As 2015 draws to a close, it’s time to look ahead to the trends to watch out for in 2016. The way businesses work and think will be deeply impacted by changes in technology (and the use of technology) in a variety of areas, and we’re expecting to see the following topics in particular dominate conversation:
Forrester has stated that we’re living in an ‘Age of the Customer’, and it’s difficult to disagree with this analysis. It’s also a situation that’s not set to change any time soon; on the contrary, we predict a continued focus here that will see more in-depth preference mining in order to deliver ever-more personalised experiences. There will also likely be a rise in the use of Customer Experience (CX) and alignment maps as an User Experience (UX) deliverable to help identify CX and/or UX opportunities, priorities and strategy.
We expect to see on-going adoption of material design as a (marginally) richer alternative to flat design, which has a somewhat homogenous feel. Websites and apps will look noticeably different from last year, but there will continue to be a great deal of similarity in design across the board. We will also see a greater focus on those UX differentiators that transform online experiences from ‘good’ to ‘great’; these include paying attention to micro-interactions, introducing ‘delighters’ and re-humanising the customer experience.
As mobile becomes ever-more ubiquitous, and hybrid apps grow in popularity, the importance of omni-channel engagement can only increase. This is true not just for customers, but employees too – and no matter who your messages are aimed at, consistency across channels (and platforms) will of course be crucial.
We predict that wearables will become increasingly cross-functional, such as fitness-based technologies that are also applicable to the mainstream medical/healthcare industries; helping improve the quality of care at minimal cost. And as the wearable/IoT space continues to expand, attention will need to be paid to ‘physical meets digital’ design considerations.
From business process automation through to machine learning, automation will continue to be a hot topic in 2016 and beyond, with much discussion as to how automated technologies can drive cost savings and efficiencies while still improving the speed of customer communications and, therefore, customer experience.
An increased focus on real-time information will drive dynamic pricing models across subscription-based businesses.
There is a strong feeling that focus on security is only going to grow as we go into 2016. The activities mentioned above will undoubtedly result in more and more personal data being stored, raising concerns about data security: what is stored where, by whom and how. As a result, the security of systems architectures will also play a bigger role in discussions, and we will likely see high-data customers start by paying for added security layers that seek to be invisible to customers. However, there is an inevitability that this will become another commoditised layer as levels of sophistication increase.
And of course we suspect that fintech (and ‘everything else tech’) will feature prominently in 2016 too.