Verndale’s NECXT annual report explores the near-future of customer experience through the lens of the technologies that are shaping how brands and consumers connect. As a Sitecore customer, it’s imperative that you understand how these technologies complement, integrate, and are powered by your marketing technology investments.
For 2019, there are four key areas to focus on—voice technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning, the Internet of Things, and customer data management.
1. Voice Technology
The Sitecore platform is a centralized system that stores, manages, and delivers content to all of your customer touchpoints. As voice technology matures, it will become a key channel for customer conversations, making it critical to adapt within Sitecore.
There are already several opportunities to leverage the Sitecore platform to support innovative voice experiences.
As a centralized repository of content, your Sitecore platform already contains all the information necessary to support voice applications. The challenge is making that content available to voice applications.
Whether through third-party software or direct integrations, you can use APIs to merge existing content within Sitecore and new voice experiences to deliver more value to customers.
SEO and Site Search
Search functionality is currently the most prevalent use case for voice technology. And with the Sitecore platform, you have an opportunity to modify your website’s metadata to improve organic voice search results.
This functionality extends beyond major search engines to include site search as well. With natural language processing (NLP) built into core customer experiences, you can improve the relevance of voice search results.
Analytics and User Intent
Voice interactions give you newfound insights into user behavior and intent. By capturing data from voice interactions, even anonymous queries can be used to map behavioral patterns in customer experiences.
For cases where identity matching is part of the experience, you can capture rich data within xDB and use it to improve personalization.
Voice integrations can add a new layer to commerce-related functions. As consumers turn to voice as a primary way to interact with brands, enabling them to check order statuses, reorder products, and even place new orders in this way can keep your customer experience ahead of competition.
2. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
In the 9.1 release of Sitecore, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is initiated through Cortex. This feature, combined with other technologies that are readily available, can help Sitecore customers bring new value to customer experiences.
Supporting personalization with content creation and tagging is a significant barrier to delivering 1:1 experiences for brand engagement. But with AI and ML built into Sitecore, you can automate content tagging and pattern matching to provide real-time insights that make personalization more accessible.
Your Sitecore platform already enables personalized search results. But now, AI and ML are enhancing these existing capabilities.
By processing profile and behavioral information in real time, Sitecore can generate predictive insights and increase the effectiveness of search personalization.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning can automatically identify behavioral patterns that aren’t easily correlated by humans. This means that when customers visit your website, product recommendations can be made based on aggregate visitor behavior. And when a visitor is showing purchase intent, you can proactively engage those users to increase conversion rates.
3. Internet of Things
Every interaction is an opportunity to provide a unique and memorable experience for customers. As the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes integrated more universally—from home appliances to wearables and beyond—the opportunities for creating connected experiences are limitless.
The Sitecore platform is already built to support these omnichannel experiences through aggregation and activation of data in xDB via xConnect.
Connecting the Customer Profile
Sitecore has inherent strengths in capturing implicit and explicit information about a user’s behavior. As new, IoT-enabled devices become part of your customer experience, connecting identities across channels to Sitecore profiles will become critical.
Using xDB and xConnect, you can create a unified view of customer behavior data to personalize experiences more effectively.
Connected devices and machinery enable inventory and order management through a Sitecore-connected app or website. With the constant stream of data collected by IoT-connected devices, you’ll have the information necessary to proactively address customer needs.
4. Customer Data Management
Sitecore already has powerful profile management and is leveraged by many customers to support personalization.
However, as new technologies transform customer experiences, there are several considerations to make when reviewing how you manage data in Sitecore.
Centralized Customer Data
New technologies are pushing experiences into more channels and devices. All data from customer interactions must be centrally accessible to Sitecore if you want to deliver truly personalized, omnichannel experiences.
Extending customer profiles within xDB will improve data storage to make information more useful in broader personalization programs.
One of the greatest benefits of Sitecore is that it’s a truly open platform. By leveraging xDB, xConnect, and the Data Exchange Framework, you can share customer data between Sitecore and other platforms to ensure there’s a universally-understood profile for each customer.
As companies collect more data about customers, complying with privacy regulations will become increasingly difficult. While Sitecore is built to support these regulatory frameworks, it’s important for both customers and partners to understand emerging laws and follow them on an implementation-by-implementation basis.
Getting Ahead of What’s NECXT
The power of Sitecore is in its flexibility. As the platform is continually updated, you’ll have the foundation necessary to deliver innovative customer experiences.
Getting ahead of voice technology, AI and ML, and the Internet of Things—all while properly managing customer data—will help you maintain competitive advantages. And without the right foundation to implement these technologies, you could fall behind.
If you want to learn more about how these technologies and trends are transforming customer experiences, visit whatsnecxt.com for more information.
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