“There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain
Beyond the current disruption to bricks and mortar retail, the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Big Show demonstrated the growing power of data. Not just any data, but big, dark, and unstructured data. Sexy, right?
It gets even better. You see we are doing things now we’ve never had access to doing before because now we have the accumulation, as well as, the technology to analyze and use data to position consumer experience as more personal and engaging. We all want to be special, and now Big Data reminds us that we are.
“Enjoy your big data, but please use responsibly.” ~Tamara McCleary
Yes, it’s powerful. It’s Big. And as powerful as “Big Data” is, it comes packed with a message of caution. The use of data, privacy, security, et al. is of utmost concern and top-of-mind for all of us. (Or should be.) The conundrum perplexing brands currently is the dichotomy proposed by consumers between “I want you to know and understand me” and “stop looking you perv!” Consumers want a personalized experience, however, they don’t want to feel violated or invaded by the method used to achieve this level of personalization.
Truth or dare? Do you want to be reminded that all of your movements are being tracked on your smartphone? However, do you demand that brands treat you like a special customer through the use of data to personalize your experience?
“Big Data, Personalization, UX, Security: We The People Want Our Cake & Eat it Too.” ~Tamara McCleary
Flag on the play: being reminded that I left a digital trail from my weekend trip to Las Vegas with the girls. (Oh dear! Remember that New Year’s resolution to decrease intake of alcohol units?).
Touchdown: push notification to my phone alerting me that my favorite designers shoes are on sale, or notified because I live in the Denver metro area, Broncos apparel is on-sale as we head to Super Bowl 50!
(*Note to find out more about this phenomenon, watch my video Big Data: Crazy, Sexy or Creepy presentation from IBM Amplify, or my video presentation to Appboy LTR entitled, Futurecast Beyond Mobile, Data & UX: The RelationShift Revolution.)
“Channel Customer” and The Eyes Have It!
Of course you’re not surprised to hear that Omni-channel was all the buzz at the Big Show, but honestly you have to embrace Omi-channel if you hope to be where your customer is, so it’s essentially “Channel Customer.” If you’re not a marketer, the idea behind and beyond Omni-channel marketing is bringing a unified experience to consumers no matter where they shop for products and services. This means customer eyeballs online, on their phones or in-store.
“Marketing is the newest agility sport in the 21st century.” ~Tamara McCleary
Success is being flexible and adaptable, which makes it’s Job #1 for the marketer to create a personalized customer experience paired with portability across all marketing and sales channels. (a.k.a. Where are my customer’s eye balls right now?) Yes, it’s a moving target, and we have to be keen to move around various platforms. This is true for not only B2C customers but B2B transactions as well. The phenomenal growth of Big Data analytics and Cognitive Computing is making all of this possible.
One example I observed from IBM Commerce was the use of IBM Watson Analytics in an eCommerce application (IBM Commerce Insights) for Carhartt. The cognitive computing capabilities of Watson allow workwear retailer Carhartt to adjust their eCommerce offerings across all their channels in real-time based on sales, physical inventory and a variety of other factors. Instantaneously businesses can see trends, where even a few years ago, sales, special offers and more would have taken weeks to collect and analyze the data to put a new campaign into action.
An additional advantage of the growth in Cognitive Computing is the ability for companies to begin collecting and analyzing data which have never been looked at before. According to IBM, almost 80% of the world’s data is unstructured, which means it is not collected or analyzed in any real form. Whether it be conversations across social networks, images, or geospatial data, cognitive computing can now look across the internet and generate actionable analysis. If that doesn’t get you hot-n-heavy with mind-blowing potential and opportunity, just wait till we geek-out on this next piece! Oodles of companies have vast stores of so-called “dark” data. Dark is delicious. Dark is good. Dark can be chocolate or data. And this slice of dark happens to represent all of the data collected by companies which is never used in analytics or sales. Imagine all the data! Data that can be fed into the cognitive computing process! This is a mind-expansion trip that is completely legal.
What does this translate into for business? A future of instantaneously actionable opportunities and an understanding of customers of which we have never known or been privy to before. The future goes beyond customization, personalization, user experience (UX), and for that matter even price discrimination. For consumers, business transactions and marketing offers will become even more personalized and hyper-localized, and through focus on the user’s experience and preferences, the digital touch of the future will feel more personal.
(In the desire for full disclosure, I attended the NRF Big Show on behalf of IBM, one of my clients.)