2021 was a continuation of an extraordinary time. While the pandemic continued with cycles, waves and variants, businesses and individuals have adjusted and continued to move ahead as best they could. In this blog post, I reflect on the year past and make some predictions about 2022.
Longing for Human Touch
Many have cited the acceleration of digital transformations as a positive for society as a whole, with our online lives taking a larger portion of the day to day. But, people are also eager to get back to physically interacting. At a conference I keynoted recently people were very happy to have in-person meetings and discussions.
While digital channels will be strengthened and improved, human connection will be more important than ever. Many orgs will overshoot the mark and rely too much on automation. Others will strike the right balance with deeper human connection enabled by technology and digital channels.
Paying Down Technical Debt
Another interesting trend is the doubling down on paying technical debt.
Technical debt is a concept in software development that reflects the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy (limited) solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer.
A great deal of technical debt was incurred in the rush to enable remote work and virtual learning, including deployment of tools and technologies at record speed. Compressing time to deployment by necessity means that shortcuts had to be taken. And taking shortcuts means paying a steeper cost in the future. That debt, just like the debt many folks incur during the holiday season, needs to be paid down.
Here are some other areas where I predict we will see more focus and attention:
First Party Customer Data - Increasing focus on building first party data – this means capturing the data exhaust from marketing technologies by building a consistent data model representing the customer across systems.
Data Driven Decisions - Further emphasis on data driven decision making – organizations are talking the talk about being “data driven” – they have to start walking the walk – doing the blocking and tackling of execution.
AI Data Infrastructure - Investing in the foundation of AI data infrastructure – there has been extensive experimentation and PoC development using AI and machine learning. 2022 will see more focus on scaling from PoC and Pilots to Production.
Dynamic product catalogs tailored to personas, customer context and journeys – Product data models and architecture with enabling technology will make static catalogs a thing of the past – especially for large diversified industrial businesses. This is already true in retail – industrial and B2B will begin to catch up.
Use of Knowledge Engineering – Bots, Virtual Assistants and Conversational Commerce will increasingly use a structured, componentized knowledge architecture to make bots more scalable, portable and reusable. Organizations will confront the fact that cognitive AI is a large scale information management problem and requires appropriate approaches.
Component Content enters the mainstream and gets out of the tech docs silo - Pursuant to the need for knowledge engineering, componentized content will find greater utility across the enterprise. Organizations that do not extend this capability will find themselves caught flat footed as the competition outperforms them in the marketplace. One large tech org is saving hundreds of millions of dollars per year in content operations costs by syndicating content to channel partners, web properties, mobile devices, customer self-service, call centers, even embedded content in physical products with a publish once, consume everywhere approach without using armies of content operations staff.
Increase in Maturity to enable personalization through orchestration – pulling all of the pieces together of customer data, high fidelity journey models, richly attributed product data, componentized content and KPI instrumentation along the customer journey to enable data driven decision making will make true personalization at scale a reality for a few enterprises who have mastered the foundation.
Increased emphasis on the boring bits - The vendor hype cycle has run its course for many enterprises. Now is the time to get back to the basics.
EIS can help you get a handle on where things stand with our 2 – 4 week current state readiness assessments for:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Knowledge Management
- Product Data
- Customer Analytics
Contact us to schedule a conversation so you can get your 2022 off on a solid footing.