April 25, 2013

The Logistics of Information

We are witnessing the actual emergence of the third generation of IT systems: the ubiquitous computing blends into human behavior.

Ubiquitous computing refers to information everywhere, in everything, present in a quiet and non-intrusive fashion. Everyday objects are now able to share data. IT is surrounding us. Social technologies allow to measure and analyze our behaviors. Ubiquitous computing is no longer a distant fantasy, it’s an emerging reality.

This reality leads to brand new platforms. It can transform a shoe into a distance tracker. It can transform a standard house heating system into an energy consumption optimizer. It can transform a traditional loyalty program into a digital word-of-mouth.

Ubiquitous computing ushers in the emergence of new marketing techniques, which are no longer referred to as digital.

Gathering Data Intelligence…

Firstly, ubiquitous computing allows the capture of consumer activities, the propagation of social echo and the aggregation of those different pieces of information into a single platform. Marketing as a whole finds itself redefined, as this single platform integrates with various consumer touchpoints, such as social networks, websites and in-store interactions. The collected data sheds a new light on consumer segmentation and trends.

Marketing technologies therefore shape a new Information Map.

This leads to a mapping of social networks, knowledge fields, and content types, in order to picture our connected activities. Such complex information can hardly be understood without the help of various technologies. User clustering, affinity detection, real time opportunities, social graph computing are some components Brands need in their toolbox.

An Information Map should not appear as a dry concept, just because it aggregates large amounts of data. On the contrary, what is at stake is much deeper and richer. The point of an Information Map is to establish relations between all the individuals’ connected activities. A Connected Consumer Platform, through this Information Map and the technologies that exist to understand it, empowers an organization to make strategic decisions, based on the most detailed comprehension of consumer behaviors.

… Towards an in-depth knowledge of consumers

A Connected Consumer Platform strategy helps process a large volume of data around individuals’ activities, and strongly supports marketing efforts:

• by measuring a consumer’s engagement with the brand and its products;

• by assessing the level of social influence of an individual;

• by identifying a consumer’s affinity tastes;

• by establishing connections between people based on similar tastes;

• by measuring the viral impact of content.

The platform encourages social and viral behaviors. The most committed and influential individuals often become actual brand ambassadors, securing stronger ties with the general public.

Several issues must be considered before a Connected Consumer Platform strategy is successfully implemented.

The primary concern revolves around how to collect social data. Most of this data is controlled by corporations such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, not to mention intermediary services like Netflix or Spotify. They determine ever-evolving rules which brands often struggle to comply with. Access to consumer behavioral data is strategically important to brands. It helps them anticipate consumer needs and adapt marketing messages to each identified community.

Barriers to entry is a second, technology-centred issue. Most brands do not have the adequate in-house resources to understand the origin of datasets and the way they are processed. Those organizations therefore require technological know-how to make the most out of consumer data.

Those two issues actually merge into one major challenge: the overall logistics of information.

Gathering relevant data is the first step towards a virtuous circle involving brands and individual consumers. Brands need to foster solid relationships with the communities they identify, by offering unique, tailored user experiences.

Turning the concept of Connected Consumer Platform into a reality

Ubiquitous computing constitutes a challenge for brands, but mostly a land of greenfield opportunities. The key to creating those successful platforms lies in understanding that ubiquitous computing touches on various disciplines.

Once brands determine what kind of consumer data they want to capture, they need to figure out the logistics of getting it done. This requires the right mix of strategy, technological knowledge and design thinking.


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