Thursday, August 22, 2019

Customer experience is about to undergo a significant transformation

I've been writing lately about the intersection of innovation and digital transformation, first because it is a very current topic and second because there are fascinating possibilities as innovation and digital transformation collide.  Increasingly, new product development is being digitized (that it, it is becoming an increasingly digital experience with generative design) and new product development must incorporate digital capabilities - sensors, data, communications.  Soon all products will be smart products.  But I digress.

The real point I wanted to write about today is that while all of this new innovation and digital transformation is occurring, it is very easy to get caught up in the technology and emerging capabilities and miss what is probably the most important focal point of your work - as an innovator or as a person focused on digital transformation.  Do you call someone working in digital transformation a digital transformer?

The important focal point - the thing that should be paramount in your thinking is:  how does this improve customer experience?  Customer experience and how customers engage and interact with your solutions is becoming the most important factor in product design, development and innovation.  Digital transformation is simply accelerating this change.

Why is customer experience paramount?

It's similar to the Maslow's hierarchy of needs.  Once a specific set of needs has been relatively well provided for, you move to a higher and often more esoteric set of needs.  Once shelter and food are reasonably well provided for, you move on to well being and happiness as an example.  The same is true for products and services.

Once a product has the appropriate features and capabilities, you move into a new state:  does this product or service enhance my experience?  take for example two competing products, both of which have the same list of features. The first device is much easier to use, integrates into the way you live and work and seamlessly interacts with other devices.  The other is more difficult to use, doesn't integrate and doesn't interact or play well with other devices.  The customer experience of the first device makes it much more attractive than the second device, even though they both have the same capabilities and features.  All things being equal, most people will choose the first device.  That's because the basic needs are satisfied and now customer experience,usability and design matter more.

Why is this accelerated by digital transformation?

I'll argue that we are at peak or perhaps even beyond peak product design.  For years we celebrated individuals who designed products.  Jony Ive was a well-known figure from Apple because of his designs.  However, the value from products and services is increasingly in the data and connectivity, so improving the experience from a digital perspective is increasingly more important than the physical design - it does not lessen the demand for good physical design, just shifts focus.

Digital transformation allows innovators and digital transformers to create new experiences from digitally connected devices, adding value with data and experiences like augmented reality, voice control and other factors.  Don't be fooled though, simply adding more data or more digital features isn't going to win.  Good design and customer experience at the digital level matters a lot, since the vast majority of consumers aren't digital natives.  However, we can expect a lot more focus on customer experience, regardless of the type and nature of the offering or solution.

CX and UX in demand

What we can anticipate is that individuals who understand customer experience and usability will be in great demand, especially those who understand the importance of usability and experience in an increasingly digital product offering.  Understanding that people want access to data and information, but on their terms, that is easy to use and easy to understand and augments or enhances a physical product or experience is vital.

This poses an interesting predicament - we have been focusing on developing data scientists, who understand the data, but have we spent as much time developing data experience professionals, who understand how to make the experience of data and digitally enhanced products effective?  Of course the science leads the experience - it's that way with every new technology advancement.  How quickly do we catch up with digital experience?

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posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 7:12 AM


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