By Chris Talago It’s always been my belief that technology adoption is most likely when it enhances what we do, or want to do in our daily life. Rarely is technology adoption so seismic that it fundamentally alters the way we live our life. I’m not for one moment suggesting the Internet [caption id="attachment_2469" align="alignright" width="210"]Chris Talago Chris Talago[/caption] wasn’t seismic! Rather that adoption of technology is fastest when it attaches to our very basic needs such as, closer connections to friends and family; better access to stuff we’re interested in, avoiding stuff we’re not interested in. Technology has democratised the purchase cycle over the past 10 years, it has forced businesses into more consistency between their words, actions, products and treatment of stakeholders. At its best, technology has allowed small voices to swell, to get louder, to say ‘that’s not fair’ and to force change. At its worst it has been little better than mob rule. So where next? What do customers want?
  1. Confidence & Contribution. Our trust in the institutions of our lives have taken a major battering over the past few years from banks, to politicians, the catholic church, celebrities, journalists – the age of deference to institutions is dead.We live in the world of peer review, the wisdom of crowds and citizen journalism. We crave ever-greater certainty that we’re making the right purchase decision and then we add to the conversation. Barriers to entry for great multi-media content are falling but getting noticed is harder than ever. We have more information than at any other point in our history… but do we have more knowledge? Fragmentation of influencer landscape leads to increased need for tracking and influence mapping technology.
  2. Immediacy. We want the relationship with the brands we let into our lives to happen where and when we want it – mobile/tablet/any glass, anywhere. Expect everything worth doing to be able to be done on the move.
  3. Surprise and Delight. Cool, new experiences in addition to ‘that thing you do’. From Oculus Rift to Augmented Reality to fun, cool content when I want it. Not just from ‘cool tech’ brands but ‘moments of surprise’ from brands that provide us everyday products e.g. Oreo’s Super Bowl surprise – being agile, listening and responding in real time.
  4. Personalised. I know what I want! - Content filtering technologies such as TIVO and Sky+ will be ever more sophisticated. It will impact business models and approach to monetization. Brands will attempt ever more sophisticated technology to circumvent our attempt to filter. It will matter less and less which discipline comes up with the idea as content shares across traditional boundaries. If interruptive marketing isn’t dead (yet), it’s definitely pretty ill. Permission based marketing and premium content channels are the future.
  5. Transparency & Humanity. Easy access and responsiveness when stuff goes wrong. The need to put a human face in a crisis and a human tone in a response will force internal organisational development.
What do brands want?
  1. Efficiency. Reduce the ‘cost per contact’ with their customers. Understand the role of each tool within the marketing mix for their specific sales cycle. In an integrated model picking apart the pieces becomes ever more complex.
  2. Insight. Really understand what their customers want more (or less) of. Increased automation of measurement technologies. Increase in platform level integration of measurement technologies – dashboard aggregation of metrics.
  3. Micro-marketing. Be able to micro-target customers with specific offers, incentives, rewards with maximum effect. Turning data into insight that’s actionable.
  4. Access & Security. The right data at the right time for marketing (see 3). Not just storage, but security implications of that data retention, data capture, aggregation, analysis and action.
  5. Brand Control. Yes many companies still seem to want this and believe it’s achievable. Just stop it ok… it’s laughable. You’ve lost that war. Move on. Authenticity and advocacy are the future.
What does it all mean?
  1. The walls come crumbling down – the application of technology has historically been about ‘locking down’ enterprise information. Firewalls, policies, approvals, lawyers all geared to prevent leakage. Not now. Businesses are being forced to balance data security with an openness and speed of response in order to be successful.I see one of the largest changes caused by increased use of technology as the fundamental shift in organisational structures. To be successful, brands will need to integrate, partner, source skills and services at a speed that forces change in order to survive. If tight, centralised control has died at the brand level – it will die next at the organisational level – decentralised leaders with initiative and an authority to act will be the most successful.
  2. Focus on ‘what is it we do?’ and develop an ever greater spirit of partnership – this is true for agencies and in-house teams. Linked to the spirit of openness above, we will all need to be far more focused on where the boundaries of our capabilities are. In an integrated landscape, best of breed partnering will need serious attention.
  3. The age of planners, analysts, research and measurement is a HUGE opportunity for us. But we need to standardise systems to let non-comms people gauge the value of campaigns. This is likely the single largest opportunity and threat for us. Demonstrating RoR (Return on Reputation), brand effectiveness or whatever else we choose to call it needs us all to come together to provide agreed metrics.Automation technology will also allow cost reductions, which ensure that measurement, previously unavailable to the vast majority of businesses, will gain mass adoption. We need to be ready. This will also lead to changes in the lifecycle of campaigns. We will run more pilot programmes to A/B test concepts and dynamically alter content through the life of a campaign as audience response is received and assessed in real time. We are entering the age of predictive analytics rather than rear-view measurement.
  4. The tension between scale and personalisation, between data and privacy will begin to be acted on by regulators. I want personalisation… but I don’t want creepy! How much will I give you vs. what do I get for it? We’ve already seen from last week’s EU ruling against Google that the ‘right to be forgotten’ is here. We are in the foothills of governmental bodies understanding the implications of big data. Institutions have already proven to have an appetite for a potentially non-political vote winner. Self-regulation will be important over the next couple of years if we are to enjoy maximum freedom of movement.
  5. Whatever the technology, we remain humans. We’ll still see the same old, same old. Great content will be shared. If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy. Treat your customers like you’d want to be treated. Give and you’ll get. If you’re funny the joke will be shared. Technology will just allow this to happen faster and on a greater scale.
  Chris Talago is head of Waggener Edstrom’s EMEA operations, based in Reading, UK.