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It seemed like 2018 went by in a flash – with AI, robotics, blockchain, and data transparency dominating the conversations in technology. What’s in the cards for 2019? We’ve summarized our favorite tech trends, below. RPA, AI, CX, low-code, and marketing – it’s all there. Read on, then watch our predictions webinar for the inside scoop.

1. Digital transformation is going to get harder before it gets easier.

Enterprises are learning that digital transformation is more than just adding a new digital channel. It’s redesigning the core operations of an organization: legacy systems, silos, and historical processes. As teams go deeper within their organizations, they will uncover even more layers of silos to work across, less obvious pain points to identify, and a more complex path to solving customer challenges. This requires a lot more work. It also requires some real digital heroes – leaders like chief technologists and citizen developers – that are unafraid to try new approaches and assemble the cross-functional teams needed to really enact change. Leaders who need to understand and accept that digital transformation isn’t possible in three easy steps. It’s really the beginning of an ongoing state of change, and the way to tackle it is one customer journey at a time. By rethinking that one journey and how it touches every part of an operation from end-to-end, enterprises will then be ready to implement efficiencies that make operational processes and digital customer engagement easier.

2. There will be a seismic shift in the role of the modern marketer from a tactical to strategic player.

In 2018 we began to see the incorporation of AI-based marketing tools drive a need for marketers who have an understanding of how technologies can work together to create better efficiency, outstanding customer experiences, and personalized messaging for individual consumers across all channels in the marketer’s control. This shift is only going to accelerate in 2019. Marketers will pivot from servicing and executing sales tasks to having more control in developing strategies that achieve organizational objectives. As a result, marketing leaders will need to transform and reskill their teams to understand data science, creatively solve problems, and use new technologies at their disposal to deliver better business strategies and outcomes.

3. Customer service will become proactive.

In the past, the role of customer service was to “put out fires.” Now, by using technology like event detection to listen to patterns in data and AI-based analyses to decode it, organizations can detect a customer’s moment of need as it is happening – or even before it happens – and proactively provide help or resolve an issue. By listening for those moments of truth and taking a proactive approach, organizations can create better customer experiences while lowering costs. A true win/win.

4. The RPA bubble will burst.

As Pega Founder and CEO Alan Trefler suggests, organizations need a reality check to better understand where and how robotic process automation (RPA) can best add value, and plan accordingly. Until now, RPA has been considered a cure all for digital transformation and process inefficiencies, but business and tech leaders are discovering RPA is not right for every situation, doesn’t scale, and is hard to deploy. That’s why, in 2019, we’ll see RPA repositioned as a starting point. Organizations will shift their thinking toward real end-to-end operational efficiency, taking a holistic view across departments, functions, and processes, and begin implementing strategies that look to orchestrate these complex, interconnected workings. RPA will become one of the go-to tools for basic task automation and automated integrations – but only as part of a larger end-to-end operational approach.

5. Low-code development will be adopted at enterprise scale.

Mundane, manual coding is so 2018. In the coming year we’ll see more and more enterprises take on low-code in a huge way – using visual models and reusable building blocks to build and deploy applications within large CRM and operational systems. But techie developers won’t be the only ones building apps. They’ll work in partnership with citizen-developers, business analysts, data scientists, and user experience designers to build meaningful applications that transform businesses and customer experiences.

6. AI meets empathy.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has traditionally been used by organizations to determine the most relevant brand messaging. Instead of calculating what is best for the business, AI will be used more and more to determine what is best for the customer – to understand the customer’s point of view and how each customer’s life could be better and more enriching. Organizations will build into their enterprise operating systems AI-based functions that represent the voice of the customer, and constantly measure and analyze activities in terms of customer experience. AI-based information will also be fused with human agents to marry the scientific analysis of machine learning with human wisdom and judgement to deliver intelligent and empathetic customer experiences.

No matter what the future holds, be ready for change.

The right tech is only the beginning. Take a future-proof approach by applying design thinking principles to identify opportunities and speed enterprise-wide digital transformation. Then incorporate Agile methodologiesto foster cross-collaboration and innovation. Finally, leverage case management and process automation to make sure everyone is on the same page and tasks are orchestrated from end-to-end.

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