In the first post of this three-part series, we noted that now is the time of the year CX leaders are evaluating their 2018 activities and planning for 2019. Furthermore, we cautioned that it is also the time of the year where there’s an abundance of hype fueled by self-proclaimed CX experts. In order to avoid falling for false pretenses, we highly recommend that you follow the best practices that deliver actual results.

Aberdeen’s recent survey of CX leaders helped us uncover the top technologies companies plan to incorporate in their CX technology toolbox in 2019. These are not based on hype, but rather self-reported insights shared by worldwide CX leaders in companies of all sizes and across all industries. Figure 1 below highlights the top 10 technologies that CX leaders plan to adopt in 2019.

Figure 1: Top 10 Technologies CX Leaders Plan to Adopt in 2019

The first post in this series highlighted the benefits and use cases of artificial intelligence, real-time decision assist and guidance and social collaboration tools. Let’s use this post to take a closer look into four additional top technologies ranking high in the CX executives’ technology adoption plans:

Machine learning: Machine learning helps companies use software to analyze vast volumes of data with greater accuracy to find hidden trends and correlations. For example, commerce organizations can use machine learning to determine the ideal cross-sell / up-sell offers for shoppers by analyzing historical online orders. Contact center leaders can analyze historical customer traffic across all channels to determine patterns driving increased or decreased traffic, gaining insights that can then be used through predictive analytics to predict future traffic across all channels.

While many companies refer to AI synonymously with automation, the reality is that most AI capabilities are largely related to applying machine learning to existing datasets. Thus, as companies continue to increase their adoption of AI, we anticipate that machine learning will parallel this increase.

Knowledge management: This isn’t a new technology in the CX leaders’ toolbox. Knowledge management provides customer-facing departments such as sales and service with a centralized repository of content they can use to do their jobs. From a sales perspective, it can be used to document and store organizational knowledge built and shared informally across sellers, including new sales rep onboarding procedures, selling guides for specific products, etc. By making it easier for all sellers to find relevant knowledge, sales organizations maximize seller productivity, increase quota attainment, shorten average sales cycles, and improve deal sizes.

Similar benefits are also observed by the contact center. Aberdeen’s November 2018 Agent Productivity & Performance Management: Help Your Agents Do Their Job study shows that on average, agents spend 14% of their time looking for information to help customers. By capturing and organizing relevant knowledgebase articles and making them easy for agents to access through enterprise search functionality or through a unified agent desktop, businesses reduce the time agents spend looking for information. In turn, this helps decrease average handle times and minimizes the risk of frustrating customers.

Digital asset management: This technology differs from knowledge management, in that it’s typically used by marketing and commerce organizations as opposed to the contact center and sales. Specifically, digital asset management (DAM) enables marketing and commerce organizations to organize, store, find, and utilize digital content (e.g., videos, images, podcasts, etc.) while helping companies maintain compliance with brand guidelines.

This capability allows marketers to create a new campaign using content they access through a DAM solution, but prevents modification of the content in such a way that it no longer aligns with the branding guidelines set by the company. This helps companies maintain control of their digital assets and minimizes reliance on IT. Hence, DAM helps companies empower the line-of-business with the ability to do their jobs more efficiently. Given the importance of personalizing customer interactions with the right content, it’s not surprising to see DAM listed among the top 10 technologies CX leaders plan to incorporate into their toolbox.

Workflow automation: With a growing focus on AI, automation has also taken the mainstage over the past two years in many CX executive discussions. When asking CX executives participating in our survey if they currently use this technology or plan to use it, Aberdeen defined workflow automation as a technology capability through which companies automate tasks that require minimal human judgement (e.g., copy-pasting form fields from one document to another). In this definition, we included tasks that can be completed by software but supervised by humans to ensure accuracy (e.g., forecasting customer care traffic across multiple channels, customer routing in the contact center, and associating a new sales proposal with existing account data in CRM).

Based on the above definition, we can note that both robotic process automation (RPA) and business process automation (BPA) fall within this category. Aberdeen’s research shows that automation — when designed and managed properly — helps companies introduce greater efficiency into existing processes, such as forecasting customer traffic and managing a customer loyalty program. It also helps reduce the time to complete certain tasks, and therefore helps companies improve their overall agility in responding to customer needs.

We recommend companies consider automation as a way to augment their current activities. While there is a lot of hype about how automation can help companies reduce labor costs, the reality is that automation today is mostly used in more simple and repetitive tasks. Therefore, you should consider automating those tasks and empowering employees with the right tools and knowledge to manage other, more complicated tasks that require human decision making.

So far in our series we’ve highlighted the top seven technologies that CX leaders plan to incorporate in their toolbox in 2019. We’ll use the final post in our three-post series next week to highlight the benefits and use cases of the three meaning technologies. Stay tuned.

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