In its 50th year, The International CES (Consumer Electronics Show®) is the world's gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. Last week, Las Vegas saw 175,000 registered attendees and 3,800 exhibitors cover 2.6 million square feet of the city.
A team from SapientRazorfish scoured the CES show floor identifying core trends and insights to help us lead our clients to what’s next in consumer technologies, products and trends this year and beyond.
For a long time, the car was an essential possession, a must-have and symbol of status. Marketers focused on appealing to the consumer’s desire to drive a certain type of car in line with their self-image. Today, cars still hold status; however, it is not necessarily the type of car that defines a consumer’s self-image. It’s much more complex.
On the one hand, we see a sociocultural shift taking place and changing the way people think about consumption and ownership, made evident by new business models within the sharing economy for instance. On the other hand, the traditional (product-centric) value chain is being disrupted and atomized by networked technologies, customer expectations, unbundling, and disintermediation, showing that previously defensible differentiation is no longer sufficient.
While recent research confirmed that they still want to buy cars, Millennials do not necessarily value the car itself, but rather how it seamlessly enables their daily lifestyle and mobility. This behavioral and attitudinal shift reflects a deeper, structural shift from products to services. Customer expectations today focus on the on-demand outcomes that services can provide rather than the features of products alone.
With mobility becoming the consumer focus, requirements are changing: customers will want to alternate between solutions fitted for specific purposes and customize their mobility experience accordingly. These expectations range from choosing traditional (in the future, on-demand) car features based on info and entertainment systems and interfaces that seamlessly connect with customers’ multiple devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, wearables) to extended mobility services that may or may not center around an owned or shared car.
By moving from their traditional product- and technology-driven past towards a service-driven future focused on connecting the consumer lifestyle, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will be able to accommodate customers’ constant need for change, allow for customer participation in telling their story, and offer inclusive experiences that differentiate their brands and increase their loyalty. This necessary shift from asset building to network orchestration (i.e., managing a customer-centric ecosystem incorporating a variety of products and services) adds complexity to an already-intricate industry.
Service design experts utilize a stage framework to manage a similar complexity. By adding a key layer to the same framework, OEMs can structure and master the complexity ahead.
Art acts like a mirror.
It can reflect something in ourselves which is inaccessible, stimulate the imagination, and unlock forgotten or repressed desires and emotions.
Art helps us make sense of the world around us. The practice of making art is one of selection, of filtering out the irrelevant to expose the significant. And, by doing so, we reveal the patterns and rules that govern nature, empowering us to navigate the man-made world and master it.
To help expose this significance, we identified a handful of themes in classical art that link the historical, analog world to the world of today: Existential evidence, kinesis (movement), spatial awareness, and open vs. closed forms.
From digital identity to the architectural structure of the Internet, we examined the themes that have fascinated artists and digital scribes alike, and uncovered what the digital world can learn from art practice.
Digital marketing planning has permanently changed. What was once a focus on banner ads, microsites, and website optimization is now a platform approach that emphasizes the multichannel experience.
And in a digital marketing world replete with new data sources – mobile phones, connected cars, and in-store beacons, to name a few – managing the customer experience is more challenging than ever.
To respond, leading companies are now realizing that they need to integrate their marketing systems and create a new marketing “operating system,” if you will, that bridges and enables customer outreach at scale.
These new platforms, called Digital Experience Platforms (DEPs) by many industry players (see the “What’s in a name?” sidebar), can be deeply integrated into any customer touchpoint, including the Internet of Things (IoT), and are even getting into the world of transactions. They create, optimize, and orchestrate the multiple elements of modern marketing (like digital ads, mobile tools, e-commerce pricing, in-store signage). And with improvements in workflow, project management, and business processes, DEPs are helping marketers streamline operations, as well as manage and optimize creative assets.
The successful use of DEPs depends on recognizing their new – surprisingly strategic – role. How do you coordinate your marketing in a very complex digital world? How do you plan and measure Experiences?
In this article, we propose a new approach to the challenge of planning, defining, and building digital experience platforms, built on our hard-won experience implementing these platforms.
For the past few years, brands have been getting very good at using technology to make location-based marketing immersive and experiential. JCPenney has used Oculus Rift headsets to send in-store shoppers on a virtual tour of the North Pole during the holiday shopping season. Target operates a concept store in San Francisco that gives shoppers first-hand experience with the Internet of Things. And thousands of (mostly small) businesses experimented with augmented reality and virtual destinations in and around their stores to attract Pokémon GO players during the summer of 2016. These businesses aim to drive more foot traffic to their thousands of stores by using technology to re-contextualize their stores as places to experience and learn, in addition to buying products. Businesses will continue to apply technology to make locations matter, either by making shopping easier or by enriching shopping with an experience.
But something else is going on: Businesses – brick-and-mortar outlets and the brands that sell their products inside of them – are increasingly using technology to reach consumers before, during, and after purchase. They are applying smarter online targeting tools and physical objects such as Amazon’s Dash button to create experiences that redefine location marketing in the context of where the consumer is, in addition to where the store is. Increasingly, these context-aware experiences are happening in three crucial locations: in homes, on the go, and at/near a store.
As a result, businesses must master the contextual customer journey by creating experiences that resonate with consumers in the context of the circumstances in which people make purchasing decisions. On any given day, the context of a consumer's journey may change several times, depending on factors such as where the consumer is (at home, in a car, etc.), what device he/she is using, and ambient circumstances (such as weather conditions outdoors or noise levels indoors). Businesses that understand context become relevant at each stage of the journey.
Customer experience (CX) has finally reached prime time. It is being recognized broadly as a key differentiator of the products and services that businesses offer, no matter what the industry. Business leaders get it: The environments they create and interactions they foster for their customers define their brands. As such, they need to pay closer attention to experience design and related disciplines [including user experience (UX), customer experience (CX), and human computer interactions (HCI)].
Along with the aforementioned C-level epiphany, experience designers and product managers are being inundated with (often contradictory) advice from bloggers, analysts, and self-proclaimed experts on how to achieve breakthrough experiences. And, among this rabble, those same product managers have also formed their own opinions about experience design – opinions which are often heavily influenced by idiosyncratic brand loyalties.
In a world where digital interactions pervade almost every experience that customers have with a brand, business leaders can’t afford to get UX wrong. But how can they get it right when design opinions are endless, design patterns are seemingly infinite, and consumer interactions and expectations are ever-evolving?
We recommend starting by taking a step back, understanding the foundations of experience design, and debunking some of the contemporary, mainstream myths.
In 2010, in a brilliant piece of foreshadowing, Scott Brinker, marketing expert and thought leader, heralded the rise of the marketing technologist. Since that time, the role of the MarTech professional – and, by extension, that of their executive counterpart, the Chief Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO) – has leap-frogged into common parlance and become a regular fixture in marketing organizations.
In an equally provocative point of view, Gartner analyst Laura McLellan predicted in 2012 that within the next five years, CMOs would spend more on technology than CIOs – an idea that her fellow Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman recently confirmed as fact. He notes that increasingly, marketing has become a digital activity and as “digital marketing becomes marketing in a digital world, technology is woven into virtually every planning assumption.”
Why is this meaningful? Because the game has changed.
Marketing organizations large and small must grapple with the effects of a digital tsunami. Most businesses are struggling not just with digitization as it relates to their customers’ world, but consequently, that of business itself. The fundamental role of Information Technology (IT) has evolved from being a commoditized tool that made businesses more efficient, to also being the primary medium of dialog with customers. And thus, it is no surprise that the role of the marketing technologist – sitting at the nexus of marketing and IT – has risen to prominence in many organizations.
In this – our second survey of marketing technologists conducted in collaboration with Scott Brinker and the MarTech Conference – we captured the sentiment of more than 250 practicing marketing technologists. This research builds upon our 2014 report, Analyzing the Chief MarketingTechnologist, and further explores the evolution of this group’s skillset and responsibilities, as well as its alignment within the organization and increasing role in digital business transformation.
And our findings were striking...
The “Holiday Code Freeze” is a longstanding tradition in retail. As the thinking goes, you lock everything down and attempt to get to the end of the holiday season without any changes in code. The goal is selling the highest volume of products to the highest volume of customers, regardless of the quality of the customer experience. But could that be misguided?
In this data-driven webinar, SapientNitro VPs Shirley Romig and Zachary Jean Paradis make a compelling case for doing away with the “Holiday Code Freeze” in order to respond quickly to customer expectations and deliver a superlative customer experience – the key business performance factor in our changing digital world.
Apple Pay, Google Wallet, voice payment, payment in messaging apps, Bitcoin, merchant-led solutions, bank-owned solutions. Payment options—driven by a whirlwind of new technology and shifting consumer preferences—are changing. And banking executives are faced with sorting out if and how to respond with a mobile payment strategy that both aligns with their bank’s overall strategy and offers a return.
In this video, SapientNitro's David Poole and Gregory Boullin, along with special guest Jacob Morgan, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, share their perspective on how the payment experience is evolving and how banks can employ successful mobile payment strategies.
Virtual reality (VR) has arrived. Now is the time for brands to begin experimenting with VR experiences – a trend that can already be seen across industries such as entertainment, retail, and travel.
Augmented reality (AR), a sister technology to VR, is a few years further behind. AR technology seamlessly blends the physical world and the digital one using headsets from Microsoft and others. Already extensively and effectively used by the military and business-to-business applications, consumer applications are still very much works in progress.
That being said, brands who do not act (or at least consider acting) now will be at a disadvantage – a disadvantage similar to that of those who initially ignored the mobile revolution. VR will be a major platform for brands by 2020, very much like the first few years of social media adoption. And, in order for the trend to be fully realized, consumers will need to embrace the technology and, in many cases, buy a headset themselves.
With recent consumer behavior depicting a clear enthusiasm toward them, both VR and AR are burgeoning. Brands that explore VR and AR now will already have a presence once the trend goes mainstream. And, while some marketers recognize the potential engagement of these alternative realities, most do not recognize the power that these tools have to build brand affinity, deepen customer relationships, and really transform strategies and experiences in the long-term
For enterprise information technology (IT) professionals, and increasingly the board of directors, delivering software in an iterative and continuous manner is no longer optional. In fact, continuous delivery, powered by development and operations (DevOps) and other methodologies, has been shown to enable business transformation and improve business results by delivering software products to market faster, reducing downtime costs, reducing risk, and other benefits.
Yet in our recently conducted survey of IT experts, just 23 percent of companies support an “experimentation culture” – one characterized by “test and learn” and “small and frequent” methods. Most large companies are not embracing modern development best practices.
In a separate question, the culture and mindset change was the biggest challenge. One expert noted, “[the biggest challenge] is the people and not the technology. Changing people’s mindset, be it for agile, microservices or experimentation-orientation, would take considerable effort.”
In today’s always-on age, customers are less patient and expect to interact almost instantly. This requires software delivery to be transformed into an outside-in function that plans, builds, and runs technology according to how customers move within market spaces.
In this article, we explain how we’ve helped clients embrace continuous delivery, and respond to the challenge of the always-on age. We’ll also share our latest research into enterprise IT practices and the current state of enterprise IT.
Ten years from now, cars will be unrecognizable. Technological advancements, government mandates, consumer trends, and emerging markets will continue to drive evolution in the auto industry.
Indeed, our interconnected lives and need for immediate information and sharing of content are pushing automotive manufacturers to rethink how they create cars. From a technology perspective, our smartphones play the biggest role in development with 72 percent of smartphone users finding value in a connected vehicle solution, particularly when it comes to safety, traffic, weather, navigation, maintenance, access, and entertainment.
But with the rapid rate of technological advancements, automotive manufacturers are facing the nearly impossible challenge of creating innovative solutions and integrating them quickly. By understanding how technologies and manufacturing will change, these organizations can determine where future business opportunities can be utilized.
The future evolution and simultaneous convergence of powertrain technologies, lightweight materials, advances in connected vehicles, shifts in mobility preferences, and the emergence of autonomous vehicles are the most effective growth strategies to broaden the automotive industry’s focus beyond just products. Undoubtedly, there will be contrast by regions and demographics of inhabitants pertaining to needs and use, but the overarching trend is clear: The automotive future stems from tech-enabled convenience, safety, and efficiency.Download the Article
Organizational agility is vital in today’s digital world. History is filled with examples of organizations that have suffered the consequences of not adapting or transforming. Of the original Fortune 500 companies in 1955, just seventy-one remain on the list today.
Agility enables the change of processes, speeds the delivery of new products and services, and even allows culture to evolve. Agility enables an organization to respond to rapidly changing marketing dynamics and, most important, address the ever-evolving demands and preferences of the customer.
In our work with global clients, we often use three organizational agility frameworks to enable continuous transformation. For many of these organizations, survival demands sustained rapid change to compete with both nimble startups and traditional opponents.
Continuous transformation is, in many cases, a cultural shift for an organization. Companies, their leadership, and their employees must be willing to adapt, embrace innovative thinking, and react to changing consumer needs and wants by getting products and services to market in increasingly shorter timeframes. Innovation alone cannot accomplish this – a framework, such as one of these three, can be helpful to guide the transformationDownload the Article
Marketers have long acknowledged that customer behavior has both rational and emotional drivers. While rational drivers have been relatively easy to assess, it has historically been difficult for marketers to measure the emotional side. Instead, we have relied on methods like self-reporting and direct observation to glean emotional insights, but these methods are limited to what people can express. They are also modified by which emotions people choose to show marketers while being observed.
Emotions drive our thoughts, perceptions, and behaviors across environments and cultures, so it should be no surprise that they impact brand experiences too. Emotions drive resonance in brand messaging, brand loyalty, and buying behavior.
Recently, the technology of directly measuring an individual’s emotional response to a piece of content (e.g., video or advertisement) or experience (e.g., in-venue event, video game, or vehicle) has become refined and reliable.
Yet many marketers still hesitate to use emotion insights.
With the rise of more sophisticated emotion insights methodologies over the last several years, however, marketers have the opportunity to give voice to the emotional drivers of customer decisions. Marketers can take a more balanced approach to data with research programs that are inclusive of both rational and emotional marketing drivers. Most important, they can leverage emotion insights to demonstrate the success of marketing outcomes too – thereby giving them a richer and more holistic story to tell about marketing performance.Download the Article
In this piece, Leda Glyptis, Director at Sapient, explores digital disruption and the impact it has on the process-heavy business of banking. She illustrates that with the digital transformation of ‘so-that’ industries, transactions laden with friction and human interaction are made seamless, participatory experiences evolve to meet the needs of customers, and in turn a new value grid emerges.Download the Article
It’s been five years since IBM’s artificial intelligence, Watson, beat human contestants on the game show Jeopardy! Still, to this day, many people think of artificial intelligence (AI) as science fiction — a cunning computer run amok or a loyal companion robot.
The reality is much more practical.
“Enhancing the human ability to process” is a strong statement and the stakes are enormous for the early innovators, as well as for the broader economy. Artificial intelligence technologies have the potential to transform entire business models at a clip reminiscent of the industrial revolution. The question is: How can companies take full advantage of such a fundamentally disruptive group of technologies?
For business leaders, it is important to have a basic understanding of how the major technologies that constitute AI can deliver optimal business impact by enabling their companies to provide products and services to meet their customers’ needs when and where they need them.
To provide such products and services requires the ability to collect and analyze vast amounts of structured and unstructured data, and to use the insights gained from that data to inform business decisions and take action in real time.
Although the application of each technology on its own can result in improved business performance, the truly transformative value and future of AI will lie in the ability to seamlessly layer data analytics, machine learning, and causal reasoning platforms to deliver insight-driven, personalized products and services.
In particular, this combination offers great promise for changing the way that brands approach marketing. By using these technologies in concert with each other, marketers can obtain a better understanding of consumer and behavioral data, and enable far more granular personalization of the customer experience.
Download the Article
Financial services is seeing a surge of innovation. And retail banks, in particular, have been quick to embrace digital transformation, understanding that today’s customer demands greater convenience and access than just a few years ago.
Few banks exemplify this trend as well as RBS, the predominant payments provider in the United Kingdom, the economy with the highest digital payments usage in the world. The number of electronic payments (52 percent) in the UK market now exceeds cash payments (48 percent), and over half of digital sales are now made through mobile devices.
Over the last six years, RBS has released a series of innovations and internal changes in order to adapt to a more competitive marketplace. RBS has transformed its organization to focus on customer experience, building on its history of deep product and channel centricity. Guided by the promise of “Helpful Banking,” the organization has been building a digitally-led culture, reimagining internal structures, and subsequently bettering its customers’ lives.
In boardrooms around the world, senior executives are discussing a common dilemma: how to create transformative experiences and business models that improve their customers’ lives, drive growth, and boost profitability and efficiency.
Regardless of industry or location, businesses are facing a new world. By 2026, the average Standard & Poor's 500 business will last just fourteen years. The average business model is sustained for roughly half that: just six years. What was once a landscape of five-year strategies, long-lived information technology (IT) investments, and product line extensions is evolving into a rapid series of digital business transformation initiatives, platform thinking, and customer experience. The continued evolution of digital capabilities is pushing businesses to rethink their fundamental views on customers, competitors, products, and partners.
For most companies, the strategic imperative should not just be doing things right, more efficiently, or optimally. Leaders must also determine the right things to do. Now is the time to reflect and consider the fundamentals of value creation in the business – to go beyond the immediate, incremental change. How are you serving your customers? Where do you want to fit into their lives? Are your traditional ways of generating value sufficient?Download the Article
The retail industry remains poised on a knife’s edge. Dropping foot traffic, new online-only competitors, and profound changes in customer preferences have buffeted the industry for a decade or more.
Yet the same technology disrupting retail may also be its salvation. Click and collect in-store. Mobile apps. E-commerce. Instagram. Beacons.
In this, our third annual retail study, we’ve tried to take a fairly comprehensive look at how retailers are responding to this new environment. How effectively are retailers weaving together mobile apps, e-commerce platforms, and in-store innovations? What does the current state of retailing tell us about the future?
Banks have gotten the message that messaging apps have taken over. Usage of the top four social networks is now surpassed by the top four messaging apps – Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Viber. These messaging apps have opened up their platforms for brands to build artificial intelligence-powered bots to join the customers’ conversations.
In this piece Mauricio Figueroa, Senior Associate, Business Consulting, shares that bank bots encourage deeper engagement than a standard banking app through the more accessible conversational interface. Additionally, that bots can reduce the cost to service customers, but also provide new forms of value.Download the Article
Software is eating the world. That’s what famed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen said in a Wall Street Journal article in 2011. Fast forward five years and it’s clear that he was correct – software is indeed ubiquitous.
But not all software is equal. Messaging apps are experiencing a meteoric rise above all others. Flurry, a mobile analytics firm, says that messaging app sessions saw a 103 percent rise globally as far back as 2014, and sustained a 51 percent rise in 2015. General-purpose chat app WhatsApp had 50 percent greater traffic than all global text message use. And WeChat, the dominant chat app in China, had more mobile transactions over the 2016 Chinese New Year than PayPal had during all of 2015.
This evolution of messaging platforms and the rise of chatbots represents a paradigm shift in our always-on world. Marketers now have the opportunity to be more plugged in to their target consumers’ conversations. And, as a business today, it is critical to understand this mega-trend and respond in short order. This is the dawn of the “post app” era and will be as transformational for businesses and consumers as apps were a decade ago.Download the Article
Insurance has never been more digital, connected, mobile, social, and measurable.
In the first half of 2016, over $1 billion of funding was invested in “insurtech” and, with over eighty deals, it is on track to be 42 percent higher than in 2015. Yet the agent-driven business model has largely missed the benefits of much of this innovation. Instead, direct-to-customer insurers have, so far, been the biggest beneficiaries.
This is poised to change. Today, insurance is a complex customer journey to manage. And there is a need for new digital ways to do business. We have seen how experiences offered by digital transformation unlock the opportunity for insurers to better protect customers at scale.
But when applied strategically to the insurer’s agent channel, digital advances (many pioneered by the direct-to-customer model) have the potential to enhance the agent’s value proposition by enabling collaboration, personalization, and efficiencies in service. Digital integration will simplify agents’ customer-facing capabilities, while driving preference for a new generation of agents searching for the easiest insurer to work with.
Apple made one thing clear at their 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference: Mobile payments aren’t just for brick and mortar stores anymore. The company’s decision to integrate its digital wallet service into mobile-web experiences is possibly the most important advancement the payment space has seen in the past five years.
Significant as this announcement is, the battle to become the universal digital wallet is far from decided. In 2015, transactions made from mobile phones totaled $8.7 billion in the U.S. and are expected to grow 210 percent to $27 billion by the end of 2016. With plans to be a preferred payment option and leverage transactional data (Google), reduce transaction fees (retailers), be the default payment card for mobile payments (banks), or be the preferred online payment platform (technology leaders), providers are unlikely to surrender their slices of the market without a serious fight.
Every player – from the majors like Apple Pay and Android Pay to startups like Stripe and Square – is locked in a battle to own the space. Only time will tell how they will evolve and who will win. In the interim, there are three recommendations that retailers can consider as they navigate the changing mobile payments field:
Retail banks, financial technology startups, and merchants have all been caught in a whirlwind of new technology and shifting consumer preferences. Bitcoin. Alipay. Apple Watch. NFC. Google Wallet. Payment options are changing.
The evolving consumer is perhaps the biggest single driver for change. This new, global consumer — connected, smartwatch-wielding, and always on — is having a profound impact on the banking ecosystem. To better understand this new behavior, we surveyed approximately 500 U.S. smartphone-using consumers to understand how frequency, convenience, and security are playing a role in reshaping the mobile payment market.
According to our research, banks – with higher consumer trust (43 percent) than any other player in the ecosystem – hold strong potential for growth and leadership. Despite the proliferation of payment startups, most transactions still run through the traditional bank networks of Automated Clearing House, wire, and cards – thereby directly compensating banks in the process.
For banking executives, these changes represent a profound transformation, and, we believe, a profound opportunity. However, to avoid being sidestepped by novel players (e.g., technology startups) entering this lucrative space, banks will need to take several steps:
In this report, we pair our recent consumer research with global data and the strengths of key market players to decipher the four trends that stand to affect — and propel — banks into the mobile payment mainstream.
In widely-circulated press releases and industry articles, digital innovation often translates to 3D printing or virtual reality experiments, magic mirror installations or complicated omni-channel implementations.
It’s understandable then – when headlines and word of mouth cater to the most remarkable cases – that a majority of luxury retail brands have decided that digital innovation is not mission-critical. In fact, many seem to have deprioritized even the most foundational element of any business (not just digital) strategy: the e-commerce website.
Based on a research audit that we conducted in May 2016, just 65 percent of the largest global luxury retailers sold products via e-commerce. However, with online expected to drive 40 percent of sales growth for luxury brands by 2020, it's time for the rest of the late adopters to convert.
This is not a call for transformation, but rather a plea for rational thought. A website is a storefront that reaches more (qualified) consumers than brick-and-mortar vitrines. It must make an impactful first impression, properly represent the brand, and offer service and purchase experiences that are as seamless as those in a physical store.
Consumers expect personalized experiences, with content aimed directly at their needs and desires. They expect to be able to engage with a brand anywhere and at any time, while technologies like mobile, social media, responsive environments, and the cloud are leading to disruption in the retail industry by creating new models for customer interaction. As a retailer, now is the time to shift your perspective and leverage these changes to your competitive advantage.
It’s not about adding digital channels to your current model, or digitizing parts of it. It’s about truly changing with technology to enable problem solving and the ability to provide greater relevance with every customer interaction. Future winners in retail will power and connect the full customer journey, providing platforms that realize customer ambition and solve for needs throughout the path to purchase.
Mobile is the most essential and dominant consumer platform of this century. Mobile platforms dominate because they connect consumers at all times and places, and help create a more individualized experience. For example, Target’s Cartwheel (the retailer’s U.S. savings app) is responsible for more than $1 billion in sales annually and encourages increased customer engagement through interactive features like scanning, exclusive offers, social integration, and game-like rewards.1 Target reported that Cartwheel users spend more per trip and visit more often.2 Future, successful retailers will recognize mobile for the dominant platform that it is and, subsequently, optimize their customer experiences for it.
The store is no longer just the end point of the journey. As foot traffic in retail decreases globally, the role of the store needs to be re-evaluated. While retailers should still aim to increase in-store sales, brick and mortar spaces should also be seen as media and content ecosystems, opportunities for decision support, or ways for customers to get extended care. A smart retailer uses its store as a foothold for all of its activities, rather than just as its experience journey’s final frame. Nordstrom is famously focused on great products and stellar customer service. In-store experiences, like their personal shopping service, provide hooks that drive shoppers to digital properties and, ultimately, to conversion.
The harsh reality is that few retailers have app download numbers worth boasting. The opportunity to support, engage, and extend the shopping experience through in-store digital touchpoints cannot be ignored. That said, you can’t just recast your website in-store. Solutions need to be created to solve the problems that customers face.
Home Depot’s Appliance Finder is a great example of this. This large, touch-based tool has significantly increased the company’s highest-margin-category sales by delivering an experience focused exclusively on the challenge of selling an appliance – a complex product whose sheer size makes it hard for shoppers to assess online and for Home Depot to maintain a full assortment of in-store.3 The scale and fidelity of the Appliance Finder interface allows customers to get a realistic sense for how appliances will look and feel in their homes, both freeing customers to research options without an associate and providing well-designed support for clienteling with an associate. Not least of all, it allows Home Depot to merchandise a broader assortment of appliances without having to utilize additional space or invest in stocked products for every location.
Traditional loyalty programs focused on cards, tiers, and points aren’t going to succeed in creating devoted brand enthusiasts – there are simply too many retailers vying for attention. Instead, the focus of these programs needs to be driving relevance with customers. It’s about connecting customers to the store beyond the physical location through pre- and post-purchase interactions and opportunities, increasing the time that customers spend with the brand and introducing complementary products and services. For example, Starbucks’ app acts as its loyalty program and is wildly successful.4 The app not only reduces friction for purchasing, stores customers’ favorites, and reduces wait times, but it also increases conversion and helps upsell. This is the future of loyalty.
In the past, the assumed driver of competitive advantage in mass retail was the scale of a retailer’s footprint. The opportunity was, therefore, enabled or limited by that scale. Moving forward, connection with the larger ecosystem is the bigger opportunity. With the advent of application programming interfaces (APIs), retailers can easily expose their product catalogs, carts, and other e-commerce services. These services can be consumed and integrated by a wide variety of partners and platforms (such as Google, Pinterest, and Facebook), thereby providing a path for growth without the need to scale physical infrastructure.
Best Buy, for example, uses their API to integrate with CitiBank’s rewards program and allow CitiBank customers to redeem points for Best Buy products directly from the CitiBank rewards site.
The bottom line is that, as a retailer (even one that’s doing “well enough”), the imperative to change is in the air. More than ever, consumers are increasingly in control and demanding of integrated omnichannel experiences. This requires us to re-imagine business in the age of the customer. And the time to transform is now.
As the influence of print as an advertising medium diminishes, luxury retail brands have turned to digital to engage with consumers in new ways. However, this transition has been fraught with difficulties. Luxury brand owners have struggled to help people discover products online, connect with exclusive brand ambassadors, and express themselves in a world of unlimited possibility.
The luxury market also long stayed away from digital integration. Overwhelming popularity – especially that triggered by social networks and apps – does not typically align with exclusivity (a struggle exemplified by Michael Kors, one of the first advertisers on Instagram). However, digital integration is no longer an option. The latest projections suggest that by 2020, online is expected to drive 40 percent of sales growth for luxury brands.
And digital integration is long overdue. While luxury retailers fear that technology’s pace of evolution is discordant with their cultures, customers, and in-store experiences, the truth is quite the opposite.DOWNLOAD THE ARTICLE
By Stephen Tracy
It has been another milestone year for the digital analytics industry. For one, the International Data Corporation predicted that the annual compound growth rate of the big data and analytics market (including hardware, software, and services) will be 23.1 percent between 2014 and 2019, culminating in an annual spend of $48.6 billion in 2019. In addition, while automation will allow companies’ human resources to shift from data preparation to data science, Forrester argues that this year will see firms turning more and more toward insights-as-a-service and data science-as-a-service providers.
This points to an important trend in the digital analytics industry. That is, many organizations today seem to be less constrained by the choice of which solution, platform, or architecture best suits their needs as they are stifled by how to find and nurture the right talent to succeed with analytics. And this issue isn’t limited to big data analytics. No matter what volume, velocity, or structure of data you’re working with, the issue for many business leaders is the same: How can I use the data that I have to make better business decisions?
What seems to be missing from most conversations related to analytics talent today is the role of communication – or more specifically, storytelling.
By Hilding Anderson, David Poole, Danielle Gianola & Emily Wyatt
Creating great customer experiences across channels, apps, and touchpoints has always required a deeper understanding of customer behavior. That, in turn, requires research.
We conducted an 8-month study to understand exactly how customers are using their smartphones for retail banking. Using digital activity logging technology, as well as surveys, we were able to see (and learn from) every smartphone activity – at a millisecond level – of our panel of over 800 people.
The resulting behavioral data showed us that people are visiting their banks 5.5 times per week via smartphone, but are spending just 28 seconds per visit. We learned that 1-in-4 participants use mobile payments two to three times per week. And, particularly important for banking executives, our sample of mobile bankers want banks to improve existing features more than introduce new ones.
In this report, we use these and more of our key findings around contemporary smartphone banking to delve into experience-led banking transformation.
The last few years have seen an explosion of emojis and visual language innovation. In 2015, the Oxford English Dictionary declared the 😂 face – with tears of joy – the word of the year. YELP, Bing, and Instagram have emoji-enabled search. You can order a pizza, get room service, and even fight bullying with emojis.
For digital marketers, this presents an incredible opportunity. We are witnessing the beginnings of a new language and, if we want to stay close or get closer to our consumers, then we will need to learn how to use it.
Emojis and stickers are more than cute platforms for campaigns targeted at the coveted Millennial. This evolving, visual communication language is becoming a natural – and highly useful – part of our digital conversations. Through emojis and stickers, people have found a shortcut for expressing complex feelings and are thus achieving a new kind of digital intimacy.
And, while some are already seizing this, more marketers should want in on the opportunity that lies ahead.
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Since nearly the inception of banking, the branch (or its early-days equivalent) was at the center of the banking experience. But today, new technology and consumer expectations mean that the branch is just one touchpoint among many within a customer-centric brand ecosystem.
In response, banks are launching a new range of bank branches and redefining how, when, and where customers can interact. This new range of bank branches has major implications for the future of the industry, and requires a nuanced understanding of customers’ lives and journeys.
The future of the bank branch is really about customer choice, with new branch formats and more complex customer journeys differentiating leading banks from also-rans.
This changing landscape presents banks with an opportunity to design branches in entirely new ways, and interact with their consumers through more contextual and unique experiences. In an effort to optimize the bank branch, banks are seen embracing a new strategy, which we call Branches of Choice.
By Rob Murray and Derek Kopen
What does “good” service actually mean in the digital age?
The answer to this question is not an easy one. Today’s fickle customers
want what they want when they want it. One minute they might want a human to answer the phone while another they wish to resolve an issue without any human interaction at all.
One way to answer the above question is to look at an industry that has
stood at the forefront of customer service for centuries and is currently at the center of the customer experience battleground: the concierge. As brands attempt to appropriate the language of personalized and bespoke services, they are increasingly rebranding
digital service capabilities as “concierge offerings.”
In digital marketing, leveraging analogies to reimagine products and
services is a powerful tool. Analogies link the new and unfamiliar with the common and relatable. Studying the concierge, for example, reveals a range of ways that brands can use technology to amplify, preserve, and automate the human touch. However, while
the concierge is a particularly powerful analogy, evoking this concept in digital must be done carefully.
By Neil Dawson, Daniel Harvey & Will Anderson
As traditional business models and routes to market fall apart, the music industry provides invaluable lessons to marketers everywhere – a useful “canary in the coal mine”.
The music industry continues to suffer – and sometimes benefit – from the combined assaults of technological innovation, always-on (particularly millennial) consumers, the degradation of legal controls and copyright, start-ups and acquisitions, and the random interventions of creative egos. No industry has been disrupted so deeply or frequently, or indeed contains as many lessons or inspirations for brands and marketers in all sectors. The music industry is proving to be the preeminent crucible of disruption, with a wealth of innovations and experiments in marketing (both successful and otherwise).
By looking at four moments that occurred in 2015, we can begin to understand the volatility and opportunity that exists within the industry, as well as broader lessons for brands in all markets as they address their own particular challenges.Download the Article
We live in a transformative time, one that has given marketers the power to disseminate, influence, and guide through new methods and channels.
In the midst of such exponential growth, however, it is often wise to pause and reflect. We continue to move forward with great speed, but in what manner? How are agencies, brands, and people applying their attention and energies in this always-on world? What are the qualities – the values – of the change we’re helping drive?
Throughout SapientNitro’s Idea Exchange events, provocative answers to these questions were seen sprouting from the work of game changers across industries. We’ve witnessed the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee; Academy Award winning actor and content innovator, Kevin Spacey; and renowned athlete and social media maverick, LeBron James, share how this transformational change continues to impact technology, media, and sports alike.
From data and platform to content and voice, several overarching themes can be seen connecting the future of our industry to these innovative thinkers, their work exemplifying the captivation of audiences through well-constructed experiences. When combined, their insights highlight the symphony of technology, storytelling, and humanity.Download the article
“Engaging.” It is something that anyone designing an interaction or an experience would love to hear someone say about their work: “That was really engaging” or “I was so engaged with that!”
But to evaluate a brand or design’s claim to be more engaging is to be faced with a different question entirely. While it might be easy to judge that something is two inches thinner, three times as fast, or “now has 10% more!”, what is there to measure in a claim that one experience is more engaging than its precursor or a competing alternative? Is there a way to meaningfully evaluate engagement in away that makes comparing experiences possible?
As researchers, we’re convinced that a metric for engagement can be built. There have been a host of previous attempts to define engagement, but few have held up to careful scrutiny. In 2006, the Advertising Research Foundation itself endeavored to end the confusion and establish an industry standard definition: Engagement is turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context.
Nearly a decade has passed and no one seems to know exactly what that means. So we’ve begun looking at behaviors from our own usual starting point: consumer experience.Download the article
Motion and animation have long been part of online experiences. From ASCII-based “video” on green screens to AOL’s “You’ve Got Mail” icon, animations have been in the repertoire of digital designers for years.
However, it was only in 2011 that the latest wave of browsers officially recognized CSS – unlocking sophisticated web animations without the restriction of a plug-in. But now, with improved browser-based animation support, shrinking screens, and more processing power, motion design is poised to become a cornerstone of the modern user experience in a way that it was not in the past.
Whether used on digital displays in venue, on desktop computers, or on smartphone apps, motion and animation are changing the user experience.
Why use animation? When done well, motion imbues an experience with functionality, as well as personality and style. Such meaningful, animated interactivity gives the user interface, regardless of platform, a competitive edge.
How, you may ask? And how will motion and animation play out over the next few years?Download the article
Banking is getting better – faster, easier, more mobile, more connected, more transparent, and more personal. And, for many banks, there has been a very public and intentional renewed focus on customer advocacy – on rebuilding the trust lost during the financial crisis. Yet, despite years of ad campaigns, a full 63 percent of consumers believe banks only care about their own interests.
We believe banks must bridge the divide between what they say they do and what they actually do with a new service orientation that responds to customers’ needs, wants, and desires. The future of banking is about enabling customers to realize their dreams.
The first step? Understand your customer and simplify your product set.
Earning public trust is a matter of the customer’s banking experience living up to the brand’s promise. This hinges upon a detailed understanding of the customer’s changing expectations, particularly the need for purpose. We are seeing leading banks flip the current simple view of the customer, and endlessly complex view of the product set, on its head.Download the Article
We believe virtual reality is going to fundamentally transform the human experience of shopping and, in doing so, lift sales for those retailers who get ahead of the curve.
Brands have an opportunity to stake out an innovation leadership position by building custom virtual reality experiences that engage customers beyond physical and digital brand experiences. We call this v-commerce. V-commerce will be the next evolution of e-commerce, as retailers and brands create fully immersive, contextual shopping experiences that go beyond the flat world of 2-D e-commerce.
Along with the inherent excitement it fosters, virtual reality adds an enticing layer of information and comfort to the e-commerce experience. Consumers can be presented with a range of data regarding the products or services they are about to purchase, complemented by their ability to step into the future – into their future selves with said products and services.
With virtual reality removing the barrier of too little information or interaction, consumers are likely to develop a confidence in their purchases that then translates into increased comfort with (and affinity toward) the brand providing such distinct experiences. They are more likely to reach the renowned euphoric state of discovering a great buy, one that they not only wish to brag about, but will also remember and come back for.Download the Article
Retailers and venue operators have always faced massive challenges, but the latest wave of disruption has made many of them yearn for the simpler days of sales-per-square-foot reports, staff turnover mitigation, product planograms, and endless campaigns to curb shrink.
Declining in-store traffic, an emboldened competitive set, and new technologies – beacons, mobile payment, till-less checkout, and other technologies – have kept folks up at night in the home offices and back offices of nearly every retailer.
And retailers have responded. In the past five years, we’ve witnessed and participated in significant digital experimentation and pilots.
For many retailers, mobile apps have been a first area of focus. We believe that while this makes sense pre- and post-visit, there is a more limited role to be played by mobile tools while in the store. Barcode scanning, wayfinding (for some audiences), product information and reviews, and gift registry management are some effective applications. But brands should take care that they don’t push their best customers toward a “heads-down” shopping experience.
Instead, retailers should look beyond these small, bring-your-own-device approaches and really rethink the venue. With e-commerce representing only 9 percent of all commerce interactions in the U.S., retailers who integrate the digital and physical worlds will have a significant competitive advantage.Download the Article
Much (perhaps too much) has been written about the “Internet of Things” or “Internet of Everything.” But the idea itself has been around for decades. Marshall McLuhan described the “content” of a light bulb in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man in 1964. Decades later, Mark Weiser described physical manifestations and uses of ubiquitous computing in “The Computer for the 21st Century.”
However, the actual technology to make the IoT practical and affordable has only been around for a few years. Together, the advent of simple communications protocols (like Bluetooth low energy); the continued evolution of processing power, speed, size, and energy efficiency; advances in machine learning and management of vast real-time data streams; the proliferation of prototyping platforms easing.
IoT development; and the ubiquity of smartphones driving down the cost of technology have all created the opportunity to act on those decades of pent-up ideas.
That acting on these ideas is relatively easy shifts who can act. One doesn’t need a big lab with armies of engineers and mountains of money. Crowdfunding (like Kickstarter) has had a big effect on what is being developed and who is developing it. Numerous great ideas, and several not so great, are being pursued. A revolution is under way.Download the Article
Our surroundings and experiences influence the way we perceive the world: how we think and act, the choices we make, and our general sense of taste. This multitude of individual tendencies creates what sociologist Pierre Bourdieu calls “habitus,” a cumulative pattern of the everyday that unconsciously informs our judgment toward selections of likeness.
The personalization of the digital space lies parallel to our “habitus,” as algorithms filter and strive to serve us relevance. As Mark Zuckerberg stated, “A squirrel dying in front of your house might be more relevant for your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” The filtered content, much like the aforementioned disregarded options, remains invisible – a process that we cannot influence.
So how can we make our digital experiences more diverse? Dismissing filters per se is not the solution; without them, we would be overburdened by abundance and too much choice would paralyze us. That’s where serendipity comes into play. Serendipity is important for diversifying tastes and (commercially speaking) driving users.
And there are numerous ways of doing this.Download the Article
There has never been a better time to be a data analyst. There has never been more data. There has never been more boardroom attention. There has never been more human interest in both our own data and that of other people.
So, for all the talk of geeks inheriting the earth and Harvard Business School proclaiming data science to be the sexiest job on the planet, why is it that little physical evidence exists of brands mastering the application of data analysis to their business practices? Even Tesco, perhaps the brand most synonymous with data analytics, has not been immune to market forces driving down both its market share and stock price over the past five years.
Creating competitive advantage through analytics is difficult both to achieve and sustain. Leadership is a critical issue. The person accountable for analytics within an organization often does not hold a decision-empowered position or is not connected enough to make an impact on business strategy. A second issue is one of adoption. Having the correct strategy and gaining broad-based adoption of it are two separate issues. A third issue is one of transformation. Few companies can communicate the process of how they turn data into information, information into insight, and insight into action.Download the Article
These days, nearly everyone touts the importance of “innovation,” yet most companies struggle with how to replicate it regularly. And the rise of the interconnected and increasingly digitized world has raised even more questions about innovation and agility – questions about how new technologies might be rewriting the rules.
Clients frequently ask us how to produce meaningful innovation in their businesses. Amidst tremendous choice and change, the questions remain: “What is innovation? And how can we use it to deliver results?”
Put simply, innovation is the process of creating value for people through new or improved products or services. And while companies do innovate regularly, many still struggle with the everyday obstacles of using innovation effectively. An understanding of how to support constant innovation systemically through internal processes, culture, methods, and tools is required. This, along with the incorporation of different approaches, can lead many firms to creating stronger value through innovation.Download the Article
By Kim Douglas
What do Robin Williams, the World Cup, and Ebola all have in common? They were Google’s three most searched terms in 2014. And not a single for-profit brand found itself in the top ten because of its marketing campaigns. Wondering why? Well, it might surprise some marketers to discover that consumers are not likely to go to the Internet for advertising.
Brands and agencies that are committed to finding ways to enter their consumers’ always-on worlds have a special sort of bravery. They see in new technologies and media a call to step away from the familiarity of “trusted” messaging and media strategies, and to start experimenting with new, non-traditional marketing initiatives that thrive in the digital environment. Responding to that challenge means that they must welcome digital’s unique integration-into-real-life opportunities versus simply repurposing existing assets from traditional channels.Download the Article
By Darren "DAZ" McColl
Launched in 2014’s bestselling book Storyscaping, our strategic approach has continued to fuel powerful thinking about brands and experiences at the intersection of story and technology. Our Storyscaping approach is a way of looking at the world that we have refined into a powerful model for working with brands, people, and technology. Storyscaping’s principles guide how we create worlds, and we have had the opportunity to create some great ones in a huge range of sectors this past year. Born from our unique expertise in technology and storytelling, we are excited by the results that it has helped us, and our clients, achieve.
The Storyscaping approach’s two key components are the “Organizing Idea” and “Story Systems.” Inspired by the Organizing Idea (described on the next page), this approach transforms a great storyline into an immersive Story System, where people enjoy connecting with and participating in brand stories. It teaches us to delve deeper to understand consumers and, with that knowledge, craft opportunities for them to invite brands, products, and services into their worlds – thus creating Shared Stories and building brand loyalty.Download The Article
By Sheldon Montiero, Hilding Anderson & Scott Tang
It’s yesterday’s news that marketing and technology have become inextricably intertwined. Tectonic forces, enabled by technology, have fueled more disruption and competition for customer attention in the last five years than corporations experienced in the fifty years prior.
Despite the excitement around marketing technology and the CMT role, the ambiguity as to who these individuals are, the skills they possess, and where they sit organizationally has led to considerable confusion. To help us shed more light on these issues, SapientNitro partnered with Scott Brinker, the host of the MarTech conference and popular chiefmartec.com blog to conduct a first-of-its-kind study of marketing technologists’ skills, career paths, attitudes, and behaviors.Download the Article
By Evelina Lye, Padmini Pandya & Sue Su
Women are fast becoming one of the largest economic forces in the world. It’s estimated that women control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending, a figure that could climb to $28 trillion by 2020.¹
Within this group, there is a growing percentage of highly influential, digitally empowered women shaping trends for online behavior. We call them “Wired Women.” And nowhere are these women more digitally savvy than in China, where a staggering 15 percent said they would rather give up seeing their families for a month than their mobile phones.²
With so much spending power, how can brands access China’s Wired Women? To start, we’ve identified three of their key consumer behaviors: Self-Education, Demonstration, and Management.
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There is an urgency and momentum building behind ‘digital business transformation’, as organisations
reimagine, reshape and retool for an era in which traditional boundaries are being broken. The
accelerated progression of technology and its rapid uptake by consumers has pushed the topic of digital
business transformation to the top of the agenda in boardrooms globally. The opportunity, or existential
threat, that these seismic changes represent are focusing the minds of business leaders on the future
of their organisations and industries as never before.
You may have heard people say “content is king.” You may have also heard that content strategy is the tool used to unlock the true potential of content. But if content is “king,” how do organizations validate the worth of their content and improve upon this valuable asset?
Return on investment (ROI) for content strategy is a hot topic. But let us push that conversation even further. How do we leverage metrics and analytics for content development? How do we make content work for us?
Whether you are an analytics or metrics expert, a content strategist or a content creator, you will be able to start to derive a formula for successful content by the end of this paper. You will have a greater understanding of the appropriate metrics, analytics and KPIs necessary to make content intelligent. You will know which metrics will measure content efficiency, and how to reﬁne personalized content, develop useful metadata and taxonomy, measure what is important for publishing and content lifecycle, ensure eﬀective content governance, capture mobile-speciﬁc information and avoid pitfalls.Read More
Large retailers have unique challenges that come from the size of their catalog, the volume of sales transactions, the large number of shoppers and their dispersed geographical locations.
Large retailers need to solve unique problems resulting from their size — how to integrate the enormous amount of content they publish with an ecommerce platform that is optimized for very high transaction volume, speciﬁcally.
We'll cover both the complexity of content management within retail and the technology challenge of content management for both a multi-channel business environment and a highly scalable transactional platform.
We also discuss other architectural transformations related to the general business trends in retail. We explain how the retail industry is converging towards a consistent vision for content management and publishing across both digital and traditional channels, and look for innovative applications of content that span guest experiences both online and at the store.Read More