Experience design (XD) providers we surveyed told us that among emerging technologies, clients most often ask them about machine learning, chatbots, the internet of things (IoT), and augmented reality (AR). Providers also reported that chatbot-related terms “intelligent agents” and “voice interfaces” drew significant interest, as well. However, the providers’ revenue is coming more from machine learning and chatbots than IoT or AR. This exceeds interest and revenue from topics such as virtual reality, wearables, or robotics.

Why are these terms so popular? Because machine learning, chatbots, IoT, and AR are central to future customer interactions. Experiences that include these technologies have created business value, yet most businesses find that design providers are better equipped to identify and solve the issues involved with using machine learning, chatbots, and IoT than with robotics or augmented reality.

What It Means

Most design providers are best suited to create value from chatbots and machine-learning algorithms. Technology such as augmented reality should be explored for early innovation with firms that have expertise in these topics, while IoT challenges are best solved by providers with industrial design expertise.


XD providers will help you create better experiences and unlock business value from these technologies. However, as with web and app design, you shouldn’t outsource all capabilities. Instead, rely on these firms to help you use these new capabilities as a “design material.”* Look for providers that:

  • Want to elevate your capabilities.
  • Want to help you identify problems to solve and experiments to run rather than just build “a chatbot” or some “AI features.”

* Design material is a term used by Qian Yang of Carnegie Mellon in her research about machine learning. We believe it applies here, as well.

More Resources

For more insights from our research about XD providers, see


This post and the research reports it links to are based on Forrester’s:

  • Surveying of experience design providers (51 agencies and consultancies).
  • Findings from our frequent interviews of XD providers and their client companies.

If your company needs guidance about XD providers and your selection process — or if you’re an XD provider and would like to know more about our research into this landscape — Forrester is available to help through customized advisory services.