…companies need to embrace Experience Design (XD) to win.

The most forward-thinking businesses are starting to understand that digital products and services alone are no longer enough to gain a competitive advantage. In the race to win consumers’ hearts, minds and attention, digital differentiation must be infused with experience design, we explore how to strike the right balance. 

The concept of Experience Design (XD) has evolved rapidly along with how we think about today’s digital landscape. We’re in the middle of an ongoing digital revolution where once novel trends are now familiar and commonplace. The importance of seamless interactions, the utilisation of artificial intelligence to drive high levels of personalisation, recommendation and customer fit, and online chat functionalities have forever changed how customers interact with brands and businesses the world over – but they’re not the whole picture.

A major challenge in the market and beyond is the belief that technology and XD are synonymous. They’re not. Technology is an enabler of experience. On its own, technology isn’t XD, just as products and services in isolation are not XD. If businesses aren’t designing consciously and thoughtfully blueprinting the experiences they want customers to have, then technology can in fact become a very costly disabler of experience.

When organisations and their experience design teams become narrowly focused on product and service optimisation, and the superficial digital transformation of those things, the business (and its competitors) eventually all end up chasing the same thing. There’s no real differentiation between one company’s offering and the next. All that’s created is another problem state. By staying in the service economy paradigm, businesses are placing a self-imposed cap on what they can achieve because there’s only so far similarly optimised digital products and services can go in truly gaining a competitive advantage.

There’s an unfortunate assumption that technology is the definitive route to making experiences cheaper and faster while reducing costs to the business. The notion that reducing time and removing effort creates a better customer experience by default isn’t always true. Technology can help create a better experience, but it’s not XD for the experience economy. Digital transformation is, of course, crucially important, but it is not the ultimate differentiator of a business. In the coming shift to the experience economy, the ultimate differentiator of a business is the way it constructs and tailors its experiences in a consciously engineered way for its customers.

Companies hit a trip-wire when they lose focus on what digital transformation and data transformation are really all about. The core focus has to be on how technology can build better experiences. An organisation that really embraces this way of thinking sees technology and platforms as the stage on which to create truly differentiated, engaging, intriguing, delightful experiences for customers – over and above products and services.

Pursuing experience differentiation is competing differently. It offers businesses the opportunity to build new experiences by connecting various services together in an ecosystem model to create a new kind of value for consumers. Consider a financial services provider which offers home loans. Organisations operating in the service economy paradigm easily become fixated on leveraging digital as a cost optimiser. But an experience and platformed-orientated business understands that for the customer, it’s not about getting a home. It’s about the experience of finding a house, buying the house, moving into that house, and making that house their home.

Ultimately, organisations that use technology as an enabler to deliver exceptional experiences, and deliver them faster and better than their competitors in a unique way, are embracing technology and digital transformation for the right reasons.