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Starting 2022 hasn’t come with the enthusiasm that a new year would typically bring. We’re entering a third year of Covid-19, and whilst our physical worlds are smaller than they’ve ever been, our digital worlds are larger than ever before, and growing. The impacts of this are already evident but with any change also comes opportunity and growth. Looking at the year ahead, we see some areas of great challenge and opportunity that we will be collaborating with our clients on.

Not CX, but PX

Experience is not limited to customers: a growing trend is to pull back and look at all the different stakeholders who may experience an organisation, not just the customer. We call this People Experience (PX): we are all customers in some shape or form, but we are importantly also contributors, employees, partners, and more. A lot has been thrown at us these past two years, and the ‘Great Resignation’ that the pandemic has instigated is telling of shifting drivers and motivations. The spotlight is on what is expected and really valued by employees and contributors, with pressure on organisations to understand and act or face talent loss. What is important to us this year? What motivates us in our work? Are we finding fulfilment in our work? What support do we need? Employers should be proactively opening discussions with their teams and partners to determine how best to support and enable them.

Brand

One consequence of the aforementioned People Experience trend is an even greater emphasis on the organisation’s brand: what it represents, the organisation’s purpose (critical for retaining and attracting talent), and how the brand is experienced by all stakeholders – be they customers, employees, partners, suppliers, etc. Is your brand experience in line with your brand’s purpose? Is your brand being experienced consistently across all points of engagement? Are employee journeys given as much emphasis as customer journeys? Reflecting on such questions and starting small with changes that bring the most relevant impact to each organisation will be a common theme this coming year.

Technology resilience

The Covid-19 pandemic has tested the resilience of technology systems like never before. Business continuity and brand reputation have been adversely impacted in organisations with gaps in their system resilience and adaptability. Toilet paper jokes aside, industry supply chains are clear examples of some of these impacts, with empty supermarket shelves and construction shortages some of the very visible side effects of both technology and workforce issues. The higher education sector was forced to pivot when faced with the loss of international students and its systems are now faced with a returning influx. And the disruption is not over. Global cybercrime, data rules and regulations, price fluctuations, and dynamic international relations continue to add pressure, coupled with the need to deliver an excellent PX, both internally and externally. So how can organisations build resiliency and adaptability? Look at how digital services are created and deployed, identify the risks and threats, bake security in from the start, and design responses. Plan, test, monitor, measure, and leverage automation wherever possible to reduce error and increase efficiency. Foster a symbiotic relationship between technology and the business through the people and process layers. Whilst this may seem like a mountain to tackle, take the small first step by defining what is most important, and go from there.

Data

Despite the past two years accelerating our adoption of digital due to physical restrictions, data challenges remain relatively the same: how to glean insights from disparate (and ever growing) data sources, while keeping in line with evolving data rules and regulations. The latest thinking in machine learning and cognitive analysis holds much promise, however, we find most organisations are still struggling with the foundational layers. Data architecture, design, integration, and cleansing are the bare necessities to enable insights into the right data, as opposed to collecting more and more data, i.e., big data.  Healthy governance that is easy to maintain ensures compliance, and the right technological investments help democratise data for business users and reduce human error to avoid data breaches. The final basic building blocks are robust reporting and analytics mechanisms to make sense of quality data. When organisations get these layers right, they are capable of faster and better business decisions, competitive advantage, and improved brand and people experience.

Integral’s deep technical capability combined with the strategic and creative brand and experience capability crucially bring together IT, the business, and people experience. Our clients can access the compelling brand, marketing and digital front-end experiences they need to engage their people, and the robust back-end technology solutions to make those brand promises a reality.

We’d love to hear about your challenges and explore how we can collaborate with you to solve them. Please reach out to me via [email protected] for a chat or (virtual) coffee.

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