Digital Trends Study: 2020 Is The Year Of CX-Centric Business Transformation

What separates digital leaders from laggards?

Digital Trends Study: 2020 Is The Year Of CX-Centric Business Transformation

What separates digital leaders from laggards? A keen focus on customer experience (CX) across the organization, according to a new study by Adobe in partnership with Econsultancy.

The “2020 Digital Trends” report, now in its 10th year, defines CX leaders as organizations that “have advanced customer experience management (CXM) in place that’s aligned across strategy and technology.” It explores what effective CXM means in practice, how CX leaders differ from the mainstream, and what strategies companies will implement in 2020 to take a customer-centric approach to business. Econsultancy surveyed more than 12,740 marketing, advertising, e-commerce, creative, and IT professionals working for brands and agencies in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

“When we first produced this report with Econsultancy a decade ago, we found that companies were concerned primarily with the evolution of marketing on digital channels,” said Alvaro Del Pozo, Adobe VP, marketing, international. “Today we find that organizations are obsessed with getting the customer experience right, and there is already a growing number of companies that are reaping the rewards of adopting a customer-centric shift in mindset across the organization.”

Following are the top global takeaways from the report.

Companies that prioritized and effectively managed customer experience were three times as likely than their peers to have significantly exceeded their top business goals in 2019. Good experience also led to higher retention and advocacy, the study found.

The move to a customer-first model involves many moving parts. It requires a fundamental shift in strategy, investment, and culture, supported by the right technology and organizational processes. The study found significant differences in the strategy and culture of mainstream organizations compared to companies that are CX leaders. The main reason: Real change requires buy-in from the top and across an organization.

Companies will embark on a cultural transformation in 2020, with the aim of speeding up their business processes. Most organizations in the study said they are impeded by outdated workflows and internal barriers to communication and collaboration. On the other hand, CX leaders said they have overcome these challenges and can focus on rapid learning and innovation of the customer experience. CX leaders are also more likely than other companies to prioritize adding the right talent and ongoing training for their existing workforce.

Companies leading in customer experience have already worked to eliminate the structural, cultural, and technological barriers that hinder most companies from effectively managing data and providing great experiences.

While most companies are still struggling with change, CX leaders embrace it, according to the study. Additionally, the most advanced CX-led businesses are obsessed with talent, while the mainstream fears recession.

Customer journey management is a top priority for CX leaders, the study found. It’s understandable given today’s consumers expect easy, valuable experiences that are personalized to their individual wants and needs. Indeed, the modern customer journey is no longer linear—rather, it has become quite complex and unpredictable.

Effective personalization in 2020 will hinge on how mature an organization is in managing customer data. When asked what their top digital priorities will be in 2020, CX leaders cited social media engagement and analytics, content management, and targeting and personalization.

“Truly serving your customer requires an understanding of their context,” Del Pozo told CMO by Adobe. “Seeing the world through your customer’s eyes allows you to better predict and serve their needs.”

While artifical intelligence (AI) is already being integrated into many of the systems and platforms for customer experience management, much of it is happening invisibly—companies don’t even realize its AI behind the scenes. But leading and large companies are also actively exploring where AI can maximize efficiency, solve difficult problems, and offload repetitive tasks from marketers to machines.

Professionals believe the most immediate opportunity with AI is the ability to rapidly analyze and act on data, as that is what enables brands to deliver highly personalized customer experiences, the study found. Large organizations’ use of automation for data analysis jumped by nearly 20% in this year’s study, rising from 55% to 64%.

“The most profound effect of artificial intelligence is to free human beings from the minutiae, giving them more time to think, create, and add value,” Del Pozo said.