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This year you’ll hear a lot about digital transformation, AI and content customization, again. So, what else is new? We picked out some quieter, not-so-obvious digital trends to look for in 2020.

Friction Has A Price

According to Facebook’s annual STATE OF DISRUPTION report, the best-known disruptor brands are continuing to push past their comfort zones. Consumers expect and demand intuitive experiences. Every new step or delay creates friction — and increases the chance a customer will abandon their journey. SmileDirectClub, originally known for delivering dental aligners by mail, recently announced plans to open hundreds of “Smile Shops” in CVS locations nationwide, where customers can get a 3D scan of their teeth, in lieu of using the company’s at-home impression kit. This in-store solution costs consumers around $1k, several thousand less than the many appointments needed for traditional braces. [Download the Facebook report]


Of course it benefits Facebook when brands leverage their platform to create or promote seamless experiences, but that doesn’t negate their point. When SmileDirectClub made a massive move to reverse customer experience from in-home to in-store they increased the velocity of adoption for their product by removing a friction for people seeking local, in-person support. How can you increase the velocity of your customer’s journey?

Excellent EX To Drive Innovation

You know what drives digital innovation beyond skilled talent and supportive leadership? Employee Experience, or EX. EX runs the gamut, from team member experiences with internal tech such as timesheet software, to rolling out an expansion of a work from home policy. According to the Gartner 2020 HR trends report, 46% of employees feel that EX at work does not meet expectations. And EX is considered by 28% of HR leaders to be a driver of positive performance. Deloitte and Adobe also ring that alarm, warning that EX deficiencies stifle innovation. [Download the Gartner, Deloitte and Adobe 2020 trend reports]


Gartner suggests empowering employees to tailor their day-to-day experiences, based on their preferences, rather than relying on managers to prioritize the experiences they think are most important. At CDM Princeton, we regularly survey teams to determine and address emerging frictions. Which EX barriers can we remove for teams to make space for increased innovation?

Ethical Tech

Speaking of employee experience, Deloitte shines the light on a growing trend where leading companies are realizing that every aspect of their organization that is disrupted by technology represents an opportunity to gain or lose trust. They are approaching trust not as a compliance or public relations issue, but as a business-critical goal to be pursued. Business leaders are reevaluating how their products, services, and the decisions they make—around managing data, building a partner ecosystem, and training employees, among others—build trust. [Download the Deloitte 2020 trends report]


CIOs are emphasizing “ethical technology” and creating a set of tools to help people recognize ethical dilemmas when making decisions on how to use disruptive technologies. Who are your sounding boards to ensure that the tech you propose for employees or consumers is ethical? What would an ‘ethical technology’ rule book look like for you?

by Nicky Battle
Senior Vice President, Engagement Strategy