Throughout history, there have been many instances where a service becomes obsolete when facing its product counterpart. The example that might come to everyone’s mind first would be travel agents. Today almost no one communicates directly with a travel agent, choosing instead to interact with online travel agencies such as Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity. Each of those websites receives millions of visits a day for travel bookings. The websites themselves have become the product and a vital part of the travel, transportation and hospitality vertical market.
Data has followed suit. Large quantities of data are now available through secure access, enabling organizations to identify trends and decision moments that help them make accurate assumptions about everything from buying behaviors and the best regions for new product launches to which team will have the best chance to win the World Cup. The shift to delivering data as insights (products) that improve business decisions—and not just raw data itself—has created a new vertical market.
In comes the user experience
The benefits of a good, personalized user experience (UX) have been long established. Businesses are putting every effort toward providing the best UX for their customers, because they know that the experience is what sets them apart from their competition. The experience provided to the customer is the disruptive force in today’s market. Find a way to make your customers’ lives easier, and you’ll have a customer for life—and nothing pays more at a higher margin than customer loyalty.
But developing a personalized user experience is a service that’s provided by highly trained UX specialists who spend years learning and perfecting their craft. These individuals cultivate a wide range of knowledge about every aspect of their client’s business, customers, and best practices, using it to define an experience that will instill higher conversions, longer engagements and brand and product loyalty. And the clients who engage these individuals’ services are willing to pay a premium for the highest quality talent.
But is UX primed to follow data and become its own vertical market?
The answer is a resounding yes!
Remember the movie “Total Recall,” where Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to take a virtual vacation to Mars and goes to an agency to have the experiences implanted directly in his memory?
Although that was a far-flung scenario based on science fiction, the idea of “productizing” user experiences isn’t. If you break down a personalized user experience, you’ll see that it is comprised of a series of data points. Everything—from the digital moments that direct channel engagement and opportunity to the decisions that personalize the experience and make it relevant to the aesthetic appeal based on behavioral characteristics or personality traits—can be defined in data. Even adaptive paths that branch based on events and/or responses and have role-specific content can be identified as data elements. These data elements can then be structured in a way to produce a viable and acceptable UX.
As more data is gathered about the different aspects of an experience, trends can be identified and predictions made that modify those experiences. And as these experiential segments are aggregated to form even larger, more encompassing segments, they can be saved. This results in a catalog of experiences ranging from simple conversions and transactions to content engagement and lead nurturing to long-term customer brand loyalty to chained experiences that span multiple industries, interests, engagement models and branched decisions based on situational awareness of a device or user events. And all of these can be personalized to an individual or groups of individuals with extreme accuracy and complete anonymity and security.
This UX vertical market would be a hybrid, containing both product and service offerings. The products would be established, cataloged experiences and experience chains. The services would involve highly specialized individuals crafting and combining new experience segments that feed back into the overall experiential data lake, which could then be refined through data-driven feedback.
A hybrid approach like this, one that would redefine the UX industry as a whole and change thinking to encompass a macro outlook, hasn’t been considered until now.