Companies that have committed to the customer experience—factoring in the people, processes, technology, and organizational structure required to facilitate it—are outperforming their peers, according to new research from Adobe, CMO.com’s parent company.
That’s right: Organizations with a cross-team CX approach were nearly twice as likely to have exceeded their top 2017 business goals (20% vs. 11%), according to Adobe’s 8th annual “Digital Trends” report, which surveyed almost 13,000 marketing, creative, and technology professionals in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Asked about top opportunities for 2018, optimizing CX came out on top, as indicated by 19% of respondents, ahead of data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual (16%) and creating compelling content for digital experiences (14%). The top strategic priority for organizations in 2018 is content and experience management. Almost half (45%) of companies surveyed ranked this as one of their three most important priority areas for the year ahead, with 20% who stated it is their primary focus.
Also of note: The majority of survey respondents said that a mix of data and creativity will be their main differentiator.
“Experience is seen as the differentiator for companies,” said John Watton, senior director, enterprise marketing, EMEA, at Adobe. “Over the last few years we’ve kind of over-rotated toward data and the need to understand insights to drive decisions. Those are now table stakes for organizations. What companies are realizing is that you still need that emotional connection, and that takes data-informed creativity.”
This recognition has pushed many businesses to invest more in design. In fact, 73% of survey respondents said their companies are doing so to differentiate their businesses. Additionally, organizations that consider themselves design-driven are 69% more likely than their peers to have exceeded their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (22% vs. 13%). Organizations that value creativity also were 46% more likely to have exceeded their 2017 business goals by a noteworthy margin (19% vs. 13%).
Looking three years out, respondents said they are most excited about delivering personalized experiences in real time. This was by far the most popular choice across all regions, cited by more than a third (36%) of company respondents and 40% of agencies.
According to the report, just 15% of organizations are currently using AI. But 31% said it is on the agenda for the next 12 months—and that’s substantial, Watton said.
“AI and its ability to parse through massive amounts of data to formulate insights is a main driver of this creative renaissance that is occurring within businesses today,” Watton said.
For those already in the AI fray, top-performing companies were more than twice as likely as their peers to be using the technology for marketing (28% vs. 12%). Unsurprisingly, analysis of data is a key AI focus for businesses, and on-site personalization was the second most commonly cited use case for AI.
“What this year’s report shows is that customer experience is top-of-mind for companies, and they know that it will take a mix of data and design to deliver amazing experiences,” Watton told CMO.com. “AI will take care of the data and insights portion, freeing up professionals to focus on what people are good at: creativity and emotional connections.”
Check out the report infographic below.