Future Enterprise Industry

Industry Ecosystems for Customer Experience Orchestrated Businesses

Harmonizing Multichannel Engagements through Collaborative Industry Networks
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“Customer experience”, whether we are discussing discrete and process manufacturing, construction, healthcare, retail, or other industries, is omnichannel, supported by multiple tools, processes, and data models.  These experiences are also supported by interconnected partners working together by sharing the requisite and related customer data & insights, applications, operations, and expertise.

In our (3rd annual) 2023 Future of Industry Ecosystems global survey (n=1288), fielded to CxOs, business line executives, and IT leaders, we strive to determine current and planned approaches to industry ecosystems. More specifically, we ask questions related to strategy, use case focus, and IT investment for industry ecosystem success.

For IT investment, cloud infrastructure and applications as well as cybersecurity remain critical, while customer data platform (CDP) is also a top-three focus. Sharing customer data with ecosystem partners is not something end-user organizations have extensively done in the past – but that is changing, with products, services, and experiences delivered quickly in a blended physical and digital way, innovation expectations high, and end customers that demand personalized experiences. A network of on-demand partners that share mutually beneficial customer data makes this possible and scalable.

Organizations realize that they must work closely with their partners to orchestrate that end-user experience (whether consumer, customer, citizen, or patient) while having this be seamless and substantive. This is true whether the industry is fast-moving consumer goods, industrial manufacturing, or energy distribution. As such, for three years running in our Future of Industry Ecosystems Global Survey, CDPs continue to be a leading IT investment in support of industry ecosystems.

Another key element for engaging customers and consumers across industry ecosystems is the blending of physical and digital approaches to product and service experiences. Better visibility and decision support, clear communication and collaboration, and ensuring a relevant, quality experience for customers and consumers are the reasons why the melding of physical and digital products and services is important to the vibrancy of ecosystems today. This approach also includes the use of digital twins for asset, process, and resource optimization (particularly important and prevalent in the industrial space), which is especially important as organizations digitally extend their way of working across technology and business domains, within the organization, and among ecosystems of partners.

Customers and consumers expect this blending of physical and digital offerings to work together without interruption, which is possible only through a network of industry ecosystem providers. For this interconnected mash-up of physical and digital to function optimally and orchestrate activity across the industry ecosystem, several models, platforms, and digital technologies must be in place, including marketplaces and industry clouds (IC) that are empowered by cognitive, AI, and GenAI-driven systems that help determine the next best product or service action. Across the ecosystem, there will be different business models for the constituents of the ecosystem, with the mash-up between the physical and digital being key to success.

Other points that highlight the importance of industry ecosystems to ensure a good customer experience for the end user:

  • The end customer is considered by most organizations to be among the top two most important ecosystem partners, collaborators, and co-innovators (along with strategic consultants).
  • IoT remains an important investment related to industry ecosystem IT: this is due to the wealth of performance, as well as customer, use data that exists within connected assets, products, and processes.
  • One related point from our Future of Industry Ecosystems global survey is that there is strong interest in leveraging Web3 decentralized technologies and environments (metaverse, DAOs, tokens) to engage more closely with customers – although investment plans for blockchain are relatively low.  This could be due to a lack of knowledge that blockchain is an enabling Web3 tech.
  • We expect continued interest in and investment in CDPs for industry ecosystems, as organizations see the value in establishing a central place for shared customer information, accessible to all industry ecosystem partners.

In 2024, a team of IDC analysts (including me) will be writing on what it takes to be “Experience Orchestrated” in your business – for internal employees, ecosystem partners, and the end customer. My focus is how industry ecosystems enable this: what strategies and business models, technologies required, and use cases to focus on. Be on the lookout for more Experience Orchestrated Ecosystem research from my Future of Industry Ecosystems practice. Explore additional information on this practice including videos, eBooks, and research agenda.

Jeffrey Hojlo leads one of the nine new Future Enterprise practices at IDC - the Future of Industry Ecosystems. This practice focuses on three areas that help create and optimize trusted industry ecosystems and next generation value chains in discrete and process manufacturing, construction, healthcare, retail, and other industries: shared data & insight, shared applications, and shared operations & expertise. After starting his career in the CPG industry, Jeffrey has worked for the past 26 years in the IT industry at start-ups and established global companies. Jeffrey is a frequent speaker, presenter, and moderator at industry events. He is regularly cited within industry publications on design, engineering/R&D, manufacturing, innovation, & industry ecosystems.