CX trends: The rise of extreme automation, edge computing

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Retailers and business brand operators anticipate that by 2030, 69% of all decisions made during real-time consumer engagement across all channels will be made by smart machines.

Moreover, 86% of brands are moving computing to the edge, where they engage with the customer, to drive better real-time insights and decisions. This is according to the Experience 2030 survey, which was by conducted by Futurum Research in collaboration with business analytics software firm SAS.

Presenting the results of the ambitious year-long research at the SAS Analytics Experience 2019 event in Milan last week, Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research, said the objective was to understand how data and technology, coupled with the evolution of customer behaviour, will impact customer experience.

The survey posed 272 questions to 4 000 respondents from five major regions. SAS intends to intensify its focus on the use of analytics software and AI to enhance the customer experience, particularly in retail and finance sectors.

Newman said a key takeaway is that generally brands expectations and actual consumer behaviour are not aligned.

For example, 78% of brands believe consumers are uneasy dealing with technology in stores. Yet the study found that only 35% of consumers expressed this unease. This gap between the beliefs of brands and their consumers could be a limiting factor in these brands’ growth if they are not careful, the researches warns.

In fact, according to the survey results, consumers are expecting to further embrace new technologies by 2030: 80% say they expect to accept delivery of a product by drone or autonomous vehicle; 81% expect to engage with chatbots; and 78% expect to use an augmented, virtual or mixed reality app to see how a product will look.

“This was really interesting,” said Newman, "because many of us feel that ‘oh, we know what consumers want’... But in reality, there is quite a gap to bridge, and we need to build that [bridge] in order to get the consumers and the brands closer.”

Digital trust

Newman also stressed the importance of digital trust and impact of invasion of people’s privacy on the customer relationship.

According to the survey, 76% of consumers are concerned about the amount of data brands gather when they search for or purchase a product, and 61% feel they have no control over the level of privacy they need for themselves, their family or their children.

Closer to the edge

The research also found that 86% of brands are either in the process of or currently considering distributing computing to the edge in an effort to better engage with consumers.

“While a centralised, single source of record is essential, brands and consumers often engage at the edge, out of reach of the cloud. 

As technologies such as IoT and smart apps increasingly capture more data at the edge, it makes sense to leverage that data while its value is at its greatest, with summarised, processed, or post-engagement data being sent to the cloud for long-term analysis and distribution," the researchers wrote. 

Extreme automation

By 2030, the brands surveyed in the study see a massive shift toward the automation of customer engagements.

According to the research, by 2030, 67% of customer engagement between a brand and consumer using digital devices (online, mobile, etc.) will be completed by smart machines rather than the human agents of today. 

And by 2030, 69% of decisions made during a customer engagement will be completed by smart machines.

Bold predictions

Newman offered several tech-related predictions for the next ten years, including that:

  •  by 2020 augmented reality will bring the store into the home;

  • by 2023 blockchain technology will bring an end to fake news sources:
  • by 2024 delivery drones will “fill the skies” as mass adoption of autonomous delivery begins;
  • by 2026 industrial 3D printing will deliver personalised and locally made goods.

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