In recent years, the word “innovation” has been everywhere in business — but actually delivering it is a different story. A new crop of capabilities, such as AI, continues to raise the bar on what customers see as innovative. And for a majority of customers, innovation impacts purchasing habits.

State of the Connected Customer” research shows 56% of customers actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies [Click to tweet]. In the research, innovative businesses are defined as those that consistently introduce new products or services based on customer needs and new technology.

Which emerging technologies are driving higher expectations for innovation? Smartphones, social media, and other entrenched technologies that created our always-on culture are only the tip of the iceberg.

Most customers believe that emerging technologies — and the differentiated experiences they produce — will transform their interactions with companies in the very near term. In fact, a majority of customers say their expectations are already impacted by technologies like the IoT (60%), voice-activated personal assistants (59%), and AI (51%). A nod to the role of trust in today’s customer dynamic, 64% say cybersecurity is transforming their expectations. Even blockchain, which puts up the lowest numbers, is expected to pack a punch; 41% of customers say it has or is actively transforming customer expectations.

On average, 56% of consumers say a given technology is transforming their expectations. That figure rises to 63% for business buyers, who are more likely to experience an impact from virtual/augmented reality (54%), cryptocurrencies (50%), and blockchain (51%), in particular.
AI is often portrayed as something out of a science fiction novel, yet customers have come to like — or even love — a variety of everyday technologies that would be impossible without AI. Credit card fraud detection, email spam filters, and automatic reminders are among the most popular AI use cases. More than half of customers have grown fond of voice-activated personal assistants like Siri or Alexa. Other uses, like self-driving cars, are viewed with less enthusiasm. See the “State of the Connected Customer” report for complete charts with these AI findings.
 

59%

of customers are open to companies using AI to improve their experiences.

Sixty-seven percent of customers recognize the good that can come from AI, and 61% believe the technology presents positive opportunities for society. Yet, customer trust is a delicate thing; 31% of customers are wary of companies’ use of new technologies. Thus, educating customers about the technology will be critical as companies explore new ways to differentiate with AI.