2021 Results And Outlook For 2022

December 15, 2021  |  Peter Ryan

To start off, with 2021 I’ve observed a number of different things that I think really play into both the business and the consumer side of the technology equation. One of the biggest things that I think has been fascinating from the perspective of technology has been the overarching embrace by organizations regardless of industry to use Artificial Intelligence in the broader CX context. Artificial Intelligence for a long time has been a very nebulous idea. If you were to ask a few years ago a hundred different executives what AI meant to them, you’d probably get 100 different answers. But over the course of 2021, I really have a sense that the ability to leverage what AI can do from a CX perspective, has really been a priority for organizations.

And the sellers, the providers of AI technologies have done a great job in terms of being able to refine down what some of the key functional areas of AI actually are. In many cases, we’ve seen this from the perspective of understanding the customer and being able to predict what the customer might want to be looking for in regards to future purchases. It might have to do with assisting agents on the front line in regards to doing their own jobs and helping them be that much more efficient, and that – much faster to action.

That ties into another technology trend and that’s Knowledge Management. One of the things that I’ve witnessed over the course of the past 12 months, much more than I’ve seen in previous years, is the willingness of organizations to use knowledge management solutions as a way of positioning different solutions and products in front of the consumer as a means of driving new revenues.

Now over the course of previous years, there have been a lot of knowledge management elements out there. But really 2021 was the year where I’ve seen this taken off and I think it’s a great endorsement of the different solutions that are out there in regards to agent assist and an agent working with technology hand in hand to make the business do that much better.

And as we know, there’s much more of a propensity for a consumer to buy from an organization, not just if they get great service, but if they think that the organization understands what they’re going to want to buy in the future across the customer life cycle.

In terms of a final element around technology, I truly think analytics is having a bit of a rebirth. We could be calling it Analytics 2.0. But the ability to take large amounts of information, to be able to process them, to get down to that granular level of understanding, who the individual consumer is across multiple different platforms, whether it’s voice, digital -you name it – that’s been a very important factor over the course of the past 12 months that I’ve seen a lot of organizations embrace. To my mind, it’s going to take on a life of its own going forward into 2022.

I think that Mark enunciated some fantastic elements there in terms of 2022, what it holds from a technology standpoint. I’ve got a few myself. Mark and I had some overlap, but I just want to speak to a few that I certainly see coming into play. One of the ones that I think is going to be very important moving into 2022, is using the technology around video and video chat as a means of enabling CX. I had a really fascinating discussion not long ago with a leading proponent of a video who is talking a little bit about the fact that it’s becoming very much a part of our lives.

Over the course of the past 18 months or so, video conferencing became a big part of what we did from a business standpoint, and then it was our best way to connect with friends and family. But now what we’re seeing is the intersection between the consumer and the business from a customer experience standpoint.

I think a lot of these types of elements have been driven traditionally by some of the higher value elements of the economy, perhaps a client speaking with an insurance agent or an investment counselor. But now it’s getting into healthcare. That’s become a much bigger part of what we’ve seen over the course of the past nearly two years. Equally speaking, people are much more willing to speak with a representative on video chat, if they’re going to be purchasing things like automobiles, perhaps a new appliance, perhaps getting into a discussion about a vacation they might want to take when traveling reopens. I think Mark made a very good point about the element of virtual reality and the ability to almost meld virtual reality applications and solutions in with a video chat. So that you can be taken through a hotel or through a leisure resort to understand better about what you’re going to be expecting once you get on the ground. These are some really exciting elements, when it comes to a whole new level of CX, a different plane entirely to what we’ve been dealing with. And I think, Mark’s example about using the traditional e-commerce giving you a list of different products versus actually giving you experience  – that’s where we’re going to go in 2022 in that regard.

Another element around technology in 2022 is going to be driven by AI.  And that comes down to trust and safety. One of the things that we’ve been picking up a lot on in research with Ryan Strategic Advisory is the fact that social media has truly become the go-to digital platform when it comes to customer experience management.

In fact, in the last survey that we did, the arena of social media was now the second most deployed channel for customer experience support, after voice by organizations across major leading consumer demand markets. But this has brought in a whole series of different challenges in terms of how social media management comes down in forums and especially in public areas.

The whole element around trust and safety has taken on a life of its own. We’ve been seeing a lot of reports about agents, who are involved in trust and safety elements of the contact center or the CX dynamic, being able not to have the same exposure to some very disturbing elements of their job that they would have seen previously. Due to AI solutions, they’re effectively filtering out, perhaps, some of the more nefarious elements, allowing them to concentrate on the parts of their job that they’re able to do well. This helps ensure a longer shelf life for the agents themselves.

I’d also point out the fact is we’re talking a little bit about AI-driven solutions. The fact that there’s going to be a lot more of an emphasis on automated solutions, using AI technology, going into 2022 from a CX perspective. There’s no question, I think, in the minds of anybody that automation has proven its worth, it’s proven the value of investment in the CX space, but what it has to do – it has to be able to increase its reach.

In fact, I remember a few years ago people were saying that perhaps 20 percent of interaction can be handled by an automated interface and then the remaining 80 percent has to go to an agent. That 20 percent is going to grow and it’s going to be growing based on not just good architecture of the automated solutions, but also the AI platforms that are driving the right types of interactions that those automated solutions can deliver.

So watch for a lot of that I think across all aspects of the CX economy in 2022. And just a final thought a little bit about what’s happening for 2022 from a technology perspective. I think the emphasis on cyber security and the solutions around cyber security is going to be ramping up. This is from a CX angle and it’s going to be from a broader economic angle. There are no two ways about it. We are seeing more and more attempts at nefarious activity by threat actors around the world. The weekly news doesn’t go by without some type of a story in regards to how there have been actions or hacking actions. That compromises customer security. So watch for the security and data protection element around CX to become even more ratcheted up from a technology angle going into the following 12 months.


Learn about the results of 2021 and hear predictions for 2022 in terms of technology and business from a leading technology writer and analyst Mark Hillary.

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