Predictions for 2018 in Mobile: Blockchain, Customer Experience, and More
As we wrap up 2017 and kick off 2018, it’s natural to take stock of the year behind us and make some plans for the next. Each year, part of my process of doing so is to try and sort through large themes and predict what we’ll see a lot more of in the New Year.
Last year, I made a few predictions in 2017. Let’s see how each played out.
Prediction #1: Investment in mobile customer experience (CX) will increase
First, I predicted mobile was going to become the first real battleground for the #CustomerExperience professional. I believed as companies got more nervous about Amazon, they would understand and invest in people and solutions to their Customer Experience challenges, emphasizing mobile as it’s the the place people are spending the bulk of their time. I specifically laid out two components of this prediction: investing in measurement and getting proactive.
On this prediction, I’m going to say that it gets a lukewarm TRUE. While mobile customer experience became a core question many more companies worked to solve, they started with the simplest of investments. Primarily focused on getting feedback from customers, companies have yet to really nail down measurement and are still quite hesitant about being proactive. The tools necessary to interpret and report on customer feedback data are not broadly available or applicable.
Prediction #2: Companies will start experimenting with virtual reality
Second, I predicted companies will start experimenting with virtual reality. From gaming systems to retailers, I anticipated to see a lot more experiments broadly available to see the extent to which we can push our boundaries. In 2016, AR hit the scene in a meaningful way with the launch of Pokemon Go and I expected to see several big experiments around VR.
In this sense, I would score this prediction FALSE. While we saw several companies raise money and some big brands make bets on VR, perhaps the most moving use case was an eight minute documentary taking the participant through several years of imprisonment called “After Solitary.”
Prediction #3: Data and warehouses will be internalized
Third, I predicted data and warehouses will be internalized. This one was a definite TRUE statement.
The leading companies of the world are not building internal hardware-focused data warehouses, but are instead working with the leading cloud vendors to spin up centralized analysis and data pipelines that will help them achieve their goals. The thread of “we need to pull more of our data together and build data teams to create internal competitive advantage” is growing every day.
Prediction #4: Automation will take a front seat
Finally, I predicted automation would take a front seat, and in a very specific way, this is TRUE.
Although the implementation of automation is not yet fully upon us, as a conversation topic and area of programmatic research, there is a tidal wave of pent up dreaming that is being explored in code. From automating tasks related to customer service using chatbots to innovating around self-driving cars, automation wasn’t just a buzzword in 2017; it became an area of investment and hiring. Engineers around the world are increasing their skills with machine learning and working to apply their knowledge to broad and repeatable problems.
Predictions for 2018 in mobile
Let’s move on to the more interesting bits: what’s going to happen in 2018.
For 2018, I see four meaningful areas of interest that I think will change quite a bit over the next 12 months.
Prediction #1: Blockchain as it pertains to identity
This year we’ve heard a lot about “cryptocurrency” due to the rise in the prices of several currencies. The blockchain concept, however, is a much broader approach to solving ownership problems.
Source: Crypto News
In 2018, we’ll hear a lot more about companies offering identify solutions through the use of the blockchain, and we’ll likely hear about the potential privacy benefits, in particular. With privacy concern rising every year and more companies “losing” our data, the race to offer something more secure while enabling more personal data transactions is on.
I look forward to a lot of hype in this sector, but also believe that some of the underpinning identity technology infrastructure for the next 10 years is being built out now.
Prediction #2: Augmented reality (AR) instead of virtual reality (VR)
Although I was bullish on VR in 2017 and, I think, mostly wrong, what I learned was this: AR is where it’s at for most companies and consumers in the next few months.
The lower costs of adoption of AR experiences, combined with the low-hanging utility and fun from the technology, is leading a plethora of companies to innovate about how to help their customers have a better experience, augmented by their mobile phones. I anticipate a lot of pundits claiming that “AR has killed VR” (not fair or relevant) and seeing commercial applications of AR around shopping to really experience a lot of experimentation.
Prediction #3: The return of “customer experience”
The return of “customer experience” to the forefront as software companies large and small position their solutions as assisting in improving the customer experience, and every large national company espouses their efforts to be truly customer-centric. Amazon envy is inspiring a wave of “us too” leadership chants with the customer at the center of the universe.
Unfortunately for the companies who are really digging into the space and want to make changes, they’ll find that many vendors pitching “customer experience” solutions are packaging up data solutions or marketing campaign management tools that miss core requirements around reporting and taking action.
The emphasis on this area of opportunity will result in strong and long-lasting cultural shifts inside some committed companies and a meaningful amount of thrashing at those chasing the latest trends. If improving mobile customer experience in 2018 is not at the top of your to-do list, be prepared to fall behind, regardless of your industry. At Apptentive, mobile customer experience is our focus, and I encourage you to check out the free resources and best practices we offer to help get you started.
Prediction #4: Global Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) as discussion-driver
The EU’s Global Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) is set to go in effect in May 2018. This regulation won’t be a big “bang” in the sense of spurring a lot of litigation immediately. Rather, it is driving a mounting set of conversations about privacy and data storage that need to happen at an international level.
The largest companies in the world and, in particular, major Internet services, will have to lead the way on complying with GDPR and negotiating some of the less clear lines in the regulation having to do with storage and consent. The angst around complying with GDPR will be sufficient to scare many executives into investing more in the privacy and data offices.
The resulting fallout post the regulation going into effect will be meaningful in its delay of roadmaps, increases in regulatory review and a general cautious legal environment. GDPR is coming in 2018 but will likely have a very long trailing tail of an impact.
Share your thoughts
So, there you have the four major areas I think are going to change meaningfully in 2018.
What are your predictions? What do you disagree about? I’d love to discuss your thoughts in the comments below.