In the world of Digital there are ridiculously endless possibilities now more than ever to create better digital engagement with our customers, our employees and anyone that comes across our brand. 2018 has a whole host of opportunities attached to it with digital ecosystems getting bigger and better. With that comes some level of complexity and considerations that need to be made in order to take advantage of these. At MakoLab we feel these opportunities sit in the following 5 areas:

 

  • New Realities
  • Smart assistants
  • Personalisation
  • Convergence
  • Context

This post will look at, on a high level, just exactly what considerations need to be made and how to take advantage of them.

 

New Realities

Augmented reality and virtual reality are fast becoming more accessible for consumers, and new entrants to the market such as Microsoft’s HoloLens are introducing mixed reality to the masses.

According to Statista, VR users are predicted to potentially reach a high of 171 million by the end of 2018. That means that engaging content is much more accessible to people and therefore we should be looking to leverage and maximise this area of growth.

Add to the fact it also really isn’t as difficult as previously thought – Apple and Google have released ARKit and ARCore respectively, whilst the likes of Vuforia and Unity have provided frameworks for developers to easily use and create on. This means that developers old and new can all freely develop for these platforms.

It’s worth while however noting that you shouldn’t use this as a gimmick. AR and VR are clearly here to stay, and we should make sure that what is produced serves real value and purpose. So start small and develop over time to what your users want, rather than pushing the limitations of the technology.

 

Smart Assistants

Google and Amazon have expanded their integrations and are in more devices than ever now. With Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri now being integrated in to the home, there has never been a better time to consider how to use these platforms.

The fact of the matter is that smart assistants can help run our day to day lives. From playing our favourite music when we wake up, to turning on the coffee machine in the kitchen during our morning shower, to giving us a daily news update – the uses are ever expanding in smart assistants.

CES 2018 saw all sorts of different smart devices that are starting to change the way we interact with our home and, as brands, we need to consider just exactly how we can leverage these. From the Smarter fridge cam being able to give you insight in to your fridge whilst you’re out of the home, to smart washing machines being able to better optimise your wash and save you money, brands should be given the opportunity to leverage this data and provide better services.

What is great is that creating smart assistant applications isn’t difficult. The development languages are all languages of old, so many developers can start today and create the first app in an instant, whilst third party services are providing frameworks for marketing departments to experiment themselves. Additionally, we’re seeing smart assistants being introduced in the workplace to remove tedious tasks such as documentation, checklists and meeting room updates.

However we aren’t quite there yet. The smart assistant feels a little gimmicky when someone can just use an application or, quite frankly, a conversation. In your considerations you should look at the larger processes that could be simplified – for example, getting your team member to access HR policies could be a great way to see how smart assistants will fit in to the work place.

 

Personalisation

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and better data will give us greater opportunities to create personalised experiences for our customers, employees and stakeholders alike.

Like coffee, our digital experience can be bespoke and tailor made to us. Static websites are no longer the norm because people are expecting relevant, beautiful content that speaks to them. However by doing so, your ability to improve and enhance ROI increases, whilst customer retention and sentiment also improves.

What’s more, service delivery starts to become meaningful through the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. For example, Google uses it’s knowledge of your internet history to target you with tailored ads, and when using Google Assistant on Android, it starts to learn about what you might speak about and enquire about, whilst also learning your accent and way of talking.

Customer service too becomes a key point to this. You can start to shift regular customer service processes to chat bots and use natural language processing to understand peoples requests whilst tailoring responses to them.

They being said, AI is in constant development and so shouldn’t be fully relied on. If you decide to go down the AI and ML route, be sure to choose wisely and do your research. Additionally, smart CMS choices like Sitecore will help you create personalisation through using digital asset management to tailor user journeys, and so these can be considered as a step in to personalisation.

 

Convergence

Data is the key to unlocking a lot of our business potential. Bringing all this together to create actionable opportunities is now easily accessible and possible, and provides a business with the ultimate and single view of the customer.

Unifying data is the holy grail, but it brings it’s own risks and challenges. GDPR is an obvious point that can be made here, but additionally when addressing how to tackle the unification of data and bringing together these sources, a business needs to understand the security implication of doing this.

Our data sources are often now enhanced by the availability of APIs. That means we can easily create services that bolt on to these third party sources and brings them in to one centralised platform. Add on to this a layer of business intelligence (through the likes of Microsoft Power BI) and we can start to create real time data dashboards that give us meaningful insights to work from.

But as we previously mentioned, GDPR is an inhibitor so be careful not to contravene rules in this case, whilst you should know what data and services you need to use rather than using all the third party services you can possibly find. When creating such a unique data repository remember to involve all stakeholders in the business to ensure that everyone is considered and that all the right data is available to the team.

 

Context

Digital services will start to become wiser, particularly within the context of the user and the usage of an application or device. This way we can start to deliver time-sensitive and relevant information that drives customer loyalty.

Relevance therefore is now a driver of loyalty and ultimately delivers a competitive advantage as an innovation unto itself. This way you start to develop trust and loyalty, without doing anything too outrageous for the end user.

Context comes in many formats. Location, for example, can be delivered on the macro and micro – micro in the case of beacons, NFC and RFID whilst the macro we can use GPS. But now with devices and services, we can also understand who these people are, what they like, who are their friends, where do they like to go, what do they like to do… Our possibilities are truly endless.

Don’t, however, act simply on this for marketing messages and sales opportunities. Make that data actionable from the insight it gives you, and allow that to become a key facilitator in the product and marketing life cycles.

 

Other opportunities

These aren’t the only opportunities available however. We feel there is opportunity to look at in the following areas:

 

Blockchain

With the rise of cryptocurrencies to the market, and the adoption of blockchain technologies by larger organisations, we’ll see a rise in Blockchain based applications and uses. Consumer use is low, but can only increase as R&D teams explore more opportunities.

 

Progressive web apps (PWA)

PWA introduces a best of breed approach by giving the user the ease of use of a browser, but the power of a native app. Best of all, the user doesn’t need to install the PWA, but can link directly to it from the home screen of their device.

 

Infrastructure

Cloud infrastructure has been a huge part of the last few years and is constantly developing. In order to get content to end-users quicker, we will look to optimise the stacks that we develop on – whilst taking advantage of new developments and platforms to improve delivery and reduce cost.

 

Open banking 

This new area is set to revolutionise the way we create financial services for our clients. For example, we can use APIs to create services that interact with the end-users bank to develop incredible products and services. For example, Yolt (backed by ING), allows people to integrate their entirety of financial services in to one place to have a single view of their financial situation.

If you want to know more about how we can help you in any of these areas and others, or would like a copy of our 2018 Digital Trends report, feel free to get in touch with the relevant office to you by heading on over to our contact page and get in touch with us today!

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