Revisiting Experiences

So far, I have revisited Automation, Digital Transformation, and Autonomous Vehicles. This reflection on the past continues with a look at experiences. Back in 2013, as part of a series on digital transformation, I focused on what at the time I referred to as Next Generation Experiences. Back then, the issues of customer experience, customer-centricity, and customer intimacy were top-of-mind and dominated many executive discussions and conference agendas. I envisioned a next generation experience anchored in how customers think about it, not the way functional silos do. Those experiences would be delivered by the stakeholder ecosystem, requiring experience strategies to include all stakeholders whether internal or external.

Creating the intended customer experience involves multiple functions and units from within a company, and likely involves external stakeholders. All stakeholders involved in delivering a differentiated experience should be identified and the experience ecosystem defined.

A Closer Look at Transformation: Next Generation Experiences

This view in 2013 anticipated the shift to ecosystems that involved multiple industries. Given the intense focus on ecosystems today, I believe this is playing out as expected. This complicates experience strategies. A stakeholder ecosystem should be involved in co-creating the intended experience and innovating around customer intimacy. As described in a post four years later, Several Factors are converging to shift the experience end game. The evolution towards ecosystems is combining with the transformation of Interaction to influence experience expectations. These two forces are themselves the result of combinatorial innovation. The way we interact was already shifting, and now the pandemic has accelerated the pace.

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.

The Experience Journey Gets Complicated

When considered in parallel with an evolution towards ecosystems, it introduces systemic complexity and alters the way we think about experience. Sometime in 2017, it became clear that the combination of ecosystems and a renewed focus on purpose would shift the conversation from next generation experiences to life experiences.

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 Experience Journey Gets Complicated

This visual (click on image to enlarge) captures the fundamentals of an experience discussion that increasingly shifts to our life experiences. Friction will be removed from those experiences – one experience at a time. In each of my reflection posts to date, things did not go as expected. The experience journey since 2013 feels like it as gone where envisioned. Ecosystem discussions are happening everywhere and the fourth transformation of interaction seems well underway – aided by an extreme event (pandemic). Two key observations: the complexity of these shifts makes Systems Thinking a critical leadership trait, and the experience battleground shifts both in terms of how we create them, and where we deliver them. Success in this new world of experience has a big Organizational and Structural component, making the journey as much about us as any stakeholder

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