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Gartner: Top digital experience trends for 2020

By Shannon Williams
Wed 30 Oct 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Facial recognition payments, interaceless machines and a UX research renaissance are amongst the top digital experienced trends tipped for 2020 by Gartner. 

The analyst firm has identified nine digital experience trends that organisations need to explore in 2020, stating CIOs should consider them in their strategic planning over the next 12 months as the span of digital touchpoints continues to increase. 

Brian Prentice, research vice president at Gartner, says the digital experience trends fall within two broad categories — how digital technology is experienced and how digital experiences will be built. 

"The way in which engaging digital experiences are crafted is becoming increasingly formalised, which means that delivering a digital experience that ensures a measurable outcome will require both creative excellence and consistent process execution," he explains. 

Prentice says digital experience is a key aspect of workforce digital dexterity — the ability and desire to use new and existing technology for better business outcomes — to close the skills gap and drive competitive advantage.

“Willingness to engage with digital technology will become a key factor in determining any IT system’s ability to successfully deliver business outcomes,” he says.

“Digital experience is no longer limited to the domain of born-digital companies or outlier enterprises in specific industries. CIOs must ensure that their organisation puts as much effort into understanding how people interact with and experience digital technology as they put into tracking technology itself," Prentice explains.

Gartner’s top digital experience trends for 2020 (in no particular order) are:

1. Multiexperience

Multiexperience refers to the various permutations of modality (touch, voice and gesture), device and app with which users interact on their digital journeys. A multiexperience strategy involves creating fit-for-purpose apps based on touchpoint-specific modalities, while at the same time ensuring a consistent and unified user experience (UX) across web, mobile, wearables, conversational and immersive touchpoints.

2. Interfaceless Machines

Manufacturers across industries are abandoning on-machine controls or traditional interface models in favour of apps that run on their customers’ mobile devices. Larger screens on mobile devices, high resolutions and rich device APIs allow for device control experiences far beyond what can be achieved with on-machine interfaces. This opens up whole new avenues for advances in a product’s industrial design, while still allowing manufacturers to compete on new functionality made possible by added microprocessors.

3. Agent Interfaces

Agent interfaces employ artificial intelligence (AI) to predict what users intend to do from user input and other contextual cues. This information is then used to assist by either easing or automating the execution of those efforts. It shifts the attention of users from how a tool works to what they want to achieve with the tool. Agent interfaces represent a whole new paradigm of human-computer interaction and have broad implications that will greatly influence how enterprises interact with customers, offer services and provide tools to employees. Conversational UIs (or chatbots) are good examples.

4. Facial Recognition Payment

This is a digital experience trend emerging in China, which will disrupt the widespread use of QR code payments and further diminish the use of bank cards and cash. Facial recognition payment is already happening outside China, particularly through Apple’s Face ID with Apple Pay, with the trust existing between the user and the ecosystem provider (such as a bank). In China, however, consumers are required to give up privacy for an added level of convenience, with the trust primarily between the organisation taking payment and the ecosystem provider. Facial recognition payment offers CIOs a whole new perspective on enhancing digital CX and driving business growth.

5. Inclusive Design

Inclusive design is the principle that the best way to serve the needs of the broad community is to consider the special needs of all possible communities. Originating as an approach to design for people with disabilities, inclusive design will expand to accommodate cultural sensitivities and behavior patterns. Designers need to consider features and capabilities that accommodate all segments that are potential customers or users of their products.

6. Insourced Digital Design Services

Digital design is the process organisations use to create the best digital experience for their customers, employees and other stakeholders. It has been undergoing a shift from being a service delivered almost entirely by external agencies to a capability provided by internal digital design teams. This trend is most pronounced in industries facing a rapid rate of digitalisation. As digital touchpoints increase, insourcing digital design reduces costs and supplier complexity while increasing operational efficiency and digital experience innovation.

7. UX Research Renaissance

UX research and associated testing methodologies uncover human insights that are essential for successful design, development and innovation initiatives. Increasingly, the value of understanding users, what they do and why they do it is seen as a differentiator for organisations. UX research identifies both the features and the designs that products or experiences should have to drive usage, customer satisfaction, loyalty and ROI.

8. Design to Code

A new generation of digital design tools is emerging that allows designers to generate presentation layer code directly from screen designs and interactive prototypes. Design to code enables the dynamic and ongoing creation of templates, modules and components — both as design patterns and reusable code.

9. Design Ops

The need to define and implement design systems in the business has led to the creation of the design ops process and the emergence of tools to implement governance over the design process. Design professionals can create and deploy design standards, such as layouts, color palettes, typefaces, controls, components and other elements, and control them across multiple business units, applications, endpoints and other design variables.

“Compelling digital experiences are ultimately functions of digital design,” says Prentice.

“This process contextualises both existing and emerging technologies in ways that are relevant and meaningful for people," he says. 

"A whole new set of digital technology to support both the individual tasks of designers and the efficiency of the overall design process is emerging. This combination of process formalisation and technology will allow digital design to scale significantly.”

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