August 28, 2013
This post is based on published research. Forrester clients can read the full report here: Predictive Apps Are The Next Big Thing
Developers And Their Business Counterparts Are Caught In A Trap
They swim in game-changing new technologies that can access more than a billion hyperconnected customers, but they struggle to design and develop applications that delight customers and dazzle shareholders with annuity-like streams of revenue. The challenge isn’t application development; app developers can ingest and use new technologies as fast as they come. The challenge is that developers are stuck in a design paradigm that reduces app design to making functionality and content decisions based on a few defined customer personas or segments.
Personas Are Sorely Insufficient
How could there be anything wrong with this conventional design paradigm? Functionality? Check. Content? Check. Customer personas? Ah — herein lies the problem. These aggregate representations of your customers can prove valuable when designing apps and are supposedly the state of the art when it comes to customer experience and app design, but personas are blind to the needs of the individual user. Personas were fine in 1999 and maybe even in 2009 — but no longer, because we live in a world of 7 billion “me”s. Customers increasingly expect and deserve to a have a personal relationship with the hundreds of brands in their lives. Companies that increasingly ratchet up individual experience will succeed. Those that don’t will increasingly become strangers to their customers.
Predictive Apps: The New Design Paradigm
The answer to developing apps that dazzle the digital consumer and making your company stand out from the competition lies in what Forrester calls predictive apps. Forrester defines predictive apps as:
Apps that leverage big data and predictive analytics to anticipate and provide the right functionality and content on the right device at the right time for the right person by continuously learning about them.
Four Design Principles Distinguish Predictive Apps
To build anticipatory, individualized app experiences, app developers will use big data and predictive analytics to continuously and automatically tune the app experience by:
- Learning who the customer (individual user) really is.
- Detecting the customer’s intent in the moment.
- Morphing functionality and content to match the intent.
- Optimizing for the device (or channel).
This requires new components and a new architecture to make it happen.