Note: This is the third in four-part blog series highlighting our Top 10 Emerging Technologies in 2022 report. The others are: #1 Show Me That Emerging Tech Magic, #2: Show Me The Value Of Emerging Technology, and #4 Show Me The Metaverse.

For consumers, future experiences will simultaneously be more invisible and immersive. The “below-the-glass” technology that powers “on-the-glass” experiences will become increasingly invisible. Brands will become so adept at anticipating the needs of their customers and serving them proactively with relevant services in just the moment they need them that consumers will actually engage less frequently — but more meaningfully — with brands. At the same time, the on-the-glass experiences where humans interact with the internet will be increasingly immersive – perhaps becoming the vaunted metaverse.

On-the-glass experiences will be table stakes for brands because they give consumers choice and meet them where they are. Below-the-glass experiences, or the intelligence that powers these more invisible experiences, will help brands create competitive differentiation. These types of intelligence include:

  1. Edge intelligence to collect context, help translate it into useable insights, and act. Brands that want to anticipate the needs of their customers must watch and listen to them closely, identify the need, and then act quickly. In healthcare, that may include monitoring biometric data and alerting the most appropriate nearby medical staff. In retail, that may mean making a product suggestion. Edge intelligence capabilities assist on all dimensions. These capabilities include helping capture data, embedding inferencing, and connecting insight within a real-time network of application, device, and communication ecosystems.
  2. Privacy-preserving technology (PPT) allows brands to use personal data safely. Developing insights to anticipate the needs of a consumer and act quickly on that information depends on use of personal information that a consumer chooses to share with a brand. Brands may ask to collect this information (e.g., name, birthday), observe behavior (e.g., website, foot pattern in a store), or even collect this information from a third party (e.g., Apple Health data). PPT operationalizes use of personal data. It enables organizations to have more granular controls to reduce risks associated with personal data use. Examples of what firms can do include privacy filtering for viewing or accessing personal data, security controls for data processing and use, and controls to secure the environment where data processing happens.
  3. Explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) to generate trust in recommended actions. The most sophisticated brands will depend upon AI to build insights to interpret a consumer’s needs and to take action quickly and at scale. In today’s environment of consumer privacy protection laws and widespread distrust, consumers now have the option to decide if they want to share the information that brands need to feed these algorithms. Many consumers do not trust AI because of headlines that decry bias and discrimination. Brands must prove to consumers that they not only can protect their data, but also use it to provide what is good for the consumers. This trust is built on explainable interpretation and actions. XAI offers the processes and techniques to ensure that consumers and employees understand AI systems.
  4. Intelligent agents to offer contextual help based on a consumer’s intent. Forrester defines intelligent agents as software that can make decisions or perform a service based on its environment, user input, and experiences. Agents can be scheduled, triggered by an event, or directed by a human. Below the glass, intelligent agents will help brands progress from simply pushing out information proactively to making informed suggestions to consumers — and even taking action on their behalf. Above the glass, intelligent agents will tap into the advancements in natural language understanding (NLU) to infer the consumer’s intent. In doing so, they will create the convenience that bot-based conversational interfaces so desperately need to become a reliable tool for consumers who want help in making decisions, getting answers to questions, or even guiding the reset or repair of a connected device in the home.

If you’d like more information on how the future of experiences will evolve, Forrester clients can tune into The Future Of Experiences webinar on September 29. For a deeper dive on the use cases, vendors and value created by these technologies, please read this report.