Critical for Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Contextual Commerce is Convenience, Context and Control

Written by: Sheryl Kingstone, Research Vice President & General Manager - VOCUL

The holiday season is right around the corner and so are the notorious shopping holidays of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. According to our Voice of the Connected User Landscape survey, 80% of respondents plan to spend the same as the previous year and the remaining 20% plan to modify their spending. Whether those modifications involve an increase or decrease in spending is difficult to determine based on trends with those respondents being almost evenly split – with 38% expected to spend more than last year and 45% expected to spend less.

With this in mind, we don’t anticipate how much people are spending to be of great interest, but rather where people are buying what they need this holiday season. According to our Global Unified Commerce Forecast, there could be nearly $6 trillion in global digital commerce sales by 2022 up for grabs. That is still a ways away, but digital commerce is still anticipated to dominate holiday spending shopping behavior with 42% of respondents planning to do most of their shopping online rather than in store – a 27% increase in online spending from last year. Additionally, 47% of high-income shoppers will do the majority of their shopping through digital commerce channels.
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Introducing 4SIGHT Part 1: Contextual Experience

At our 14th annual Hosting Cloud & Transformation Summit last month, 451 Research CEO Martin McCarthy unveiled 4SIGHT, a new extensive report detailing the major forces of innovation reshaping the digital enterprise landscape. Serving as a framework for our clients to help plan for the future – as well as underpinning our research agenda – the report describes four major categories that will drive the industry over the next decade: Invisible Infrastructure, Pervasive Intelligence, Contextual Experience and Universal Risk. In this post, we provide an overview of our thinking around Contextual Experience.

We define Contextual Experience as the interactions between a customer, worker or citizen and an organization that are augmented by rich sources of real-time information, delivered in the right way at the right time for a friction-free experience.

As technology becomes central to how individuals experience the world around them, it shifts the center of gravity from businesses to individuals in an unprecedented way. 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 with the world. With it, the balance of power between organizations and their customers changes dramatically across virtually all industries. Prices and products are no longer enough to influence decisions. Instead, customers place a higher value on experiences. Employees will also value experiences and will need more motivation than compensation, benefits and an appealing corporate mission statement from their workplace.

With the explosion in new types of physical, digital and blended experiences, the battleground is moving beyond businesses providing ‘omni-channel’ strategies. Users will soon be expecting intelligent, immersive, pervasive and seamless experiences, all personalized to their own changing context.

For example, think about your relationship with your smartphone and how you use it. We found that 80% of online purchases in 2017 were influenced by mobile and that the average person will have more conversations with machine-learning-enabled bots than with other humans each day within a decade. It will behoove organizations to work toward delivering such contextual experiences to their consumers to avoid being passed over in the future.

From an enterprise perspective, successful organizations will adapt their technology stacks and utilize new inputs to create the Liquid Enterprise – enabling them to organize more fluidly around their customers and their workers. Businesses that can quickly and easily marshal and manage human resources to organize responsively around users’ ever-changing requirements will be on top in the future.

In short, technology will become central to how individuals experience the world around them, and enterprises will be expected to cater to the users’ preferred ways of consuming information, engaging the brand and completing work. We are starting to see these changes today, but these developments will increase over the next decade.

There is much more to learn about the long-term effects and predictions within the 4SIGHT report. Current customers can contact their sales rep; otherwise, apply for a trial to learn more.
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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.

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Gaining 4Sight into the future

The following is an introduction to 4Sight, 451 Research's newly-released research framework. In the coming months, we'll be releasing a series of Spotlights on 4Sight and its major themes--Invisible Infrastructure, Pervasive Intelligence, Universal Risk and Contextual Experience.

Eric Hanselman, Chief Analyst
John Abbott, Founder & Distinguished Analyst

It may seem trite to state that the world is changing faster than ever before. That's a natural product of the progression of modern society. But the change that is happening in information technology today has taken on a different character, which requires a different kind of conversation in sorting out its impacts. There are opportunities that necessitate something more than what we've used in the past. There are also existential threats for those that misstep. The 451 Research team has distilled research data, client conversations, and market and technology insight to produce a framework that offers a new way to assess technology's more distant outcomes.

There have to be deeper conversations around where IT is heading, and they have to reflect changes in expectations and perceptions. The old models and ideas leave too much out. The intrusion of cloud services continues to bend plans and buying patterns. Security concerns spur protections, while users try to push them aside. Greater perspective has to be put to work to effectively guide investment and thinking. 451 Research's 4Sight framework can guide thinking around what the future holds and how to make plans for it.

45ight 2018
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