IDC Social Predictions 2016: Top 10 Predictions – Part Two

2015-6predictionsThe second guest post from Vanessa Thompson to talk about the predictions for 2016 that the team developed from the drivers discussed in her previous post.

Every year we “predict” 10 things that we expect to happen in a time frame between now and the next 24 months. This year we have continued to transition the definition of social business toward business modernization. We can no longer talk about social applications or even applications that are social. Overtime all applications will be inherently social.

The focus should be to think about the overarching technology convergence that is changing the way that we interact, transact and get work done. A core component of this is the combination of a new set of connected users who have an increasing requirement to access information to make decisions. This could be a customer making a purchase, an employee trying to make a decision or a partner looking for support from a vendor.

Aligned to these themes, we have come up with the following 10 Predictions:

  1. By 2017, 30% of organizations will be using tools that offer automated assistance or assistive technology to support ad hoc tasks.

Users are expected to do more with less and as such are becoming increasingly reliant on a breadth of tools and technologies to support decisions. Organizations should look to simple productivity hacks as a first step into investment. The most successful organizations have a strong grasp of the value of their users and have drawn a strong link between meeting customer needs and meeting the needs of their users. This comes through providing the right tools and support to users to get their job done with more urgency and accuracy. Once able to demonstrate positive business metrics with basic automated assist technologies, organizations may be able to expand into more complex and extensive implementations.

  1. By 2020, 50% of companies will have consistent and measureable customer experience strategies in place in order to deliver business metrics to senior management

There is no one side to the issue of business benefit assessment from a customer experience strategy. It is neither an IT nor a pure business responsibility. It is a true partnership where line of business and management must enlist technologists in the pursuit of meaningful metrics. Management is cautioned not to “pull the plug” on CX strategies too early. By-product benefits from CX, not direct share of wallet or bottom-line increases, may well lead to, for example, reduced employee turnover. A CX strategy in its full systems impact may surface within supporting process benefits before core CX outcomes necessitating broad targeted analytics instrumentation of the entire organization.

  1. By 2017, 30% of large enterprise organizations will be impacted by business model disruption and will be forced to make significant operational changes.

Businesses must look for opportunities to change business models by leveraging the rapidly changing tech landscape, particularly when there is a chance to change from a product to a service and when connecting people in a marketplace or community could change the way that industry operates. In addition, it is critical to put support systems in place that are integrated, that have service business model billing and tracking capabilities, and that connect people, things, and networks.

Many accounting systems in place today are set up for the sale of products, not recurring revenue from ongoing services. It may be necessary, for example, to install a subscription billing module to implement the business model change. Gaining insight from complete data models might be the driver for an innovation, but it cannot be accomplished without the integrated and federated data model behind the decision processes.

  1. By 2020, 30% of all purchases will be made through an online community.

Communities enable brands and organizations to build a network of customers and partners, building a strong and deep trust relationship with that brand or organization over time. Bringing interactions and transactions closer together enables a brand or company to offer a more consistent experience to users. In turn, this will allow brands and companies to more actively and accurately target the future potential touch points of customers, partners, and suppliers. With transactions moving into the community, there also needs to be a seamless hands-off process between the existing interactions and transaction.

  1. By 2017, two out of five companies will invest in workforce optimization initiatives to support employee tool preferences.

Workforce optimization fosters positive business outcomes by leveraging the tools and processes that create an agile structure and facilitate relationships and interactions to achieve outcome-based assembly, execution, and governance of work. Employees are increasingly asked to produce more in the working environment, so providing more flexibility in how work gets done could also yield increased benefits in terms of work output. Users should also be able to have the flexibility of choice in the applications they use, but that should be tempered with those applications being agile and iterative in nature to support ad hoc and non-deterministic interactions.

  1. By 2017, 40% of companies will be actively ‘listening’ to their employees on social to gauge engagement and improve customer satisfaction

The value of employee engagement surveys is being questioned by many organizations, but they still pursue this as an annual effort for lack of alternatives. Listening not only informs the enterprise on employee sentiment but also supplies needed information on how the employee is interacting with customers and may be perceived by customers, both represent information that employee surveys cannot provide. It will be essential to capture specific metrics around employee behaviors that impact experiences. Enterprises will need to view public employee social activity as an extension of the entire corporate brand.

  1. By 2018, 15% of organizations will go to just-in-time project staffing models tapping talent wherever it is regardless of organizational affiliation

Every employee is now a connected “information worker”. As employees get asked to do more in their daily work, it will become important to augment those roles with other staff to support more immediate goals. Recruiting and onboarding will look very different from the status quo. Understanding how users are interacting on a task level can add insight into how an organization may be able to scale up and add talent where and when required but also how to incentivize users in the future. Gaining a better understanding of the workforce from recruit to retire means understanding not only the outcomes and outputs but also the skills and dynamics of employees. This will be a critical future imperative.

  1. By the end of 2018, 65% of support interactions will be digital and social/community support will not be called out as a separate function.

Introducing formal policies and SLAs for digital support interactions is not merely a matter of adding social media as a channel to the service management process, it also requires substantial investments to educate personnel on how to respond over public social media and what language to use. Errors through private channels can be quarantined, but on social media, the impact of some events can be amplified across all social networks (including customers, partners, and employees), which could potentially harm brand perception. Nevertheless, to deliver a superior customer experience, organizations will need to build a trust relationship with those certified to engage with customers over public networks. IDC would recommend assessing both IT and support workforce maturity to successfully merge the digital support channels.

  1. By the end of 2016, 50% of companies will have active management of communities and a focus on customer advocacy in the community.

As part of the transition to a unified experience, customer advocacy plays a key role where the company needs to not only support the community with active community management but also enable customers to become advocates through positive interactions in the community. The most successful communities have a strong grasp of the value of good community management, and the “profession” of community management will expand. This comes through educating and qualifying more managers with better tools to manage the advocacy journey inside the community.

  1. By 2018, 20% of businesses will rely on business networks for effective resource management

Effective resource management is the new agile, lean, and flexible business world of the post-recession era, and an Internet-connected business has quickly become a business reality to thrive and compete. Resources, people, capital, equipment, inventory, and data are much more scarce in today’s businesses and must be managed in a more flexible and adaptive manner. Being able to compete means having the capability to respond in real time or near real time to new threats, and assembling and/or reconfiguring resources around emerging threats is a key part of a credible response to these threats.


The confluence of cloud, mobile, and Internet business models is disrupting the technology that underpins interactions. Based on these changes alone, the pressure is rising to do things differently to become more competitive and relevant, increase growth, and be successful. Ultimately though, a broad understanding of the impacts of social interactions and business modernization efforts across customer experience, commerce, the workforce, innovation (products and services), and partner networks will help build a framework to approach this dynamic and tumultuous business environment.

2 thoughts on “IDC Social Predictions 2016: Top 10 Predictions – Part Two

  1. very interesting, agree with the concepts behind them (And the previous post as well), but i think you are putting too much value in organizations being able to master and manage a lot of these procesess and happenings that they won’t have the ability to do so (experiences, communities, engagement, participation – they cannot effect them directly by managing, as an example, but rather by becoming members of the same and influencing those changes).

    i think that influence versus affect is going to be the battle of the 2020s.

    nice summary otherwise 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment Esteban. It’s a fair statement that taken overall a business would likely be overwhelmed by the both the number of moving parts and the cultural shifts that would be tied to each. At the individual level though, it’s more manageable. Working through one or a smaller number of related changes, prioritized by the individual business based on specific circumstances seems at least less overwhelming. Also, in any large disruptive period of change, there are simply businesses that don’t make it. Maybe they choose to ignore the changes or just don’t see them, or maybe even just can’t assimilate change fast enough. Lot’s of historical examples of course, one’s we all know, Kodak and digital tech, Blackberry and touch interface (among several other missed trends), Blockbuster and delivery models, and many more. Now if we could only figure out a way to reliably predict which business are on the right/wrong course early enough to leverage the upside or prevent the down side…but I guess thats for tea leaf readers and crystal ball gazers 🙂

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