As 2017 draws to a close, we've done some research in partnership with OnePoll to help you better understand some of the most talked-about customer experience (CX) technologies. And as we saw last year, we've found that those views often contrast starkly with levels of excitement amongst digital professionals.
Our research has focussed on five key areas of technology that are increasingly influencing the digital customer experience: mobile payments, voice assistants, chatbots, virtual reality and augmented reality. To quantify how much hype these topics are generating, we turned to Google News. This showed us the number of news stories mentioning each topic in 2017 to date.
As a gauge of global interest, encompassing both industry and consumer perspectives, we've also pulled together average monthly worldwide Google search volumes for the key terms within each topic. Data from Google News and Google Keyword Planner was gathered on 24th November 2017, running from 1st January. Within each topic, we included a selection of related terms; e.g. for voice assistants, we included data for ‚Alexa', ‚Amazon Echo', ‚Google Home' and ‚smart speakers', as well as the exact phrase ‚voice assistants'.
And finally, to contrast and contextualise this data, we commissioned OnePoll to survey a nationally-representative group of 1,000 British adults to reveal more about the prevailing awareness of and attitudes towards these technologies, and towards digital experiences in general. So, onto the findings‚
We have summarised our findings in the following infographic. Below this, we offer some additional commentary and analysis, along with some comparisons with our findings from last year.
Augmented and virtual reality were by far the top-covered trends in terms of news coverage when we conducted similar research at the end of 2016. In 2017, that dominance continued. From January to late November, augmented reality generated 41.3 million news stories, up 71% from 2016. Virtual reality received 29.7 million pieces of coverage in 2017, up 81%.
Voice assistants collectively generated 11m news mentions, whilst mobile payments (195k) and chatbots (162k) have generated far less coverage by comparison. Both have, however, received significantly more coverage than last year. Google search data from their Keyword Planner tells a similar story in terms of the relative popularity of these technologies. This time though, it's VR rather than AR that's being searched for the most. Within that, Oculus Rift' has been searched for globally 550k times a month on average in 2017 (actually down 55% from 1.22m in 2016), compared to 450k monthly searches for ‚HTC Vive' (down 45%)and 368k for ‚Google Cardboard' (down 55%).
Voice and conversational interfaces are clearly an important and exciting space for brands in 2018, but the execution needs to be right for the audience and the task at hand; voice experiences shouldn't be created at the expense of getting existing digital services right. Augmented and virtual reality appear to be somewhere between the peak of inflated expectations‚ and trough of disillusionment‚ currently.
Brands like IKEA are proving the commercial potential of AR, whilst VR is already well-established in the entertainment arena. For many businesses though, the immediate value in these technologies may be unclear. What is clear is that these technologies are absolutely here to stay, with applications way beyond gaming and storytelling, and whilst some early examples may have been underwhelming, consumers are more open to using them than you might think.
In the payment space, Bitcoin may be hogging the limelight right now, but that shouldn't distract from the importance of simply making payments effortless for your customers. In 2018, there's no excuse for not making your checkout process as seamless as possible and giving people the easiest options available.
At Code, we believe that digital products need to be constantly iterated and improved, hence our tagline, Brilliant Never Stops. Our latest research certainly backs this up. That said, often it's the brands willing to look further ahead and do things differently that reap the biggest rewards.
So how can you embrace innovation without taking ridiculous risks? The key is to approach innovative projects as experiments: learn fast, and learn from real users to see whether it's the right solution for your customers. If the answer is yes, you can be ready to capitalise early on the next big thing. If the answer is no, that's fine too ‚ the goal is to recognise this before large scale investment.
As our Managing Director Louis Georgiou has suggested, the real customer experience trend in 2018, for businesses at least, might be a shift to continuous delivery coupled with 'discovery' projects. Taking an iterative approach to improving the customer experience means only building digital products that work and that real users have responded positively to in tests. Put simply: build, measure, learn.
If you'd like a copy of the raw data from our research and consumer survey, or just want to chat about the findings, Tweet us @Computerlovers.