Progressive change is having an impact on human and business experience and every organisation should be thinking about strategic technologies based on cloud computing, social media/networking, mobility and information management.

Like a moving snowball is guaranteed to pick up volume; hardware, software and service costs continue to fall. Energy-harvesting power supply is evolving, low power processors, mesh and sensor networks, and tiny embedded operating systems are being prototyped. Plants will soon to tell you when they’re thirsty, clothes will tell us that we are not stretching with the correct posture and just like a car dashboard-light, imbedded sensors in the human body will let us know that something is not performing right, before it’s a problem.

Car insurance is about to be dictated by the car’s (your) driving behavior, loyalty points will go deeper than just transactions and include demeanor. And appliances, utilities and entertainment will all be IP remote controlled from any location. The personalization in social media, presently only an embryo, combined with big data (made useful) and analytics will become the portal to comprehensive CRM (Customer relationship Management). HTML5 and CSS3 coding and apps streamed from servers will sit on old devices, new devices and objects, all connected to the ‘world wide web’, a term that may need to be re-defined.

Hardware devices are becoming a temporary host, connected to scalable, self-service personal clouds, interoperable with family, professional and community cloud environments at your discretion. Image recognition is happening and people, places and objects will have activity streams that will help lead advancements in AI (Artificial Intelligence), which will become mainstream.

Consumers of today and tomorrow, don’t want you to meet their needs; they want you to predict them. The traditional purchase funnel has been turned on its head and the retail landscape is excitingly new.

With catalyst companies like Amazon and Apple leading the novel charge by continuing to innovate their products and cloud based services, you can either watch the world go by in awe or get on the back of the digital peloton. A preponderance of business entities that can’t keep up with the change will be replaced by start-ups and diversified organizations. Unfortunately in any game, there are winners and losers and business is a game. Economics 101 will teach you, scarcity is the problem upon which the entire study of economics is built. A primary implication of scarcity is that the pursuit of an activity results in an opportunity cost and that cost in the digital world is established business.

The world has changed. Our customers are being beckoned away from desktop computing with affordable, always-on, connected mobility. Group and volume discounting has hemorrhaged revenue from traditional retailers with a model that I don’t think is sustainable long term because customer loyalty rather than acquisition, is the key to growth. Our customers are both knowledgeable and price conscious. If we want to increase revenue we have no choice but to deliver compelling online and in-store experiences. The customer is in the driver’s seat and will continue to steer change, so we need to be listening with both ears.

Multichannel, crosschannel, ominichannel bla bla………old news, we ‘re already in a “ONE BRAND SPACE” or “TOTAL RETAIL” environment, if you’re not in this multifaceted touch point world with your brand, balanced across digital and physical channels, then your days are numbered. Total Retail extends past social networks, email, web and mobile, to include the entire customer experience, in-store displays, kiosks, interactive television and set-top boxes are just part of the new mix.

Smartphones (HSPA, LTE, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC) are an extension of a shopper’s hand and are not just being used for comparing products, prices, coupons, taking product pictures, or locating a retail store but actual in-store purchase, an in-store purchase that might not be related to the store the shopper is standing in at the moment of transaction. Mobile phones are not only becoming an individual’s wallet and business POS (Point Of Sale), but an unprecedented opportunity of personalisation that is only limited by its level of perceived creepiness during the in-store shopping experience. Barcodes will continue to drive new mobile marketing campaign concepts in the coming months.

Customers will willingly be exploited by contextual advertising as vendors ensure devices collect information on a customer’s behavior, interests, navigation/mapping service, connected peers and networks. The concept of ‘store assortment localisation’ encourages stores in a franchise model to create custom assortments based on each store’s local characteristics and demographics. A once successful one-size-fits-all retailing model will front challenges, individual stores will need to utilise tools to entertain specific buying patterns of shoppers at each of their stores, catering to particular needs. Localisation is key.

Structured and unstructured data, metrics, psychology, anthropology, sociology, computer science, graphic design and cognitive science are the new ingredients formulating user experience. To follow will be designs that are not just touch and voice based interactions but can adapt and perform with gestural movement, teaching the user whilst simultaneously learning from the user.

We need to be completely aware that like-minded people trust the opinions of their peers above the hype of paid content, so UGC (User generated Content), consumer reviews and ratings are critical. Gamification sparks dopamine and will be embedded in many more brands to engage and build loyalty through emotion.

New marketing channels, incited by technology have disrupted the marketing and communication balance at a time when business priorities emphasise customer growth, retention and satisfaction. The channels have become a fluid interconnected network of information exchange. To succeed and gain market there is no choice but to invest in technology to automate, measure, manage digital marketing programs and strategy. If you haven’t done so already then its time to restructure the organisation, train marketing staff with technical capabilities, educate the business on digital marketing trends, practices and guidance on application. Learn how to use data to manage, measure and optimise marketing processes and learn how to invest, based on the desires of the target market.

Dominic Byrne

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