and opinions that can build upon what’s already known by the enterprise.
It’s that simple.
As this becomes reality, four corporate behaviors will become prominent.
Companies will reorganize around the customer
It’s already happening, of course. We see cross-functional teams coming together to form an “enterprise perspective” on gathering customer insight, knowledge and feedback. But in 2019 and beyond, this behavior manifests itself in larger, multi-year commitments to derive massive value from putting people, processes and tech all against a common goal - improved business outcomes based on organization-wide customer-centricity.
Consider The Wall Street Journal’s report, Management Top 250, an annual report of companies that excel across a number of categories. All found success by focusing primarily on customer-centricity. Ranjay Gulati, a Harvard Business School professor, added that, “companies that are more customer-centric innovate in more powerful ways, leading to more engaged employees and strong financial performance.” That’s how executives are measured.
Insights will get married into systems of record
Insights will only scale – delivering their maximum value – if they can add value to the system of record. Otherwise, they’ll be left out of the engines that seek competitive advantages that can be leveraged through products, communications and experiences. In the year ahead, stand-alone insights will decrease in value as fast as the traditional market research firms have lost their enterprise value in the public markets. PowerPoint won’t die, but we will begin to accept that more insights are stale by the time a slide is produced.
Innovation will become repeatable
Deriving value from large DMPs means that processes must be repeatable for companies and the partners they work with. Everything from customer engagement models to data collection processes must be able to be done, easily, day-in and day-out. Yet being innovative and scalable has always been a problem for insights and customer engagement platforms. That paradox will be overcome by the most progressive, innovative people in our industry. It’s a great opportunity.
Companies will control the insight process
At a functional level, a company can’t embed repeatable insights into a system of record or rely on continuous, real-time outputs from it unless those data and systems are self-managed. Further, executives know that a business can’t successfully outsource building upon an existing internal source of truth. And finally, trends in privacy and security will require trusted insights professionals to work inside the firewall. Ultimately, these factors mean that more insights professionals will either join highly trusted advisory firms (who already are approved to work with an organization’s sensitive data) or move to the customer-side in order to continue their work.
Of course, that means that new skills will be demanded of insights professionals. Again, a massive opportunity. Systems of record will use artificial intelligence (AI) to evaluate the quality of data coming in. The considerations around quality will shift from the method to the source - a natural, but potentially challenging professional opportunity for many of us.
Enterprise leaders are realizing that the value they get out of customer insight is directly related to infusing those insights into the core of their business - their system of record. Without a doubt, this is a threat to the way insights have been gathered and leveraged for decades, but it is an amazing opportunity for the professionals who seek to put the voice of the customer prominently in the decision making that organizations make every day.
We wish you all great success in seizing this opportunity in 2019.