I recently hosted Forrester’s Predictions 2020 webinar, where I interviewed CEO George Colony and other Forrester thought leaders on the dynamics that will shape 2020 and beyond. Attendees were able to ask questions during the webinar, some of which could not be answered live. I’ve rounded up a few of these questions and provided the answers below. Be sure to check out the full webinar for a deeper dive.

Q: I find that CX [customer experience] tends to be too focused on making a customer a reference, or it’s the new name for “tech support,” or it’s the people who make sure a customer reups their subscription. Would you consider this a misalignment vs. what CX should be — listening to the customer and advocating for the customer inside the organization?

A: We look at it this way: A CX program should focus on improving the effectiveness, ease, and positive emotions of an experience. When that happens, the result is that customers want to stay with a brand longer, buy incremental products and/or services from the brand, and recommend the brand. That is a broad mandate that gets CX professionals into areas ranging from products to customer service, using tools ranging from ethnographic research and measurement to design thinking and enablement.

Q: Are CX or marketing budgets being reduced faster?

A: CX team budgets tend to be small, but they are growing (though barely). The percentage of CX team budgets over $500,000 grew by 1% between 2019 and 2017. The only shrinkage was at the top of the range (more than $5M). In comparison, our recent survey data about marketing budgets shows that the overwhelming percentage of respondents expect their budgets to grow. So while both types of budgets seem to be growing, iseems that more CX budgets are growing, but the marketing budgets that are growing are growing faster.

Q: Given that it’s necessary to change mindsets and gain new knowledge, why is training given low priority in organizations’ budgets?

A: From a CX perspective: CX teams, in particular, are not articulating the ROI of training or building the business case for it. Only 29% reported building a business case for each CX project, whereas 65% report they conduct CX training, Forrester survey data shows. We have seen quite a few organizations (e.g., Coca-Cola) succeed by:

  1. Measuring baseline performance and tying it to business metrics.
  2. “Prototyping” — i.e., training a small cohort.
  3. Comparing the performance of that cohort with untrained cohorts to demonstrate value and gain buy-in for scaling the program.

From a tech perspective: Corporate training is a global $90 billion industry. The bigger issue is that learning and development are not closely linked to cultivating the right kinds of skills with an eye toward the emergence of AI and automation in the workforce. Most companies are, indeed, far behind on this type of initiative.

Q: Do you have any advice or projections specific to the apparel sector?

A: Check out our Predictions 2020 retail report or blog post for relevant projections.

Q: One of your predictions is CIOs will automate 10% of tasks in 2020. Can you elaborate a bit more? [VP, Principal Analyst] J. P. [Gownder] mentioned password reset as an example of a task to be automated, but I’m wondering what functions are likely targets.

A: IT automation has a long history, even predating RPA [robotic process automation]. We expect to see a continuing effort to expand automation of IT-related tasks, including areas such as networking and security templates, configuring applications, and provisioning production-ready infrastructure. Some of these use cases require simple scripts; others require the use of RPA or AI.

Q: Can you please explain “trust” in data a little more?

A: Many factors contribute to building trusted data (for internal and external stakeholders). Having robust data governance, security, and integrity in place is a great start for building trust with internal stakeholders. When working with external consumers, trust in data is more focused on areas like personal data usage, permission, preference, and consent.

Q: Where do you think the biggest opportunity for CIOs in higher education will be in 2020? How can they best differentiate themselves and get their executive cabinets on board with being bold?

A: For CIOs in higher ed, integrating the front- and back-end experiences along a modern architecture should be a priority. Many universities have invested in front-end experiences for students and staff, but they may not be deeply integrated into back-end systems. Also, data hygiene is often an issue in higher education. If your data hygiene isn’t strong, it won’t allow the data to drive insights. Another area where higher education lags business is in upgrading to the cloud. Making these moves will allow universities to become more adaptive to market conditions and to new audiences of students.

Q: Are there any predictions on cryptocurrencies?

A: We didn’t produce a predictions report on cryptocurrency specifically, but in the blockchain section of our new tech Predictions report, we did provide an outlook for cryptocurrency-based companies. We predict that “venture capital and private equity investors have had enough of the highly speculative cryptocurrency hype and will divert capital back into blockchain-focused startups that show substantive, enterprise-scale value.”