Welcome to another instalment of ‘Ask the Expert’, the series of interviews RingCentral runs with influential thought leaders from around the world, including UC and CX consultants and analysts. In this series, we aim to find out what’s at the cutting edge of UCaaS and CCaaS.
Spotlight on Digital Darwinism and the evolution of CX
For this month’s instalment, RingCentral’s Ian Nevin, Director of International Consultant Relations, spoke with Don Haddaway, Founder and Director of Artisiam. Artisiam is a specialist CX consultancy focused on the design of cost-effective and innovative CX.
Don has spent 35 years in the customer contact industry and before setting up Artisiam, he held senior roles with HSBC, AT&T, BT, Thomas Cook, M&S, and Legal & General.
In this interview, Don explains what Digital Darwinism is, why it’s relevant to businesses, and how he expects communications and CX to evolve over the next year.
So, tell us Don: what is Digital Darwinism and what does it mean for businesses?
Sure. Well, the term originates from Darwinism – Charles Darwin’s theory of biological evolution by natural selection. Digital Darwinism is a term that was coined by Tom Goodwin in 2014 and then also used by Brian Solis, a digital analyst and anthropologist. It’s defined as ‘the evolution of consumer behaviour when society and technology evolve faster than your ability to adapt.’
To survive Digital Darwinism, Solis says companies need to not only adopt new technology, but also make a cultural and strategic shift toward embracing change.
That doesn’t just mean that change is embraced by the people who use the technology; it also needs to be embraced by the people who create the technology, because that technology has to adapt to people’s usage and to the environments around it.
Just like the ‘survival of the fittest’ concept in nature, companies that don’t adapt to change are at risk of becoming extinct.
There’s an important branch of Digital Darwinism called Convergent Evolution, which is when previously separate technologies evolve similar features and eventually come together. A prime example of that is the smartphone. Previously separate pieces of equipment or applications – phone, camera, calendar, email, internet browser – were converged into one device.
Right, thank you. So how do you think CX technology will evolve next?
That’s a good question. Well, the evolution is now happening within cloud technologies. So at the moment, most UCaaS and CCaaS systems are separate, which means the front office and back office aren’t working together as seamlessly as they could be. So the natural convergent evolution is to intelligently combine the UCaaS and CCaaS worlds, and that’s what we are starting to see now.
This convergence brings clear benefits. Front-office and back-office users get access to the features and functionalities of each solution (CCaaS and UCaaS) through a unified platform, which elevates quality, reduces agent stress and enhances CX. It does this by facilitating seamless interactions and improving efficiency.
How is Digital Darwinism driving innovation and disruption?
Leveraging these evolving technologies and capabilities allows businesses to innovate and disrupt markets – perhaps by creating new services, or more effective services, or new routes to market.
One example I use is a global electronics manufacturer that was operating in over 70 countries and over a billion customers. During the pandemic, this business pivoted from being just a manufacturer that supplied resellers, to being a global e-tailer that now sells their products online directly to their customers and communicates directly with their customers. This means they are reducing costs, getting better control over their brand narrative, and gained direct contact with the customer, which led to better insights about their customers, and higher customer intimacy and loyalty.
It’s almost come full circle – ironically we’re trying to get back to the sort of service levels that existed almost 200 years ago, before mass consumerism and globalisation. Then, people had truly intimate knowledge of what a particular client needed or wanted – whether it was your local shoemaker, or your local butcher.
Now, we’re able to get back to something like that for the mass market, using direct digital communications and unified communications.
What will be the key innovations for 2024 then?
So for 2024, I think the focus of innovations related to CX will be around:
- intelligent productivity and collaboration tools for agents and staff
- more intelligent self-service for customers
- omnichannel orchestration (bringing different communication channels together seamlessly to reduce friction for customers and staff)
- quality management
- data visusalisation.
And enabling all this innovation, will be AI, cloud, and unified communications.
So how are consultants helping businesses prepare for this disruption?
There are many different routes that businesses can take towards customer intimacy and a better CX.
Often, new capabilities are looked at in isolation, or the front office and back office are looked at separately.
It isn’t just about how fast you take the call, or the average handling time; it’s about how you can make the entire customer journey seamless and reduce customer effort.
If consultants can look at an organisation in that holistic way, there are lots of opportunities to move the dial in terms of customer satisfaction. That’s why the convergence of CCaaS and UCaaS, which brings the back office and front office together, can leverage much greater efficiencies of operation.
Many thanks to Don Haddaway from Artisiam for his insights into how businesses can embrace Digital Darwinism and use it to their advantage when it comes to improving CX. You can find out more about the RingCentral Consultant Relations Program and portal on our hub.
Originally published Jan 23, 2024