Panel Experts Emphasize Companies Connecting And Sharing In A Cloud Ecosystem 

Emily Porro

Optimizing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) isn’t just about connecting machines and collecting data, but sharing it with the right partners to deliver the best value, according to participants in the “Industrial Internet of Things” panel at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “You have to bring people in through an ecosystem – a cloud of clouds,” explained Ronald Zink, director, on-board applications at John Deere & Company, which is working with farmers and growers globally to digitalize and optimize production through IIoT.

“We’ve embraced mobile and cloud tech in a bigger way,” said Mr. Zink, who went on to explain the company’s cloud ecosystem, whereby trusted advisers share data and information, enabling a farmer to look at soil on the field, determine yield potential, and consider weather, which can impact planting and harvesting. SAP is showcasing a farming platform at its stand at Mobile World Congress this week as well.

“Working together we have more opportunities,” agreed Angel Barrio, VP, M2M Etisalat, a leading telecommunications operator in the Middle East and Africa, but he also noted the important role of standardization. “We are working with our competitors, vendors, and developers to try to standardize as soon as possible in order to spread technology all over the world.”

Mr. Christopher Ganz, group VP, service R&D at ABB, a provider of power and automation to the industry, offered insights on work ABB championed to analyze electric signals from the diesel motors on cruise ships through data collected by sensors. The data is fed to the cloud in order to optimize energy consumption while monitoring and predicting repairs. According to Mr. Ganz, “we can move basic service data into the cloud and derive more information to optimize customer maintenance and operations. Then data can provide more value.”

Mats Myrberg, senior director, business development, IoT & research at Microsoft, presented a case study on monitoring a 150-year old elevator from the cloud. In his view, machine learning is the future of the cloud. Microsoft’s technology enables the elevator company to benefit from algorithms that predict when a machine is going to break down so that parts are shipped before it breaks.

“This is the third wave of Internet, some say,” he noted. “Industries that haven’t adopted Internet technology are now adopting and transforming.”


Emily Porro

About Emily Porro

Emily Porro is a writer and blogger focusing on the people, products, services and technology driving global innovation across industries.



Innovation Without Boundaries: Why The Cloud Matters

Michael Haws

Is it possible to innovate without boundaries?

Of course – if you are using the cloud. An actual cloud doesn’t have any boundaries. It’s fluid. But more important, it can provide the much-needed precipitation that brings nature to life. So it is with cloud technology – but it’s your ideas that can grow and transform your business.USA --- Clouds, Heaven --- Image by © Ocean/Corbis

Running your business in the cloud is no longer just a consideration during a typical use-case exercise. Business executives are now faced with making decisions on solutions that go beyond previous limitations with cloud computing. Selecting the latest tools to address a business process gap is now less about features and more about functionality.

It doesn’t matter whether your organization is experienced with cloud solutions or new to the concept. Cloud technology is quickly becoming a core part of addressing the needs of a growing business.

5 considerations when planning your journey to the cloud

How can your organization define its successful path to the cloud? Here are five things you should consider when investigating whether a move to the cloud is right for you.

1. Understanding the cloud is great, but putting it into action is another thing.

For most CIOs, putting a cloud strategy on paper is new territory. Cloud computing is taking on new realms: Pure managed services to software-as-a-service (SaaS). Just as legacy computing had different flavors, so does cloud technology.

2. There is more than one way to innovate in the cloud.

Alignment with an open cloud reference architecture can help your CIO deliver on the promises of the cloud while using a stair-step approach to cloud adoption – from on-premise to hybrid to full cloud computing. Some companies find their own path by constantly reevaluating their needs and shifting their focus when necessary – making the move from running a data center to delivering real value to stakeholders, for example.

3. The cloud can help accelerate processes and lower cost.

By recognizing unprecedented growth, your organization can embark on a path to significant transformation that powers greater agility and competitiveness. Choose a solution set that best meets your needs, and implement and support it moving forward. By leveraging the cloud to support the chosen solution, ongoing maintenance, training, and system issues becomes the cloud provider’s responsibility. And for you, this offers the freedom to focus on the core business.

4. You can lock down your infrastructure and ensure more efficient processes.

Do you use a traditional reporting engine against a large relational database to generate a sequential batched report to close your books at quarter’s end? If so, you’re not alone. Sure, a new solution with new technology may be an obvious improvement. But how valuable to your board will you become when you reduce the financial closing process by 1–3 days? That’s the beauty of the cloud: You can accelerate the deployment of your chosen solution and realize ROI quickly – even before the next full reporting period.

5. The cloud opens the door to new opportunity in a secure environment.

For many companies, moving to the cloud may seem impossible due to the time and effort needed to train workers and hire resources with the right skill sets. Plus, if you are a startup in a rural location, it may not be as easy to attract the right talent as it is for your Silicon Valley counterparts. The cloud allows your business to secure your infrastructure as well as recruit and onboard those hard-to-find resources by applying a managed services contract to run your cloud model

The cloud means many things to different people. What’s your path?

With SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud service, you can navigate the best path to building, running, and operating your own cloud when running critical business processes. Find out how SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud can deliver the speed and resources necessary to quickly validate and realize solid ROI.

Check out the video below or visit us at

Connect with us on Twitter: @SAPServices


Michael Haws

About Michael Haws

Michael Haws is the Vice President of HANA Enterprise Cloud at SAP. His specialties include Enterprise Resource Planning Software & Services, Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore--Application, Infrastructure and Business Process Outsourcing.


Consumers And Providers: Two Halves Of The Hybrid Cloud Equation

Marty McCormick

Long gone are the days of CIOs and IT managers freely spending money to move their 02 Jun 2012 --- Young creatives having lunch and conversation. --- Image by © Hero/Corbisexisting systems to the cloud without any real business justification just to be part of the latest hype. As cloud deployments are becoming more prevalent, IT leaders are now tasked with proving the tangible benefits of adopting a cloud strategy from an operational, efficiency, and cost perspective. At the same time, they must balance their end users’ increasing demand for access to more data from an ever-expanding list of public cloud sources.

Lately, public cloud systems have become part of IT landscapes both in the form of multi-tenant systems, such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings and data consumption applications such as Twitter. Along with the integration of applications and data outside of the corporate domain, new architectures have been spawned, requiring real-time and seamless integration points.  As shown in the figure below, these hybrid clouds – loosely defined as the integration of data from systems in both public and private clouds in a unified fashion – are the foundation of this new IT architecture.


Not only has the hybrid cloud changed a company’s approach to deploying new software, but it has also changed the way software is developed and sold from a provider’s perspective.

The provider perspective: Unifying development and operations

Thanks to the hybrid cloud approach, system administrators and developers are sitting side by side in an agile development model known as Development and Operations (DevOps). By increasing collaboration, communication, innovation, and problem resolution, development teams can closely collaborate with system administrators and provide a continuous feedback loop of both sides of the agile methodology.

For example, operations teams can provide feedback on reported software bugs, software support issues, and new feature requests to development teams in real time. Likewise, development teams develop and test new applications with support and maintainability as a key pillar in design.
After seeing the advantages realized by cloud providers that have embraced this approach long ago, other companies that have traditionally separated these two areas are now adopting the DevOps model.

The consumer perspective: Moving to the cloud on its own terms

From the standpoint of the corporate consumer, hybrid cloud deployments bring a number of advantages to an IT organization. Specifically, the hybrid approach allows companies to move some application functionality to the cloud at their own pace.
Many applications naturally lend themselves to public cloud domains given their application and data requirements. For most companies, HR, indirect procurement, travel, and CRM systems are the first to be deployed in a public cloud. This approach eliminates the requirement for building and operating these applications in house while allowing IT areas to take advantage of new features and technologies much faster.

However, there is one challenge consumers need to overcome: The lack of capabilities needed to extend these applications and meet business requirements when the standard offering is often insufficient. Unfortunately, this tempts organizations to create extensive custom applications that replicate information across a variety of systems to meet end user requirements. This development work can offset the cost benefits of the initial cloud application, especially when you consider the upgrades and support required to maintain the application.

What this all means to everyone involved in the hybrid cloud

Given these two perspectives, on-premise software providers are transforming themselves so they can meet the ever-evolving demands of today’s information consumer. In particular, they are preparing for these unique challenges facing customers and creating a smooth journey to a hybrid cloud.

Take SAP, for example. By adopting a DevOps model to break down a huge internal barrier and allowing tighter collaboration, the company has delivered a simpler approach to hybrid cloud deployments through the SAP HANA Cloud Platform for extending applications and SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud for hosting solutions.

Find out how these two innovations can help you implement a robust and secure hybrid cloud solution:
SAP HANA Cloud Platform
SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud


Marty McCormick

About Marty McCormick

Marty McCormick is the Lead Technical Architect, Managed Cloud Delivery, at SAP. He is experienced in a wide range of SAP solutions, including SAP Netweaver SAP Portal, SAP CRM, SAP SRM, SAP MDM, SAP BI, and SAP ERP.

Customer Experience: OmniChannel. OmniNow. OmniWow.

Jamie Anderson, Volker Hildebrand, Lori Mitchell-Keller, and Stephanie Overby

The lines between the digital and physical customer experience today are largely artificial. Customers shop in retail stores with their devices at the ready. They expect online-like personalization and recommendations in the aisles. They’re looking for instant gratification and better sensory experiences from digital channels. It’s an omnichannel world and companies must figure out how to live in it: delivering a superior customer experience regardless of the entry point.

Luxury fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff, for example, opened its first three retail stores with the intent of taking customers’ best online experiences and bringing them to life. “In the past, you had this brick-and-mortar experience, and you had the online experience,” says company president Uri Minkoff. “There were such great advantages and efficiencies that emerged with shopping online. You could get recommendations, see how something should be styled, create wish lists, access user-generated content. In the store, it was still just you and the product, and maybe a sales associate. But [unlike online] you had all five of your senses.”

Rebecca Minkoff’s new stores still stimulate those senses while incorporating some of the intelligence that online channels typically bring to bear. Each store features a large interactive screen at the entrance, where customers can browse products or order a beverage. Shoppers can interact with salespeople or they can make purchases on a mobile app without ever talking to a soul. Inside a fitting room, RFID-tagged merchandise is displayed on an interactive mirror, where customers can request new sizes or the designer’s recommended coordinates (a real-life recommendation engine).

The company has found that 30% of women ask for additional items based on the recommendations. It has also sold three times more of its new ready-to-wear line than it anticipated. “We were an accessories-dominant brand,” says Minkoff. “But we’ve been able to build this direct relationship with our customers, helping them with outfit completers and also getting a better sense of what they want based on what’s actually happening in our fitting rooms.”

Each piece of technology adds to the experience while capturing the details. Rebecca Minkoff’s integrated systems can remember a customer’s previous visits and preferred colors and sizes, and can enable associates to set up a fitting room with appropriate garments. On the back end, the company gets the kind of visibility into in-store conversions once possible only in digital transactions. “The technology gives us the ability to create the kind of experience each customer wants. She can shop anonymously or be treated like a VIP,” says Minkoff.


Build Around a Big Idea

Rebecca Minkoff’s approach is a bellwether. It’s not enough simply to provide continuity or consistency from one channel to another. Customers don’t think in terms of channels, and neither should companies. Rather, it’s about defining the overarching experience you want to deliver to customers and then building the appropriate offline and online elements to achieve that intended outcome.

As more goods and even services are commoditized, companies must compete on the experiences they create (see The ROI of Customer Experience). That means coming up with a big idea that drives the design of the customer experience. “Every great experience needs to have a theme,” says Joe Pine, consultant and coauthor of The Experience Economy and Infinite Possibility: Creating Customer Value on the Digital Frontier. “That’s the organizing principle of the experience. It’s how you decide what’s in and what’s out.”

For example, Rebecca Minkoff serves as an image consultant to its Millennial customers, who expect personalization, recognition, and tech innovation, using a mix of online and offline techniques. To stand apart, companies must come up with their own unifying idea and then integrate data and systems, rework organizational models, and rethink key strategic metrics and employee incentives in order to integrate the physical and digital worlds around that idea.

Here are some examples of companies that have created a theme-driven experience using online and offline elements.

Nespresso: Imparting a Sense of Luxury

At the most basic level, Nespresso is a manufacturer of coffee and coffee machines. But the company has successfully turned what it sells and how it sells it into a very specific type of experience. Nespresso strives to impart a feeling of quality, exclusivity, even luxury in a host of ways.

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature3_images2The company has created the Nespresso Club, which maintains direct relationships with thousands of customers. Its customer service centers are staffed by 1,000 highly trained coffee experts who don’t just push products but offer advice and guidance as a sommelier might do with wine. Its 450 retail stores (up from just one Parisian in 2000) are called boutiques; the largely inventory-free showrooms are built around tasting and learning.

Online, the focus is on efficiency and service. Customers who prefer digital interactions can order through the web site or mobile app, which offers the option of courier delivery within a two-hour window. The company also recently introduced a Bluetooth-enabled coffee machine, which when paired with a smartphone app, can track a customer’s usage, simplify machine maintenance, and as Wired pointed out, enable remote brewing.

Success didn’t happen overnight, but today Nespresso is one of Nestlé’s fastest growing and most profitable brands, according to Bloomberg.

QVC: Using Online to Complement the Experience

The theme that has driven television-shopping giant QVC’s customer experience for decades has been “inspiration and entertainment.” Traditionally that was delivered through the joy of spontaneous discovery while watching the channel.

Matching that experience online has been difficult, however. At a digital retail conference in 2015, QVC’s CEO explained that in the past the company had failed to deliver the same rich interactions online that it had developed with its TV audiences, according to Total Retail. So the company decided to rethink its use of digital tools to focus on complementing the experience it delivers through TV screens, according to RetailWire.

For example, after enticing TV viewers with products, QVC introduces the next step in the buying journey—“impulse to buy”—in which viewers are spurred on with televised countdown clocks or limited merchandise availability. Online, the company has been experimenting with second-screen content (for instance, recipes that compliment a cooking product being sold on TV) to further propel purchases. The QVC app features the same item that is on-air along with a prompt that reveals all the items featured on TV in recent hours. On Apple devices equipped with Touch ID, customers can check out in less than 10 seconds with the fingerprint-enabled “speed buy” button. The third phase—“purchase and receive”—is complemented by a simple and reliable online browsing and purchasing platform. The last stage—“own and enjoy”—is accompanied by follow-on e-mail communication with tips on how to use products.

Last year, the company reported that 44% of total QVC sales came from online channels (up from 40% in 2014), and nearly half of those were completed on a mobile device. In fact, QVC is currently the tenth largest mobile commerce retailer in the United States, according to Internet Retailer.

Domino’s: Focusing on Speed and Convenience

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature3_images3Domino’s Pizza built a fast-food empire not necessarily on the quality of its pies but instead on the experience of getting hot food delivered quickly. What started out as a promise to deliver a pizza within 30 minutes to customers who phoned in their order is now a themed experience of efficient food delivery that can be fulfilled a number of ways. Domino’s AnyWare project enables customers to order pizzas from their TV, their Twitter account, their smartwatch, or their connected car, for starters. The Domino’s app features zero-click ordering functionality: Domino’s will start fulfilling the usual order for customers who opt in 10 seconds after opening the app.

Domino’s Australian stores are piloting GPS tracking whereby employees begin working on an order only when the customer enters the “cook zone”—a dynamically updated area around a given store that results in the customer arriving to a just-prepared order. The tool builds upon previously developed GPS-based technology for tracking delivery drivers, according to ZDNet. And the company that came up with the corrugated pizza box and the Heatwave Bag to keep pies warm is now building the DXP—a delivery car with a built-in warming oven. All in the name of the fast- and hot-food delivery experience.

Mohawk Industries: Using Social to Streamline Customer Interactions

Mohawk Industries grew to become a US$8 billion flooring manufacturer by relying on customers to visit its dealers’ retail locations to see, touch, and feel the carpet, hardwood, laminate, or tile they planned to purchase.

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature3_images4Today, instead of waiting for customers to find Mohawk, it has redesigned its experience to find them. It has adopted new technology and reworked its sales processes to reflect that new focus. The company’s 1,200 sales representatives have access to a 360-degree view of each customer, complete with analytics and sales tools on their tablets, enabling them to capture and follow through on leads generated through social media engagement.

By analyzing online discussions in real time, representatives can jump into the conversation and help customers find the product they may be searching for and direct the consumer to a retailer to finish the sale. In one episode, a woman was posting about her interest in a particular leopard rug on Twitter. Mohawk’s team surfaced the tweet, passed it on to a channel partner who contacted the woman and closed the sale within two minutes. Today, the company boasts an 80% close rate on sales started and guided in social media and has made $8 million on 14,000 such social leads. Mohawk Industries expects an increase of $25 million in sales year-over-year, thanks to its new customer-centric approach.

Customer Experience Design: Where to Begin

Developing a unique, valuable, and relevant customer experience that combines the best of offline and online capabilities is a huge undertaking. All corporate functions, including marketing, customer service, sales, operations, finance, and HR as well as product or business lines—all of which typically have competing metrics and agendas—must buy into the experience and collaborate to make it happen. And the ideal mix of digital and physical components will vary by company. But there are some best practices to get companies started on their own journeys.

Start at the Top

Without leadership buy-in, changes will not happen. “Customer experience is not a feature, it’s not a shiny button. It’s a concept that sometimes is tough to grasp. But we believe that if done right, it will keep customers loyal. And so we put a lot of effort into it,” says Kevin Scanlon, director of total customer experience at tech company EMC. “That’s why having that top-down support is paramount. If you don’t have it, you’re spinning your wheels. It’s going to give you the resources, the focus, and the attention that you need to design that consistent experience.”

To demonstrate its commitment, every VP and above at EMC has a customer experience metric as part of their quarterly goal.

Begin with the End in Mind

Companies can take a page from the design-thinking approach to product development, starting with the experience they want customers to have with their company and then putting in place the people, processes, and systems to make that happen across various touchpoints. Uber didn’t start by buying 1,000 cars. It started with a completely new customer experience it wanted to deliver—straddling the digital and physical—and then built the organization around that. Uber ultimately leveraged people, process, and technology to bring that to life, but it started with a unique customer journey.

Design for the Customer, Not the Company

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature3_images5To date, most corporate processes have been designed for internal efficiency or cost savings with little consideration for the impact on the customer. Companies that want to design for consistent experiences have to reexamine those business processes from the customer perspective. In order to deliver a standout and consistent experience, enterprises must bring together an assortment of data from a variety of systems—including POS transactions, mobile purchases, call center activity, notes from sales calls, and social media.

The average retailer has customer data in more than a dozen different systems. But it’s not just the front-end customer-facing systems that need orchestrating; back office systems and processes, from your supply chain to fulfillment to customer service, must be designed to deliver the intended experience. For example, Nespresso has to orchestrate a number of back-end and front-end systems to offer customers premium courier delivery within two-hour windows.

Put Someone in Charge

Companies that are truly invested in creating integrated, standout customer experiences often create a centralized function that can bring together the people, processes, and technology to bring them to life. Sometimes there is a chief customer officer or head of customer experience. But unless these people are really empowered, they’re toothless.

EMC’s Scanlon is empowered. He heads up a function that has been transformed from focusing on product quality into a centralized customer experience center of excellence staffed with 60 full-time professionals. The center has translated into “more focus, more energy, more insight to our customers,” says Scanlon. “And we can deliver that insight to our internal stakeholders, which trickles down to our account teams and lets them have more meaningful conversations that benefit our customers—and benefit the company over time.”

Centralize Customer Data

Even if there is no central customer experience function, there needs to be a central data repository and analytics system: a digital foundation that everyone can use to improve their piece of that experience. EMC’s customer experience group has a data governance function that maintains a single source of customer truth. “They’re able to pull all relevant data sources into one location and get past the typical customer data challenges,” says Scanlon.

Invest in People

Companies that care about the customer experience invest in the people who deliver it. Human beings are the clearest signposts on the customer journey. Companies must hire the best, train for desired outcomes, and reward based on experience metrics: for being brand ambassadors and for going above and beyond on behalf of the customer.

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature3_images6Rethink Metrics and Incentives

One major bank was having trouble driving adoption of its online banking tools. The customers that used the tools loved them, but the tools weren’t getting traction. The problem? The branch managers had no interest in promoting digital banking. They wanted to drive as much traffic as possible to their physical branches because this was one of their key performance metrics.

The solution was to change the compensation approach in order to reward employees for the entire customer experience, including online banking adoption. Branch managers were measured on online and offline customer behavior in their regions. That became a single and critical KPI, and it boosted the desired behaviors and improved overall customer satisfaction.

Create a Single View of the Company

For years, companies have talked about the importance of understanding the customer. And that remains true, particularly when it comes to delivering a valuable customer experience online and off. But successful customer experience design is just as much about giving customers a clear understanding of the company through coordinated experiences that deliver on the brand’s theme and bring it to life in various ways in bricks and mortar, through devices, in online interactions, and everywhere in between. D!

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.



This Is What Customer Experience Will Look Like In 2020

Mark de Bruijn

Since we are living in an age where retail chains go bust by the score, the need for an optimal customer experience is clearer than ever. Modern technology offers many opportunities to enrich the experience even further, especially since it is developing at breakneck speed. But what will customer experience look like, say, four years from now?

By 2020, the way we consume will look like this:

Digital assistants everywhere, but the human touch retains its value

Siri and Cortana are examples of the digital assistants we know now: nice little smartphone tools that amuse us with funny conversations and the occasional surprising answer. In short: an entertaining waste of time. However, digital assistants will have evolved considerably in the near future.

They will offer truly useful conversations and will assist us in making the right choices. Some web shops are experimenting with chatbots and wizards that attempt to offer real advice. By 2020, these systems will have matured and offer real and useful advice based on targeted open and closed questioning.

They will also become a staple in brick-and-mortar shops. One good example of where we are heading is Robot Pepper. This physical robot is able to start a conversation and – assuming it is programmed to do so – assist you in buying products suitable to your needs. In 2020, the first stores will open where such robots take over part of the advisory role so far performed by humans.

However, I am convinced humans will always be needed. But their role will change. Robots will take care of basic customer care, while humans will remain indispensable for more advanced forms of advice that need a human touch. There are many examples of organizations that have subjected an excessively large part of their customer care services to automation.

Also, well-functioning self-service facilities will become more important and will be indispensable by 2020. This includes self-service portals or active user communities where customers can ask their questions.

Interactive shops increase shopping districts attractiveness

In 2020, brick-and-mortar stores will need to think even more about their relevance. The good news is that technology offers countless opportunities to give a tremendous boost to the shopping experience. In 2020, physical shopping will be a true experience thanks to sensors, touch screens and beacons. The only hurdle here is creativity. That is a good thing, because shopping should be sexy.

Let’s take for example a sneaker store. The moment a customer passes the store, he will get a personalized deal offer on his smartphone. The newest addition to his favorite line of sneakers is available with 20% off, and in stock at this store. Once inside, he will explain to the digital assistant that he is looking for a sneaker suitable for a novice runner. Immediately, some of the shelves light up. When he picks up one of the sneakers, a video is shown on a large screen that explains the shoe’s unique features. When fitting the sneaker, beamers project walking exercises on the shop floor to test out some of its features. Finally, the mirror can show him how different colors and other varieties would look on him using augmented reality.

Hyper-individualisation brings product and shopping experience closer to the consumer

Stores and brands will increasingly collect customer data in 2020. They generate detailed profiles based on purchases in the past and data submitted by the customer. Moreover, owing to the Internet of Things they can learn important lessons about consumer behavior. Products will be equipped with more sensors than ever before, generating knowledge on which features are successful and which ones are not. They can also advise individual customers about timely replacements, for example.

How will this play out in practice? In the interest of simplicity, I’ll stick to the sneaker store for now. Customers who want to, can get measurements on their walking patterns, soles and weight. Based on that data, they can get advise on the footwear that best suits their needs, both in the physical store and online. Because the account of the sneaker store is linked to a fitness platform, the customer’s fitness level becomes a personal attribute.

The customer still controls the details he wants to share. Privacy will remain an important topic in 2020, and the most successful companies will respect it.

Smartphone as a powerful “second screen”

In our daily lives, smartphones have become indispensable. We wake up with them and we go to sleep with them. Mobile applications need to work without issue and be optimized for small screens. Never should they be felt as an impediment. Acceptance of unpleasant mobile experiences is very poor, and for good reason.

In 2020 the smartphone is a very useful tool for retailers to further enrich customer experience in brick-and-mortar stores. Not only do customers get more product content by simply scanning its label, they can also find product reviews, information on related products, personalized advice and perhaps even pricing history due to links with independent online comparison tools.

Supermarkets can profit much more from smartphone use as well. Not only can customers quickly create shopping lists at home, but in 2020 the app will also show the right picking order based on the layout of the store. It also gives personalized advice for additional products and availability information on alternative products in case of an empty shelf.

Virtual reality offers a new home shopping experience

Virtual reality headsets will have made their definitive breakthrough in the living room in 2020. Consumers will not just use them for gaming, but also for home shopping sessions. They can literally walk through the virtual store from the comfort of their couches. Retailers will enjoy the traditional advantages of brick-and-mortar stores in an online setting: the element of surprise, the ability to steer to impulse buying and strategic product placement.

The digital setting also offers a unique feature that is not available for brick-and-mortar stores. The store’s layout and even the inventory are fully customizable to the preferences and habits of each individual customer.

A new level of delivery

People who like to order their shopping from the comfort of their couches would still like to get a hold of the products as soon as possible. Today, even webshops with the tightest logistical operations need at least two day parts to close the delivery. That may be fast, but in 2020 it will be nothing special. By that time we will also have more delivery options at our disposal. Returning packages will be much easier in 2020 than it is now.

A number of experiments with drones show the potential of this delivery method, and perhaps drones will be able to pick up returns at agreed times in the future as well. This would require changes in law and regulations, however. Another cool development is the appearance of parcel pickup stations at railway stations. By 2020, these parcel pickup stations will be much more widely available.

The customer at the center of the product lifecycle

Currently, the costumer is usually located at the end of a product’s lifecycle. However, by 2020 “crowdsourced design” will have become a serious method for product lifecycles. That means the customer is very actively involved in product design or choice in variants. This way, producers capitalize on customer creativity and wisdom, which results in products that meet target audience requirements. One good example is Tesco. The retail giant actively involved its customers in the development of a new wine.

Customer and brand will be closer to each other in 2020 than ever before. Thanks to modern technology, customers are able to give instant feedback, be involved, and choose different variants of a product. At the same time, the Internet of Things provides insight in actual use. This will assist producers to improve the product.

Of course, looking at the future is reading the tea leaves in the bottom of the cup. One thing is absolutely certain though. Enterprises that know their customers best and map out the “customer adventure” most effectively will prevail.

For more insight on where the customer experience is now and where it is headed, see The Reality Of Customer Experience In Today’s Organizations.