Forrester urges thoughtful approach to 2024 tech

Published on the 07/12/2023 | Written by Heather Wright

Forrester urges thoughtful approach to 2024 tech

Tech FOMO? Careful, you may get burned…

Only 10 percent of APAC technology executives will get ‘growth’ in 2024 and really understand how to use technology effectively to deliver that growth, despite a clear call to action, according to Forrester.

Sam Higgins, Forrester Sydney-based principal analyst, says local tech leaders are going to navigate not just the dramatic changes being seen in technology, but the implication it has for growth.

“Sometimes we think about technology in a vacuum.”

“Despite the allure of some of these technology opportunities, particularly generative AI and the magic we sometimes see, the winning strategy is going to be where some of these new technologies are and the implications they might have for other disciplines such as around needing to improve zero trust and rethinking the way humans operate in the security domain,” Higgins says.

“It really requires us as tech leaders to find the really compelling advantages of these technologies and think about them really judiciously and make sure we integrate them into long-term growth strategies.”

Higgins says in the last six or seven years, Australia and New Zealand have entered a period of ‘digital stagnation, or digital sameness’ – and it’s been accompanied by an inability to drive true productivity growth though technology.

“If we look at Australia’s productivity growth and technology investment since 1995, we’re now spending as much on technology as we were 20-30 years ago, but the productivity dividend has flatlined,” he says, noting similar issues in New Zealand.

GenAI offers the possibility of delivering both differentiated and productivity growth potential. But just 10 percent of tech executives understand how to use technology effectively to deliver growth.

“We know from our research that tech executives who are really well aligned with the business, who understand how tech contributes to other disciplines – marketing, security, trust, CX – actually help those businesses grow at 2.4x more than industry average which they are in.

“You need to really think about what is the role of technology in driving growth. That will help you be one of the 10 percent to actually get growth.

“That requires that we understand how systems that scale and secure the environment – that zero trrust foundation for example – can actually help us to support the day to day growth of the business, but then we need to think about the way in which new CX opportunities, the way in which we might be able to better use genAI in our market functions, can help to amplify and also create growth.

Forrester is forecasting that just 30 percent of APAC firms will reap the ‘transformative’ impact of GenAI. That’s due to the challenges that need to be overcome to get GenAI ‘right’.

Key among those is architecture. Just like was needed with the iPhone, internet and the move from mainframe to client server, so architecture is needed for GenAI, with layers, gates, pipes and feedback loops forming the basis of GenAI-powered application infrastructure.

Organisations need to think about what the new architecture will look like, just as we’ve thought about architectural implications of new technology inflections in the past.

Improved data will also be key, with just 17 percent of APAC companies reporting they have no data challenges impeding their current digital experiences.

Higgins comments came as part of Forrester’s Predictions 2024 webinar, which also saw Forrester principal analyst Daryl Wright cautioning that millennials will make up 75 percent of business buying teams in 2024 – and they’re demanding early access to B2B product experts to guide them through the buying journey.

He warned too that thinly customised genAI content will degrade the purchase experience for 70 percent of buyers.

“GenAI has the capability to provide not only personalisation on scale but also transform your content processes, but there is a caveat: You can’t just drop GenAI into your environment and expect it to work well.”

Buyers reject content that fails to address their business conditions or needs specifically, and GenAI adoption must be the means and not the end.

“If you are providing content that is not business focused and providing what buyers want, they will move on very quickly,” he says.

“If you’re thinking about how you are going to implement all this you really need to ensure you have a solid approach – that you have the vision, organisation, technology, data and people all lined up before you think about implementation.”

Clarity of goals and reasons for implementing the technology; suitable governance structure and alignment with the organisation; a clear understanding of what the technology can and can not deliver and its limitations and security risks; ensuring your marketing data and house is in order and education and upskilling of marketing teams – many of whom are not comfortable with GenAI, are needed.

Riccard Pasto, Forrester principal analyst, meanwhile says 2024 will see CX improve for the first time in three years.

He noted that many companies have invested resources, time and budget in CX, but haven’t seen the results they expected, with most organisations delivering ‘just ok experiences’.

But if Forrester is expecting CX quality to improve next year, that too comes with a caveat, with Pasto saying it will only happen for organisations who have been investing consistently in CX capabilities over the last few years and, most importantly, in companies where CX leaders have been able to establish strong collaboration and alignment with their peers particularly in digital product and ops teams.

“We often think about the latest and greatest technology. But sometimes we think about technology in a vacuum without clearly understanding how that technology impacts customer experience, customer trust and outcomes.”

Instead, companies need to identify what moves the needle of customer experience quality – common top drivers include  such as answering questions faster and better, resolving problems on first contact, communicating clearly and leaving the customer feeling respected.

“We predict that key to many improvements will be behind the scenes, including technology that augments customer service agent capabilities,” he says.

Unsurprisingly, GenAI made an appearance here, too, with Pasto noting use of the technology for summarising transcripts, saving agents time and creating more consistent and accurate notes to be used for downstream analytics; boosting productivity in text based channels such as live chat, and crafting relevant and contextual content like chatbot replies or channel-specific variants of existing knowledge articles.

But Pasto also warned companies not to be burned by FOMO (fear of missing out).

While Forrester has forecast half of large global firms will experiment with customer-facing GenAI, Pasto says many will make the leap in response to executive demands, even though they may not be fully ready.

“There have been many examples in the past decade of organisations or brands that learn this the hard way – applying technology without good design or development practices. It was certainly true prior to ChatGPT, and ChatGPT does not change it, you could argue it creates even more risk.

“So be very careful if the number one reason to deploy that sort of technology is about cost saving. It is important, but it shouldn’t be taken in isolation. We have to be very careful when we deploy certain technologies of the impact it has on customer experience and trust.”

He urged companies to evaluate how a technology can drive better CX across a customer’s value network, build a customer-focused business case and success metrics and to follow best practices for responsible AI development and deployment.

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