The 5 most important digital trends for 2023

27 February 2023

These are turbulent times. Crises seem to occur more frequently, and we face immense challenges in the fields of health, climate, energy, politics, and security. What does that mean for your organisation? And how should you respond to changing times? Our experts share their insights on the five biggest digital trends of 2023.

Digital Trends

Trend 1: radical transparency

In 2023, transparency will become more important. Consumers increasingly expect brands to live their values. Those who don’t will quickly lose relevance.

This is how you can stay relevant in today’s digital reality:

brand positioning | iO
Take a stand on social issues

Successful brands in 2023 have strong opinions. About the climate, about the energy crisis, about mass tourism — whatever the theme: make sure that your social positioning matches your mission and vision, and your brand story appeals to your target group. It is important that brands adopt a social position and act on it, especially for younger generations, such as Gen Z.

It is important to define your story, while simultaneously developing it in practice so that you can increase your positive impact on the world and attract people who back your brand. That is great for both your reputation and your turnover.

Build closer, transparent customer relationships

In 2023, it is not big tech companies, but users who will be in charge. With the imminent removal of third-party data, organisations have to rely on their own data — a shift in transparency and control that benefits the end consumer.

This focus on first-party data ensures that we can — or should — concentrate on building closer customer relationships again. Users demand more transparency and control over their data, and that is a good thing, according to our colleague Jacob Eeckhout on

Gabrielle van den Dries


Adopt a data-driven marketing strategy

The arrival of Google Analytics 4, the absence of the third-party cookie, uncertainty about data treaties, GDPR, and the e-Privacy Directive are all developments that will have a lasting impact for marketers. In 2023, it is also a good idea to make your data management as transparent as possible — both for your own employees and for your existing and future customers.

Gabrielle van den Dries (Service Line Director Marketing) tells you all about it in this video.

Trend 2: a personal approach

In 2023, a personal approach — in the broad sense of the word — will become more important. Personalisation can be a powerful way to build stronger connections with customers, but it's not always easy to get started.

Here's how to keep it personal in 2023:

Tom Van Mierlo


Think about your added value

What role does your organisation play in your customers’ lives? Why do customers choose your products and/or services, and not those of the competition? If you know your organisation’s value proposition — and how to make those people feel the emotional spark — you can increase the levels of personalisation in your approach.

According to Tom Van Mierlo (Strategist & Partner), personalisation is in the details.

Steven Van Belleghem


Keep the customer first

The customer has to be central in everything you do as an organisation. What does a certain decision deliver for the customer? How do we make our customers' lives easier with our services and products? What problems can we solve? Shift the focus from what you want to say to what your target audience wants to hear.

This way of thinking is the most personal approach to digital transformation. Steven Van Belleghem (Partner & Strategic Advisor) calls it hyper-personalisation:

Bet on first-party data

As we discussed earlier, the days of third-party cookies are numbered, so first-party data will be more relevant in 2023. When you collect customer data yourself, you are free of the tech giants like Meta and Google.

To build an effective first-party data strategy, you need to earn access to personal data from customers by providing added value. To do this, you need stronger content and more creative campaigns — and that is better for everyone.

Develop a personalisation strategy

Organisations that focus on a personalised marketing approach build better, more relevant customer experiences — and that translates directly into value creation for the organisation. Still, it's important not to start personalising haphazardly, but to establish clearly why you're doing it. What is the added value of personalisation for your organisation and — more importantly — for your customers?

Trend 3: smart optimisation

In 2023, optimisation will become more important. In times of crisis, it pays to have a strong focus on optimisation and use data to help you to make the right decisions: what are we going to do more of, what can we do smarter, and what should we stop doing?

Here's how to help your customers smarter in 2023:

Daan Langbroek


Innovate faster with validated learning

Innovation is more important than ever — but the context that we do it in will look different in 2023. For example, there is still room to learn, but less room to play. We need to create demonstrable value more quickly with new initiatives, while keeping a keen eye on costs. That is a huge opportunity, according to Daan Langbroek (Lead Strategy — Innovation & Transformation):

The question: How can we continue to innovate quickly and efficiently? The answer: with validated learning as an innovation strategy.

Look at your customers' needs

Not every innovation leads to an improvement. Innovation for the sake of innovation is useless, but innovations after a substantiated problem exploration are more valuable. Even in the new economic contexts of 2023, it is necessary to investigate what your customers need — before you can start innovating effectively.

But how do you find problems that are worth solving? Our experts will help you identify the right strategic course.

Trend 4: technological flexibility

In 2023, flexibility will become more important. Is your organisation agile enough to deal with the changing contexts, economy, and customer expectations? Don't get stuck with large, expensive software packages. Make technology choices that give your organisation flexibility.

How to stay flexible in 2023:

Raymond Muilwijk


Migrate to a composable architecture

Many organisations are dependent on huge 'suites': extensive, monolithic solutions that use barely 20% of the functionalities.

In such cases, it is not a bad idea to switch to a composable approach, where each component can be independently connected and disconnected, scaled up, replaced, and improved.

Composable allows you to focus on new trends much faster, says Raymond Muilwijk (Center of Excellence Lead Technology).

Switch to MACH

Microservices, API-first, cloud-native, and headless — MACH is having an increasing impacting on the IT landscape of large organisations.

For example, cloud-native applications keep your tech stack smart, more flexible, and more budget-efficient, and headless CMS means you can create seamless omnichannel customer experiences.

Trend 5: relevant automation

In 2023, automation will become more important. By automating repetitive tasks, your team will have more time for tasks that benefit from the human touch.

Here's how to automate in 2023:

Improve customer-centric processes

Trends and developments come in rapid succession, creating countless digital opportunities. One of those opportunities is by keeping at least one step ahead of the competition by improving customer-oriented processes in phases.

If you get that right, you will benefit from higher levels of customer satisfaction, less strain on your teams, and stronger customer engagement.

client portal
Distinguish yourself by service, not by product

Organisations that provide superior services compared to the competition will enjoy a higher market share in 2023. Self-service platforms play an important role in this.

Customers have higher expectations, which is why excellent service — where and when the customer needs it — is no longer optional.

Adopt new tools in moderation

Don't just jump on the bandwagon when a new tool emerges. Just think of AI tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E: they can help certain organisations work more efficiently by automating tasks, but they are by not useful for everyone.

Before you adopt a new trend, ask yourself why exactly you want to do that. Is it to catch the latest wave? Or is it to solve your customers real problems

Conclusion: the digital trends of 2023

Time for a quick summary. In 2023, it will be important to focus on:

  • Transparency: Live your values, in every way.

  • A personalised approach: Not a generalised mass approach, but tailor-made experiences.

  • Optimisation: Get more done with the same budget.

  • Flexibility: Build an agile organisation.

  • Automation: Automate repetitive tasks and processes to free up your experts.

Sander Van Den Broecke
Sander Van Den Broecke

Sander has been writing since 2016 — about marketing, creativity, branding, and more. Usually for iO, occasionally for a travel magazine, and always with a keen eye for diversity and inclusion.

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