Empowered users drive Contextual Experiences

Contextual experiences are driven by changes in user behavior, empowered by technologies such as smartphones, machine learning and the cloud. However, they have as much to do with demographic and lifestyle changes as they do with the technology that enables them. Given that 80% of online purchases in 2018 will be influenced by mobile, and within a decade the average person will have more conversations with bots than with other humans each day, organizations that fail to deliver contextual experiences will be passed over for those that do.

Users, not organizations, will increasingly determine how they consume information, engage with brands and get work done. Today's empowered users can now dictate the terms of their business engagements. According to data from 451 Research's Voice of the Connected User Landscape (VoCUL): 1H 2017 Corporate Mobility and Digital Transformation, 82% of businesses say that machine learning for automated contextual recommendations is important to creating personalized experiences. Growth in data for contextualized experiences, empowered by technologies such as mobile, cloud and machine learning, will create a significant gap between digital leaders and laggards when it comes to using technologies for strategic innovation.

Technology is quickly becoming the catalyst for one of the most profound changes ever to occur in the relationship between individuals and the world around them. Business is being redefined from a transactional relationship between people into a more nuanced, tangled relationship between humans and the automated systems and devices they use to engage the world. With it comes a dramatic shift in the balance of power between many organizations and their customers across virtually all industries. Prices and products are no longer enough to influence decisions. Instead, people place a higher value on experiences.

To survive (and thrive), organizations must leverage new technologies and underlying platforms to deliver differentiated experiences. People have access to more information, choices and opportunities, and they can now dictate the terms of engagement with many businesses. The explosion in connectivity, intelligent devices and the applications running on them makes it increasingly possible to personalize application experiences with real-time context and user preferences. Individuals expect to self-direct their interactions, and consequently to own or influence more of the technologies mediating their experience of the world.

In technology terms, this has led to a number of trends: the growth of self-service; more conversational methods of engagement, and the growth of bots in mediating and automating that engagement; and the adding of contextual environmental data and other identifiable attributes to improve how those experiences are consumed. Consequently, this trend demands platform capabilities as an invisible infrastructure that enables organizations to deliver on these needs. It has led to the spread of low- and no-code tools used to automate routine transactional scenarios in their lives, and allowed workers to self-determine their workflows. Individuals are getting more choice and greater autonomy in where and how they focus their efforts.

What makes those user experiences meaningful (and ultimately profitable for those that provide them) is that they are informed by contextual cues that remind both customer and business of what is valuable – the data. The macro significance of context is in the endless inputs that will be available to improve and make intelligent the design and consumption of digital experiences.

The instrumentation of the built and natural environments through IoT – and new ways for individuals to communicate and collaborate around the huge explosion of new data and content – requires greater automation to release human labor from routine tasks and new devices, to more immersively engage with the world. New types of augmented, virtual and mixed-reality experiences, along with a new generation of AI-based digital assistants taking on a growing number of individuals' routines (and over time, complex tasks) will further empower users.

The ultimate expression of the significance of the empowered user is that they will determine more and more of the context around how brands need to engage them, and around the workflows and processes through which work is conducted. Businesses will ultimately have to work harder to cater to individual consumer and workstyle preferences.

Learn more about 451 Research's Voice of the Connected User Landscape data.
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