The Experience Journey Gets Complicated

My ongoing work on emerging future scenarios has driven a renewed focus on experience. Several factors are converging to shift the experience end game; specifically, the evolution of Ecosystems and the transformation of Interaction. These two forces – themselves the result of combinatorial innovation – are converging. While the way we interact continues to shift, a parallel evolution towards ecosystems is occurring. This ecosystem evolution introduces systemic complexity and combines with a shifting interaction paradigm to alter the way we think about experience.

Interaction Paradigm Shifts Phase OneFigure 1: Phase One of a pending shift in interaction paradigms

How we interact – and the ecosystems we interact in – will drive a shift in our traditional views of experience. This broader view culminates in the seamless enablement of our life experiences, driven by a gradual shift towards a purpose orientation. Shifts of this magnitude require an adaptive foundation that allows us to move effectively with each shift. Yet, many organizations still struggle with building such a foundation for the digital era (let alone the emerging one), and this lies at the heart of future viability and relevance.

As with any venture we undertake in this age of pace-driven challenge, a future-oriented view is vital. Future Thinking is a highly iterative process supported by continuous rehearsal. Our efforts to create experiences is no exception, and this post from 2013 talked about next generation experiences with that in mind. The visual from that post (below) focused on experience drivers (center circle), and the actions that enable our evolution (around the circle). I’ll describe each:

Individuals and Purpose: in my piece on 2017 predictions, I referenced a shift in focus to human well-being and purpose.  Taken together, these shifts emphasize our own life experiences – whether it’s the simple task of hailing a cab or the complicated task of improving medical outcomes. Innovators will remove friction from one experience after another, initially via platforms and ultimately through a finite set of ecosystems. This shift towards well-being and happiness will gain traction, penetrating the mission statements of many more companies. The eventual impact on our standard of living was explored in a recent post titled Revolution and the Innovation Wheel.

The transformation of interaction: as described in the previously mentioned post on interaction, our mode of interaction witnessed a third transformation, as touch became a critical piece of our everyday experiences. Now, we find ourselves approaching the next significant change in interaction paradigms: the Fourth Transformation driven by mixed reality. With each transformation, experience speeds up and the ease in which we accomplish things is enhanced. The speed at which these innovations are emerging has taken even the best prognosticators by surprise, and ongoing shifts make experience a moving target. All of this places a premium on a holistic digital foundation as an enabling platform.

Interaction Paradigm Shifts Phase TwoFigure 2: Phase two of a pending shift in interaction paradigms

Needs: as friction is removed in one area, it sets an expectation in another – and experience is the value creation mechanism. Unknown needs suddenly become must-haves at an accelerating pace. How does any organization stay connected to an emerging set of needs that appear rapidly? This phenomenon elevates the importance of foresight, mechanisms for accelerated learning, rapid innovation, the need for continual rehearsing, and insight from ecosystems.

Next Generation ExperienceFigure 3: next generation experience drivers and enablers

Environmental complexity: addressed in the previously mentioned post on ecosystem evolution, systemic complexity is introduced as horizontal ecosystems emerge. All aspects of experience get complicated by the sheer number of platforms and stakeholders involved. In a future state, the platform brokers frictionless experience. But the evolution to that state is complicated by fragmentation, interoperability challenges, and the potential for an extended period without true experience brokers.

Commoditization: as these forces play out, traditional methods of value creation get commoditized, and platforms drive marginal cost closer to zero. Organizations (and by that I mean business, government, etc.) must determine their role in future value equations. As experience becomes the dominant form of differentiation, one must understand their role in creating the intended experience. Speed to innovation becomes paramount and more and more businesses will get focused in specific areas. The key to differentiation increasingly shifts to analytics and software excellence.

Collapsing barriers and boundaries: barriers to entry are falling. Today, start-ups enter markets quickly, and then scale to attack other sectors. Entrants from other Industries are disrupting the core business of industry mainstays. Add to this the ecosystem-driven blurring of industry boundaries and it is clear we are entering a period of significant structural change. Leaders should embrace change by letting go of traditional belief systems. Collaboration excellence and a shift from firm-centric behavior to ecosystem thinking are critical enablers. Ecosystem thinking manifests itself through value design and associated ecosystem models.

As stated above, two macro level trends creates systemic complexity and challenge future experience agendas. The shifting ways we interact in the future (visualized above); and the emergence of horizontal ecosystems that increasingly represent the source of value creation and capture:

Ecosystem Maturity ModelFigure 4: Ecosystem Maturity Model
Interaction Paradigm Shifts - Systemic ComplexityFigure 5: convergence of these forces

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