2016 predictions: The year of personalisation

John Rakowski, director of technical strategy at AppDynamics, outlines his technology predictions for 2016.

The Rise of Repercussions

We predict that software and application glitches will become one of the top five brand blunders, up there with tax evasion, dodgy office culture and staff infidelities. 2016 may be the year of realising ultra-connectivity, yet it will also be the year of preventing system performance issues, especially for customer-facing applications. Software performance will no longer just be an IT priority but will be top of mind for all business execs, given the increasing significance of glitches and outages reported during 2015.

As traditional organisations embark on digital transformation journeys, software issues have the potential to cause major setbacks or even derail transformation efforts all together. App performance glitches will soon be treated with as much fear and loathing as cybersecurity breaches – we need only to look to the impact they can have on brand loyalty and, consequently, business revenues.

The Year of Loyalty

2016 will be the year that retailers and banks differentiate themselves on loyalty schemes, through making them as personal and seamless as possible through use of applications and APIs. Loyalty programmes will be benchmarked based on the level of co-creation offered to customers. This form of service design has already been exemplified by challenger banks such as Fidor.

Businesses will increasingly get customers involved at the start of their app design efforts: application analytics can help companies identify those customers needed to part of these processes. Establishing a natural connection between brand and customer from the outset will help brands achieve better application design overall. This customer centricity will precipitate a change in the skills required by developers and IT operations professionals.

Technical skills will be replaced by business technology skills or the ability to understand why tech is so important to the business and how to use tech to build customer loyalty. These skills and past experiences will be gold to enterprises in 2016.

The Internet of Customers

We’re still getting used to virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana, let alone driverless underground trains. Yet as consumers, we still want an element of the human touch, or at least the personal touch. In today’s digital economy, a shiny new app is not enough to win over customers’ hearts. Although applications are the main channel for interaction, just having an app only allows you to play in today's marketplace. The same way people nostalgically go to their bank tellers or checkout assistants rather than automated or online services, people want a personal touch when using apps that let them know someone is taking their needs and wants into full consideration – this is one of the reasons why Uber has worked so well.

If we start to feel more at ease with machines and devices, we will warrant more software and applications, all needing to run well and keep consumers happy. 2016 will therefore see businesses shift towards thinking “customer” rather than “user” thinking. Businesses will succeed by investing in understanding the intricacies of the customer journey to ensure that even though an app has been designed for millions, it feels unique for every single customer.

Similar to the personal touch, The Internet of Things must be designed with customers’ habits in mind. IoT means technology will need to become more intuitive and invisible, blending into the background of everyday life. There will be a shift in focus towards how consumers interact with their devices and how they fit in their lives. The moment it becomes a frustration rather than a convenience, is the moment we question the benefits. Speaking to your device and it fails to recognise your voice or register the command – the usability of the IoT experience is going to be paramount if it is to succeed. Businesses will need to consider the IoT to be the IoC – the experience has to be about customers not devices.

The death of the traditional job description

2016 will see a change for tech leaders. Traditional roles of the CMO and CIO are struggling to make the required impact in the digital business. That's why we will see roles such as the CDO and tactical digital teams being set up. As Gartner’s recent report on digital leadership explored, digitalisation now takes centre stage in driving business success. It will be our job to ensure that CIOs understand how application intelligence and understanding customer experience can help them build influence and be stars in the digital business.

IoT culture of collaboration

The arrival of mobile has already caused a huge shift in the development process, with the most innovative businesses adopting a DevOps culture in order to keep up with increased speed of deployment. Although mobile devices will remain the main focus in 2016, businesses will increasingly look to innovate how connected devices are being used across a breadth of industries. Whether emergency services are using sensors to monitor firefighters’ vitals, or cookers and ovens are remote controlled in the home, these kinds of trends will place new demands on IT.

Developing around the IoT will require new levels of speed and agility, as a larger range of devices and increasing focus on innovation are required to stay competitive. To achieve this, businesses need to ensure new levels of collaboration across the organisation, ensuring that business, development and operations, or BizDevOps, understand each other perfectly.

Along with speed, enterprises will realise that software is key to enabling IoT. It is how the Internet of Things becomes the Intelligence of Things. Therefore, in 2016, there will be greater interest in how to both monitor performance and manage the huge amounts of data produced.

Those enterprises who will be successful with IoT products and services (so connected cars, home products and the such) will use analytics tools to understand utilisation, performance and value delivered, in order to continuously optimise their customer’s experience.

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