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Building the Next Generation of Intelligent Experiences

Introduction by Jaclyn Stiles, Microsoft 

Rapidly changing consumer expectations have disrupted nearly every industry and these shifts are driving new engagement patterns among digital users. We are well past the days where an online or mobile presence alone is sufficient. It is now imperative for organizations to create beautiful, compelling UI that communicates a clear brand voice and perspective, but also incorporates a seamless, powerful, omnichannel strategy that leverages the latest emerging technologies.

A growing example of this is Mixed Reality – a broad term that includes true virtual reality simulations and augmented reality overlays of the physical and digital world. Mixed Reality is rapidly becoming an important component across digital transformation initiatives. 

In a recent report (1) by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, industry leaders saw Mixed Reality as a key component in meeting their overall business objectives. According to this survey of 394 executives, “87% of respondents are currently exploring, piloting, or deploying mixed reality” and “68% of respondents believe mixed reality is important to achieving their companies’ strategic goals in the next 18 months.” In fact, “improved customer experience,” “more efficient work processes,” and delivery of a “competitive advantage” are the top areas of impact that business leaders anticipate for Mixed Reality over the next few years. 

Fortunately, continued advances in cloud computing, machine learning, and data processing capabilities have unlocked our access to the amount of information we can utilize—and the speed with which we can process it—to create truly intelligent experiences for our customers. While this opportunity is full of promise and excitement, many brands are struggling to separate technology trends from lasting innovations, and how to make sound digital investments. At the same time, they are also bogged down with the high costs and increasing headache of managing outdated technologies. Technology partners like Microsoft and a growing ecosystem of digital agency innovators (like those in the SoDA community) can help them better navigate this journey.

To do this, brands and their agency partners need to think about App Modernization and moving legacy applications to the cloud. This can start with lifting on-premise infrastructure and shifting it to a cloud environment, but that doesn’t necessarily take advantage of the full capabilities and services. Businesses may also need to rearchitect and move their multi-tiered, monolithic applications into containerized platforms using microservices. They can rewrite their code entirely with a serverless architecture or use event-driven functions, which requires significantly more engineering capabilities. Together, these steps can result in a lower total cost of ownership, and increased security, scalability, and flexibility. 

In addition to App Modernization, brands and their agencies can think more seriously about building rich, intelligent experiences through App Innovation. This can include web, mobile, voice, wearables, IoT, and augmented, mixed, or virtual reality applications, infused with artificial intelligence and powered by the cloud. Businesses are also increasingly leveraging software innovation to gain a competitive edge, so technology partners and the agency ecosystem need to provide more support in implementing strong DevOps practices.

Now is the time for brands and their agency partners to design and build cloud-native applications that can generate net new revenue streams through differentiated intelligent experiences for their customers. These experiences must be intuitive and meet users where they are, fueled by data and predictive analytics to give users what they want before they know they want it. AI-powered applications—built with technologies like facial recognition, body tracking, and speech intent—can understand what is happening in the physical world and respond in real time to the user, virtually. Mixed reality is a powerful culmination of each of these components, leveraging the flexibility and scalability of cloud-based data, applications, and services along with innovations in hardware to deliver rich, branded and intelligent customer experiences.

As VR, AR and Mixed Reality gather momentum in the marketplace, I’m thrilled to be part of this report with SoDA community leaders as they share some of their latest project work and dig into the methods, mindsets and capabilities that enable them to consistently deliver innovative, meaningful and ground-breaking work in a world where creative, design, technology and customer experience are inseparable.

(1) Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. (2018, June 21). Mixed Reality: A New Dimension of Work. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/comm/microsoft/MixedRealityNewDimensionOfWork.pdf on June 24, 2019.