The impact of data-driven customer journeys cannot be overstated

2024 is going to be all about ‘you’, says Digitas ME’s Kareem Monem


Well, more about your data, your signals, your behaviour and the ability to influence (or compliment) your decisions but I guess that is still about you.

More clients we are talking to are referencing their ‘customer-centric’ digital strategies, which means that brands have pushed the envelope in terms of appreciating that elevating the experience is key, but without a full understanding of the customer demand cycle (along with making things as seamless, connected, and automated), being customer-centric will never be possible.

To put things into context, across our region companies will spend more than $183bn on IT-related programmes this year. Which according to Gartner, is a 4 per cent increase from 2023.

Maybe not the 10 per cent+ jump we are used to seeing, but what is more interesting is ‘where’ companies are directing their investment. It is in areas such as enhanced connected experiences, building on intrinsic buying values, rewarding loyalty and lowering customer acquisition cost (or service citizens) – at the same time, there is an increasing investment in the adoption of cloud and infrastructure modernisation along with the integration of GenAi into all aspects of front and back office operations. All of which is forcing upskilling of the general employee base and a complete re-think on hiring strategies.

I think it is fair to say, 2024 may be the embodiment of not just technological advancement and increased modernisation of technical stacks but it will be a continued paradigm shift in customer-centric digital strategies.

Across MENA, we are seeing the integration of AI (especially Generative AI) in almost every aspect of our lives. We all know and see that GenAI is transforming how businesses, large and small, are now able to handle vast amounts of data, and the quantum shift in the volumes of data ‘Large Languages Modules’ (LLM’s) are handling is probably doubling every day. This leap in data processing capability is pivotal for businesses aiming to craft customer-centric strategies.

The impact of data-driven customer journeys in the MENA region cannot be overstated. As businesses become almost fully reliant on digital channels, the ability to gather, analyse and act on customer data has moved from the peripheral to the front and centre.

This trend is evident in sectors where customer engagement is key, such as retail, banking, travel and telco. In these industries, understanding customer preferences, behaviours and needs through data is essential for creating personalised experiences, enhancing customer satisfaction and ultimately driving business growth.

The focus on customer-centric digital strategies is not merely about leveraging data for targeted marketing or sales. It’s about building a holistic understanding of the customer journey, from initial engagement to post-sale service.

This approach involves using data to optimise every touchpoint in the customer journey, ensuring that each interaction is tailored to individual preferences and needs.

What is the role of AI in this space? We need more computing power to decipher complex customer data patterns that will allow us to deliver personalised experiences, enable businesses to make faster more relevant decisions for their customers and move the concept of transformation from a one-time big investment, into an ongoing modus operandum.

The adoption of AI in processing customer data is revolutionising this approach. AI algorithms can analyse vast datasets to identify patterns that would be impossible for humans to discern. This capability enables businesses to predict customer needs, personalise communications, and even proactively resolve issues before they arise. AI acts as the engine that powers customer-centric strategies, turning data into actionable insights.

In 2024, the MENA region’s businesses are expected to increasingly adopt technologies that enable these sophisticated data analyses. Investments in AI and cloud computing are about reimagining how businesses interact with their customers. By embracing these technologies, MENA businesses can create more personalised customer experiences.

To close the loop, in order to feed these LLM’s, we need touchpoints and devices. Aggregated digital device sales (from laptops to phones) actually declined in 2023 – due to multiple factors. Sales are projected to recover in 2024, and will be a key driver in our continued circular transformation.

The continued proliferation of smartphones and the transition to 5G technology are not just about connectivity; they are about creating new avenues for data collection and customer engagement.

The ease of access to technology, facilitated by innovative financing options, is making it possible for a broader segment of the population to participate in the digital economy, further enriching the pool of customer data.

2024 presents a fundamental shift in how businesses approach customer relationships. This shift is not just about keeping pace with global digital trends; it’s about leading in the creation of a customer-centric and fully digital future.

By Kareem Monem, Chief Executive Officer, Digitas ME