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The 11 Digital Trends Shaping CX and Marketing in 2020

Each year, I help kick-off Brand Innovators Mega-Trends event during CES. In the opening keynote, I share the trends (and hopes) I would love brand executives to embrace in the new year. In 2020, the presentation focused on “11 Digital Trends Shaping CX and Marketing.” There are certainly more than 11 trends to follow, but in the context of this conversation, I focused on the convergence of AI, customer empathy, digital distractions and intentions, and the technology that connects the dots to native, end-to-end experiences.

The presentation is available on Slideshare.


Times, tastes and trends always change. We live in an era of digital Darwinism, the evolution of technology and markets and its impact on norms and behaviors.


To better compete, we need to see the world through the eyes of the customer. This is why I believe that when we discuss “customer experience” as an imperative, we should shift perspective, add “‘s” and explore solutions and innovation from the “customer’s experience.”

The Emotional Cost

Customers live an incredibly demanding online life in addition to every other aspect of their day-to-day activities. Without even realizing it, people feel increased pressure to keep up, to consume and to share content. They unwittingly compare themselves to everything and everyone. The cognitive load of trying to balance everything creates undiagnosed anxiety and stress. Now add to this all of the polarization in social media and the exhausting news cycles fighting for our attention and emotion. This is the pervasive mindset and the feeling customers bring to decision-making and its affects their sentiment and the resulting experience and journey.


We live in a “post-truth” era yet truth is what we all need to feel safe and directed. The trust economy is upon us once again. Customer truth requires every brand to become a data-centric (and human) organization. Execution must be personal and value-added and mind the “creepy” line. Customers need to feel their truth in every way you engage them. Ironically, AI can humanize engagement beyond simply automating it. This is a time to be human, even if through technology.

Every company must become an empathetic, human-centered data company. CX and marketing innovation must prioritize cross-functional, organizational collaboration. Without doing so, assembling the pieces that from 360 customer truth will be incomplete and elusive.

Trend 1: The role of search is more important than ever before.

Position Zero in search is a new Holy Grail, but it isn’t the only window to discoverability. The key is to be discoverable via targeted contexts and platforms…then guide a personalized journey to their desired next-based action. Think voice (Google Home, Alexa), AR (Google Lens), Amazon, and Youtube.

Trend 2. Ignite Moments become the “embrace” in important touchpoints and moments of truth.

An immediate opportunity exists for marketers to become the light that customers crave. Marketers that create a productive and gratifying customer journey, one that prioritizes customer truth and positive engagement, will build trust and meaningful long-term relationships.  #IgniteMoment

Trend 3. Native UX and UI and customer journeys are now mission critical in customer experience.

Next generation CX must be designed as native experiences for emerging voice, mixed reality and 5G platforms. The future is about discoverability. You have to be present in ways that are relevant to customer moments, intentions and devices. That’s the context for engagement. From there, dedicated and personalized experiences, how you talk, what you show, what you say, become the differentiation that sets you apart. But if you don’t show up the right way, at the right time, on the right device, then you’re by default out of contention in the customer journey. Without discoverability, whether that’s text, voice or visual, there can be no consideration.

Trend 4. 5G offers a new canvas for experience design and analytics. 

5G unlocks new opportunities to design richer, more immersive and personalized customer experiences. On the back end, 5G also transmits more data than marketers are prepared to analyze and execute against.

Trend 5. AI and machine learning offer ability to prioritize “humanization.”

AI and machine learning can identify patterns in customer behaviors to power real-time and even predictive analytics, but when pointed in the right direction, we can start to recognize patterns of humanity and aspirations to deliver more meaning.

Trend 6. The future of connected TV marketing/advertising is unwritten.

The future of TV advertising is an entirely new ecosystem of planning, buying, distribution, performance/ influence and measurement. Desired households and audiences can be specifically targeted. Ad creative and placements are data-driven, to be more effective in connecting with distracted audiences in new formats.

Trend 7. Location intelligence unlocks geospatial data to empower understanding, insight, decision-making, and prediction.

This is next-level, real-time customer experience. LI add layers of data, including demographics, traffic, and weather patterns to make sense of location behavior to then predict and optimize physical experiences, i.e. events, travel, hospitality, retail.

Trend 8. AI empathy + ethics takes a front and center role in marketing/CX.

Innovation, Empathy and AI Ethics become the differentiators for #DDNs (Data Driven Networks). Prioritize human experiences.

Use clean data, shift from legacy biases and embrace a growth mindset will lead to personalized and innovative experiences and more accurately predict what’s next.

Trend 9. Brands will take a stand on ambient advertising in social media and gaming.

Programmatic advertising is placing brands in toxic and unsafe (but popular) environments that affect user experiences (especially youth). Brands are “guilty by association” just by being present. Brands must align together to convince platforms to employ AI-driven moderation to protect the community and the brand experience.

Trend 10. Shift from growth and vanity metrics to CLV.

Prioritizing retention, loyalty and advocacy help brands measure what matters to customers.

These efforts become pillars for the BRAND EXPERIENCE. Growth and CLV are outcomes.

Trend 11. Experience style guides will complement brand style guides.

Customer experience needs a style guide to serve as the standard for excellence, sentiment and outcomes, i.e.  “the experience” in each touch point and throughout the journey.

Experience innovation is a differentiator. When innovation succeeds, customers win.

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