As technology finds new footholds in our
everyday lives, consumers expect to interact
seamlessly with brands in both physical and
To meet these expectations, industry leaders are uncovering novel opportunities to merge the physical and digital to make experiences smoother, faster, and more meaningful. According to the IDC Spending Guide, global annual spending on digital transformation will hit $3.4 trillion by 2026. With so much capital cued up for technological investment, knowing precisely where to point it is key to maximizing its value.
It’s not always easy to determine which trends have staying power, and which are built on hype alone. Trends worth investing in should be built on solid architectural principals, demonstrate growth, drive change, and shift paradigms. In studying the technological landscape and polling leaders across multiple industry verticals, we’ve identified three trends that fit the bill.
The Focused Use of Generative AI
Satisfying the Turing Test, Generative AI models
aren’t simply merging the physical and digital, they’re
enabling customers to have authentic human-like
interactions with robots.
Generative AI is trained on massive sets of data to
produce new content such as images, text, videos,
and sounds that can fool even the most tech-savvy into thinking they were molded by human hands. Companies across the globe are quickly
recognizing Generative AI’s lucrative potential and
are beginning to incorporate it into their business
strategies. But rather than tapping the technology
for every possible use case that comes across their
desk, leaders are focusing on implementing AI in
areas where it can make the biggest impact.
Generative AI in Action
Across industries, many companies are using
Generative AI not wherever they can, but wherever
it makes sense to use and can add value.
1. OpenTable, the online restaurant reservation
service, recently partnered with ChatGPT to
provide bespoke restaurant recommendations
via a new plugin. Users can ask ChatGPT
Where’s a highly reviewed brunch spot I can
take my mom this Mother’s Day in Charleston?
ChatGPT will respond with suggestions
accompanied by direct booking links on
OpenTable. The service is currently available to
ChatGPT Plus subscribers only, but will gradually
roll out to more users after additional testing.
2. Large automotive retailer CarMax is using Azure’s
OpenAI Service to summarize massive amounts
of car reviews into a few digestible sentences. So
far, the company has successfully generated
thousands of review summaries that, with a little
fine-tuning, achieved an 80% editorial review
3. Swedbank, a Swedish bank based in Stockholm,
trained a deep learning-based generative model
call Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) to
augment anomaly detection for fraud and abuse.
Since these models can keep pace with the rapid
evolution of modern fraud schemes, they can
increase detection rates and reduce transaction
costs incurred by financial crime.
As a tool — albeit a mighty one — in a company’s
toolbox, Generative AI truly excels when used
to augment the creative process or streamline
workflows. From its brainstorming and
summarizing capabilities to anomaly detection
and causality determination, Generative AI can help creators break through creative
blocks, radically reduce the number of steps
in innumerable business processes, and better
predict fraud and data breaches.
As a sole creative force, however, the overuse of
Generative AI can dampen creativity and flood
the market with increasingly indistinguishable
writing, art, and design. Programs like ChatGPT or Stable Diffusion will leverage their learned models to produce
something ostensibly new, but they’re unable to truly
create something from scratch, meaning the more
content they produce without human fine-tuning,
the less original content — and branded content
in particular — will be.
That being said, with smart prompts and personal
finesse, users can infuse their own creativity into
AI-generated content. When smartly applied,
Generate AI can add significant value.
Winning the Experience
In an increasingly fragmented market where
consumer attention is harder and harder to
maintain, adequate customer experiences are
table stakes. Guiding users on a journey from
awareness to conversion is no longer enough to
endear them to your brand. To win customers,
you must give consumers something different,
and something exceptional.
Winning experiences are born from in-depth
research and sculpted by 360 degrees of customer data. They anticipate customer needs and delight
users with highly personalized solutions. And they
do it through technology that is as advanced as it
This fusion of research, data, and tech creates
two types of experiences that win: immersive
An immersive customer experience is built on multisensory interactions between a consumer and a brand. These interactions can take place on devices and wearables, through virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR), or even in the natural world (holograms, smart mirrors, robot shop assistants).
TMRW Sports, which is building progressive approaches to sports, media, and entertainment, is trying to win fan experiences by launching TGL, the world’s first professional virtual golf league. Co-founded by golf luminaries Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in partnership with the PGA Tour, TGL will tee off in a hybridized arena that merges virtual and live gameplay, complete with a gameplay simulator, a virtual green, and stadium technology.
A frictionless customer experience is the seamless integration of all technology facilitating a customer journey. Frictionless experiences understand, personalize, and streamline these journeys by eliminating any potential friction points so users can get from A to B as quickly and easily as possible.
Data and AI modeling are especially important to frictionless experiences, as without a three- dimensional picture of a customer’s wants, needs, and behaviors, as well as the capability to extrapolate from that data to predict their i deal future state, brands can’t anticipate potential friction and smoothly course correct.
The hotel industry, for example, has devised a way to deliver a frictionless experience that condenses the customer journey to a flick of the wrist. Similar to what theme parks like Disney World are doing with MagicBands, many hotels are supplying guests with RFID (radio frequency identification) bracelets that act as keycards, payment, access cards, and even pool towel tickets, for a safe, speedy, more reliable guest experience.
Sports venues are also investing in frictionless tech to immerse customers as painlessly as possible. Connected venues like the Chase Center in San Francisco now offer under-seat Aruba Wi-Fi 6E access points, app-based food delivery, and contactless payment to ensure fans are easily connected, engaged, and satisfied.
Where Immersive and Frictionless Meet
Though immersive and frictionless technologies
can often be at odds when working in tandem,
they can seamlessly merge the digital and physical
for something even more elevated.
Take VR headsets, where the top-rated products
are generally high-friction (i.e., tethered, cord-
heavy, and cumbersome). The HTC Vive Pro 2, for instance, is as top-of-the-line as they come,
but because it’s high-friction, it’s not as popular
as many low-friction alternatives. Meta Quest 2,
on the other hand, is arguably a weaker headset,
but it’s a better seller, in part because it’s wireless.
Perhaps taking note of Meta Quest 2’s popularity, the new Apple Vision Pro, expected to be available in early 2024, will appeal to users wanting a frictionless immersive technology through a “spatial computer” accessible by eyes, hands, and voice.
We asked ChatGPT to briefly explain how
Generative AI can be used to win customer
Generative AI can be used to provide
personalized recommendations and
personalized customer experiences tailored
to each individual customer’s needs. AI
algorithms can analyze customer data such as purchase history and preferences to recommend the most relevant products
and services, resulting in a more satisfying
customer experience. Additionally, AI can
be used to automate customer service tasks,
such as responding to customer inquiries,
to provide faster and more accurate
We’re inclined to agree.
The Race for Engagement and Loyalty
Fragmented markets also mean fragmented
loyalty. With so many brands, channels, devices,
and touchpoints pulling consumers in multiple
directions, companies are in a race to engage
customers and secure their loyalty before their
heads have a chance to turn.
To win this race, companies are building upon
technical innovations like Generative AI and
immersive and frictionless technologies to
merge the physical and the digital in a way that
makes their product or service indispensable
to their customers.
By harnessing the power of research, data, and
AI modeling, we’re able to better understand a
customer’s interest, pain points, and routines and
adjust our products and services accordingly.
Why would an Amazon consumer switch from an
Echo to a competitor when Alexa always offers
spot-on book recommendations and has their
thermostat preferences on lock? Why would an
Apple consumer ditch their Apple Watch when
it remembers to track their sleep behavior and
recommends their optimal bedtime?
When a digital offering is able to unobtrusively
merge with and streamline a consumer’s daily
routine, why would they switch to something else?
We asked ChatGPT to explain how Generative AI can be
used to capture consumer engagement and loyalty.
Generative AI can be used to analyze customer behavior such as purchase history, browsing history and
engagement with customer service in order to identify
potential opportunities to increase customer loyalty and
engagement. This can help businesses better understand
their customers and create personalized offers and
experiences that will keep them engaged and loyal.
For example, Generative AI can be used to provide
personalized product recommendations, tailor marketing
campaigns to customer interests, and reward customers
for their loyalty.
Well said. Minimal fine-tuning required.
Who, Where, Why
Through customer journeys, 360 degrees of data,
and predictive analytics, we can answer the three
key questions to capturing a customer’s loyalty:
who they are, where they’re found, and why they
do what they do.
Answering the who, where, and why adds
necessary context to customer data and uncovers
opportunities to meaningfully connect. It’s the
difference between knowing a customer is
searching for a chess set and knowing the chess
set is for their father’s 60th birthday. It’s the
difference between assuming a Facebook ad for
a chess set might capture their interest and
knowing the customer prefers reading product
comparison articles from Consumer Reports and
When a brand offers you the right thing at the
right time in the right way, remaining loyal is a
New Dimensions of Customer Connection
By leveraging new technologies to merge the digital and the physical, companies are capable of not only digitizing numerous customer-facing interactions, but creating exceptional experiences that add new, more meaningful dimensions to the consumer-brand relationship, all in service of cracking age-old problems such as engagement, loyalty, and optimization.
As we’ve seen, Generative AI can be used to augment creative processes and streamline business processes. Immersive and frictionless technologies give brands the edge in an experience-saturated marketplace — especially when working in tandem. And indispensable experiences create lifelong customers.
Future-focused companies should concentrate their technology investments in these three areas to meet evolving consumer needs and set new standards for effectiveness and efficiency, convenience, and personalization.
Bree leads our Customer Experience practice, creating digital strategies and solutions using modern technologies to deliver meaningful and measurable experiences for our customers. She has served as a Creative Director for many omnichannel experiences within the retail space, as well as for a number of other industries that CapTech serves.
Principal, Practice Areas & Services
Brian leads our business strategy for our practice areas and is a thought leader in digital strategy. He provides an objective perspective through the strategic analysis of current technology trends and designs and builds great experiences for our clients.
Vinnie is a Principal at CapTech and plays a large role in helping define services,
forge partnerships, and lead innovation for our clients. As a thought leader, he
regularly helps clients solve their most complex business challenges.