Consumers’ expectations of companies are higher than ever before. In particular, they now demand a tailored experience that is personalized to their wants and needs, whether it is in a physical store or online. For example, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history.
This shift to personalization is largely the result of retail giants such as Amazon, which have raised the bar on catering to consumers. Companies are now having to think about how they create a consumer experience that sets them apart in a highly competitive marketplace.
You may be wondering how heightened consumer expectations relate to trends shaping the enterprise technology world in the coming year. Consumers demands are already affecting every company in the supply chain that serves consumers — from the industrial manufacturer to the logistics company. And 2018 is going to be the year the enterprise starts feeling this in a big way.
Whether they want to or not, businesses have to think about how they leverage technology to keep up with an ever-more-demanding consumer. The good news is that technology advancements in 2018 will be more readily available to meet this shift. Here are a few areas that will make a big impact in the coming year and help companies navigate this era of personalization.
A more significant move to the cloud
In 2018, we will see many companies move key business processes to the cloud – getting their data strategy in place, and creating an ecosystem that lends itself to modifying operations, without going through heavy customization of systems. The business intelligence that will be gained through the vast amounts of data that can be synthesized and analyzed through the cloud will propel innovation that companies will need to keep up.
AI comes to fruition for the enterprise
Greater cloud adoption will enable a proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) uses. The cloud packs the compute power and vast amounts of data required by AI, so we will see more enterprise adoption of AI-enabled capabilities than ever before. AI will help companies strike the tough balance between what customers are going to want and the choices companies offer. Increasing options for consumers inherently drives more inventory carrying costs for companies. Machine learning allows businesses to crunch vast amounts of data and predict inventory needs, leading to more effective forecasting that saves on costs while allowing the level of flexibility consumers now expect.
Digitized logistics and the connected experience chain
As cloud adoption and the use of AI become more commonplace for the enterprise, companies will be able to create a supply chain that not only gets customers the items they want more efficiently, but can also shape a more customized experience for shoppers. For example, some shoe companies already allow consumers to order customized sneakers where they pick everything from the color of the laces to the material of the soles, within a seven-day delivery window. To provide this level of personalization, the company needs visibility across the entire supply chain – from the customer interaction, to the first- and second-tier manufacturers, to the shipping container that transports the finished shoes from one country to another. In 2018, companies will have no choice but to transform their supply chains, or risk losing customers who can go elsewhere to get exactly what they want.
Customer expectations are increasing, and 2018 will be the year where those demands fully reach the enterprise. Thankfully companies now have powerful tools they can implement today to help them meet this shift.