Fresh Ideas at Digital First

Author: Alex Papanastassiou

Digital First 2017 in Brussels was once more the place to be for many professionals. Its speaker programme was stacked with experts highlighting the multiple facets of this diamond called digital.

A fine moment to see what’s what in innovation, digital marketing and automation, cloud, e-commerce… Let’s zoom in on Google’s view on digital transformation, adapted content for each ‘micro moment’, and mobile AI.

The crowd at Digital First gave the many speakers its full attention.

Digital transformation and the future of digital marketing

Google’s Rutger Zonneveld gave a very inspiring Keynote. The Sector Leader at the company said we have no choice but to create one-to-one connections at scale, because digital has boosted people’s expectations more than ever.

‘This is good news: all these billions of contact moments
give us great new opportunities to reach out
and touch our audiences.’

If you know when, where and how to make these meaningful connections, you will be a winner in your market. You simply need to be there for many of these moments and understand people’s intent.

Google’s Rutger Zonneveld captures his audience

At Google, one of the most asked questions is ‘What’s going to change’.
This question seems simple but has become almost impossible to answer.
There is simply too much happening, and change has never been faster.

So we should ask… what’s not going to change?

1° We see that radical technology is being democratized by a drop in prices. Disruptive innovations are having a significant impact on the market and users.

2° There’s also data abundance.
Picture this:  90% of the worlds data was generated in the last 2 years, and we can always store more information.
Remember Moore’s Law? It says the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles every two years. To say it with an image, if you fold a giant paper in half 42 times, it’s thick enough to reach the moon!

 Photo: Marcus Spiske

3° We’re also moving towards full connectivity. In the next years, 200 billion things will become connected, and an extra 750 million people will go online, gaining access to the world’s information.

We’re navigating through new territory,
and the customer expect three times more.

1° Help me faster
Because of these fast changes in technology, customers first of all expect to be helped immediately, across their whole experience. More automation is necessary, to find relevant information in your images and data (and now also related to augmented reality).

A maybe not so sexy but really useful example is Ocado in the UK.
This online supermarket created its own data automation model to manage the 2,000 customer emails per day. The tool figures out what the question is, and the priority level to answer it. A real person still is the last filter, but the time consuming ‘first triage’ is now fully automated.

2° Know me better
Data abundance makes customers expect you to be more relevant and more personal when interacting with them. To know them better, we need to be data driven, bringing not just information but highly relevant content.

Stich Fix focuses on creating a personal fashion style service

Stich Fix online clothing for instance asks you to share your current wardrobe and likes in some detail. You also swipe through a clothing collection, quickly choosing what you like and what you don’t. All these data go into the algorithm to create a shortlist, for inspection by your personal IRL style coach, who proposes you the best suited outfits in the end.

3° Wow me everywhere
Connectivity is on the rise, so short moments that ‘wow’ you are no longer enough. Rich experiences have to be sustained along the whole funnel. It’s time to create holistic experiences, and build inspiration throughout the whole journey.

A fine example is how L’Oréal connected its Maybelline makeup brand across multiple moments of truth. You are ‘wowed’ from social media and online inspiration to ‘how to’ clips on YouTube, but then also by the reseller of the brand, in this case Kruidvat, who further delivers on the promise and makes the sale.

Perfect product information,
the Key to success in micro-moments

Henrik Been, VP Product Marketing of InRiver came to the point fast: every product tells a story or has the potential to do so.

It’s about ‘being there’, in micro-moments’ those split seconds when we want to learn, be informed, inspired, and buy things. Every time, they can be the start of a new customer journey (see also this Google long read).

Henrik Been explains millisecond marketing

Adobe calls it ‘Millisecond marketing in action’. Listen to the customers’ signals, predict the experience they seek, assemble the content and deliver it in the way that really makes sense. Recently Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite also commented on this in Adweek.

Today’s marketers have to do more with more data, connecting all the dots.
This is the raw material that feeds Product Information Management (PIM) as ‘single source of truth’. It has to be designed to deliver content for each micro-moment, exactly when the consumer expects a personalized experience.

We sometimes forget this also applies when talking to other businesses. After all, it’s always about building relationships with other human beings.

The PIM system (courtesy Riversand)

An interesting case is Hunkemöller.
When it became a global brand, it had to fix the problem of information silos, linked to markets and languages, and varying data about its fast changing products. The Dutch lingerie retailer now operates with one single version of the truth, in one dataflow for all assortments, with carefully translated and enriched localised versions.

Time for Mobile AI

John Van Lierde, MD at Levelapp said organisations really need to add AI to their approach. We have moved beyond first success stories. AI today allows machines not only to learn things, but also to plan, act, understand, and reason. So it’s the right moment for companies to apply first practices and reap the benefits to enhance customer interactions and process automation.

Photo: Rodion Kutsaev

The many mobile sensors, combined with the growing number
of other sensors, make cognitive computing possible today.

With computing power rocketing and machines that see and hear better than ever before, big data is hitting home. The major players, from Amazon to Microsoft, are investing in voice and cognitive services.  And the impact for us humans is real. Cognitive services give apps a human face, and Bot Frameworks make conversational input the new User Interface.

At Stanford University, for instance, people interacting with a machine via voice went at least three times faster than others who had to type.

Another striking example is the free DoNotPay ‘Chatbot Lawyer’.
This brainchild imagined by a 19-year old whiz kid helped people in New York and London to overturn 160,000 parking tickets in just 21 months, appealing over 4 million dollars of parking fines.

For John Van Lierde, AI is not a threat, on the contrary.
Combined with the human touch, it offers great opportunities to boost our capabilities and achieve greater things than we can on our own.

_ _ _

In Part 2 of this post, you’ll read later that to boldly go where no man has gone before, organisations must combine Spock’s ‘pure logic’ with the intuitive approach of Captain Kirk (with ideas shared by speakers from Sitecore, Dentsu Aegis and Shazam). Live Long, and prosper!

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