It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Prediction time! As 2016 comes to a close, we anticipate new technologies, operations, and marketing strategies coming for us in 2017.

For those of us whose predictions have revolved around the hover board since 1989, Forrester is here to give marketers realistic expectations for the coming year. Here are some highlights from their latest report about what the future of marketing will look like in 2017.

1. Customer-Obsessed Operations

Forrester predicts that more than one-third of businesses will restructure to shift to customer-obsessed operations. CEOs and boards are realizing they need to get closer to their customers, and the best way to do that is to shift operational controls downward to individual brands and divisions—the people who live in customer data. While businesses will get closer to their customers by making quicker customer-led decisions, they’ll also have to be careful not to fragment the business or destroy margins.

2. “Whole-Brained” CMOs

Right now, whole-brained CMOs are in the minority. Very few marketing executives can design engaging customer experiences while also mastering technology and analytics. But the ability to tap into both sides of the brain will soon be a requirement for both B2C and B2B marketing execs. In fact, Forrester predicts that CEOs will exit 30% of their CMOs for lacking the combination of both design and analytics skill sets.

But it seems that this transition has been in the works for a while. According to a study by the CMO Council in 2011, only 40% of CMOs received an “A” grade on their performance from their CEOs. If a CMO isn’t able to achieve the right balance between creativity and data, they’re going to be left behind.

3. CIOs – The New Marketing Leaders

Today, the customer experience and technology are inseparably intertwined. New technologies are constantly popping up that make the shopping experience faster and more convenient. Which is why Forrester believes CIOs will become business leaders to address both internal and external risks in 2017. The idea is that budgets will shift from traditional IT spend to technologies connected to the customer experience. If you’re able to stay on top of customer tech trends, you’ll have happy customers and a happy bottom line.

4. Increased Revenue Risk

Rewarding or punishing a company based on a single customer experience used to be the trademark of Millennials. But now we’re seeing this type of customer behavior in the older generations, which means revenue risk will increase to the tune of 25% to 50% if Forrester’s predictions are correct. In 2017, we’re going to see a lot more companies investing in customer experience initiatives to compete in a customer-led market.

5. Emotion

Studies show that consumers rely on emotions—not information—to make brand decisions. Douglas Van Praet wrote in Fast Company, “Emotions don’t hinder decisions. The constitute the foundation on which they’re made!” So for those of us who may not always understand our emotions, it seems that some companies are already a step ahead of us. In 2017, firms will be able to start quantifying and harnessing the power of emotion to drive affinity and spend. For example, companies already know that customers who experience disgust, anger, or feelings of neglect during a brand interaction are eight times more likely not to forgive that company.

6. Microdesign

No, we’re not talking about tiny landing pages. We’re talking about integrated analytic and design teams working together to identify and design moments that win the hearts, minds, and wallets of customers. Forrester defines these moments as:

  • Critical steps in the customer journey where consumers pay the most attention, are most anxious or appreciate value most.
  • Distinct opportunities to deliver the best and most authentic part of your brand

You may also refer to these moments as micro-moments. Essentially, microdesign creates these moments. It’s not easy, but the companies that can successfully implement microdesign into their strategies will stand out as marketing leaders in 2017.

7. New Wave of Technologies

It’s already hard to keep track of new innovations. But it looks like the newest wave of the technology revolution is all about the customer. Forrester expects the new technologies in 2017 will come in three forms:

  • Engagement technologies: Different virtual, physical, and digital experiences that harmonize across the customer journey.
  • Insights technologies: Personalization and predictive analytics on a micro scale — again, think microdesign.
  • Supporting technologies: New levels of speed and efficiency.

These new technologies will completely change how companies operate and interact with their customers. Imagine augmented and virtual reality, the Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and cloud computing.

8. Artificial Intelligence

As of now, marketers have tons of customer data. The only problem is that it’s trapped in multiple systems of record and most firms aren’t able to coordinate and drive insights across their internal functional siloes. But in 2017, investments in artificial intelligence (AI) will triple as firms work to convert customer data into personalized experiences. So businesses will be able to create better customer engagements via mobile, wearables, and the Internet of things (IoT) using deeper contextual insights. And there are already businesses making strides in AI implementation like Adobe, Google, IBM, and Salesforce.

In short, the future is all about the customer. Mediocre customer experiences are no longer tolerated. Businesses need to be aware of their customers’ needs, wants, and emotions. And companies that don’t make changes to better cater to the customer experience will definitely suffer the consequences. The good news is there is a huge selection of technologies available, or becoming available, to help businesses better understand and interact with their customers.

Cari Thompson

Posted by Cari Thompson

Cari Thompson is a copywriter, online marketer, and blogger. She studied marketing and advertising and - drum roll, please - music at Brigham Young University. Cari started in traditional advertising as a media buyer then transitioned into the online world through buzz marketing, blogging, and copywriting. Her three greatest accomplishments include beating Super Mario 3 in one night without a whistle, drumming for tens of people, and licking an ice sculpture at the Versace Mansion.

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