Are you wondering what the next generation of internet world devices and services will be for connected business solutions? We are always curious about future technology. The Financial Times has published the latest edition of its engaging The Connected Business report. The report focuses on opportunities in post-plastic mobile shopping, wearable tech and big data. It goes a long ways into giving a good glimpse of the future. Here is a synopsis of the key points for those interested in new trends impacting connected business solutions.
Insights on shoppers
Ever since Tesco, the UK supermarket group, developed its Clubcard customer loyalty scheme in the mid-1990s, retailers have amassed huge amounts of data about shoppers – where they shopped, what was in their basket and how much they spent.
This data provides insights into shopping habits and allows retailers to drive impulse-purchase through targeted promotions, such as money-off coupons, at customers who actually want them.
Shopper data also allows retailers to predict demand to manage inventory – Amazon is taking this one step further, by planning to send packages to shoppers before they have ordered them. It will use predictive demand analytics and has filed a patent for the system in the US. The online retailer will use its customer database to predict which geographical areas it thinks will order certain products. It will send them to a local warehouse before the orders are received. During transit it expects to receive a specific address.
Another opportunity for retailers is to use profile, time, location, search and browsing history for dynamic pricing – offering different prices and offers to customers depending on who they are and their behavior up to the point and moment of sale.
Commerce goes post-plastic
Technology and telecoms groups are teaming up with banks to enable customers to pay for goods with their smartphones.
Highly fragmented market and an experiential mess for users. The new priority is integration.
A few success stories standout – the rollout of contactless payment pads, Vodafone’s M-Pesa mobile payments in Africa, and Square in the US (and iZettle)
Groups such as Google, Amazon and PayPal already offer payment schemes online, and are now making a push into the real world with services such as Google’s Wallet. Apple is predicted to join the fray. Facebook is a disaster and needs to get its act together
Ultimately operators, banks or brands need to make mobile payments easier and safer. Ultimately they will need to offer incentives such as loyalty rewards, to persuade consumers to change their habits.
Shoppers and tablet shopping
Retailers need to get their apps right – to benefit from a multichannel world.
Shop Direct (Very.co.uk) says that from next year all its transactions will involve a mobile device – with customers either researching an item or making the entire purchase on the device.
Mobile users overtook those using PCs in China in 2012 – and that gap is growing.
Slow loading apps and clunky interface kill sales
The future of home e-commerce sales is the tablet (smartphone in store)
Tablets account for four-fifths of UK mobile sales (although mobile devices only account for 1/4 of e-commerce sales (but doubling every year).
The mobile wallet is the missing link holding back further growth.
Consumers increasingly want to, and expect to be able to, use their mobile when out shopping, and not just to purchase from competitors
The future of ecommerce could be in store. Shoppers are not only comparing price, but reading reviews and comparing warranties
The lines between offline and online are blurring
The news industry is teaching us about the different content demands of (mobile) digital audiences who increasingly use mobile devices. January was the first month when at least half the BBC website’s unique visitors came from tablets and mobile device.
Mobile news readers also want live news, so for the Sun’s mobile app, stories are ranked by time since publication, rather than by importance, so visitors to the app are constantly confronted by new information. Success is measured by how often readers return throughout the day.
Mobile news readers also want fast snappy news – so the Sun also tries to deliver bite-sized content, including videos that are just 20-seconds long. When everyone sets out to make a news video, they think three minutes, but, if you’re standing in a queue, you’re going to be at the front of the queue in 30 seconds.
Facebook has launched Paper, an app that packages stories from news outlets with social media posts. How each story is told is as important as the story itself
When on a mobile, the lines between traditional channels – e.g. newspapers or TV are blurred; news providers must adapt content to compete with a broader competitive set.
For advertisers that support content, the game is different also. The priority for advertisers is location. If advertisers can know when a consumer is near a shop or restaurant, they can send an offer relating to that outlet.
A new generation of wearable tech and other connected devices may change this again – CNN launched an app for Samsung’s Galaxy Gear Smartwatch in January, which displays up to 10 headlines and links via Bluetooth to a mobile phone.
Adapting content is more than responsive design; it is about optimizing the content itself.
Something’s stay the same – the big challenge is to recruit audiences – it’s difficult to get audiences to download apps, but when they do it is successful; news app users made up just one in 10 unique browsers to the BBC News mobile site in January, but accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the content viewed.
Connected business solutions …technology wearables
Accenture forecasts the wearable technology market, currently worth $1bn-$3bn a year, will rise to $18bn by 2018. WOW.
The market is in its infancy – enhancing existing early entrants such as wristbands (Fitbit and Nike) and watches (Samsung Galaxy Gear)
But just as mobile phones have changed out of all recognition so too will wearable tech. The best potential lies in using data about where people are and what they are doing, and keeping them digitally connected via the internet
The big road blocks for wearable technology to take off:
Wireless networks need to be faster and more reliable,
Batteries also need to improve. At present they are heavy, get hot and do not last long enough.
Aesthetics (as well as comfort, safety, and hygiene) need to improve – Google Glass users merit their Glasshole nickname
Privacy issues need to be resolved
But there is also a problem of identifying a real need for wearable tech. Companies will need to come up with fresh ideas.
The Mimo baby onesie from Boston-based Rest Devices, which has washable interwoven sensors that monitor a baby’s breathing, skin temperature, body position and activity level.
Intel has developed fitness earbuds that as well as playing music tracks heart rate and pulse. They can select tunes from your playlist that encourage running faster or slower.
Google of course, is inviting consumers in the US to experiment with its $1,500 Glass headset, which incorporates a tiny camera, microphone, display and internet access.
The best business opportunity for wearable tech will be in business, with tech that offers efficiency and effectiveness gains
Motorola Solutions has developed a jacket that incorporates sensors to provide “situational awareness”, for use by security staff and the police.
Motorola Solutions also produce a wearable computer for use in warehouses and distribution centers that helps companies streamline operations, reducing inventory and “shrinkage” in the supply chain. It responds to voice commands, leaving the user’s hands free, and has a barcode scanner worn as a ring that identifies items as they are being handled
Accenture and Philips, meanwhile, have collaborated on a Google Glass headset that lets surgeons monitor vital signs without having to turn away.
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Mike Schoultz is a digital marketing and customer service expert. With 48 years of business experience, he consults on and writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+, Facebook, Twitter, Digital Spark Marketing, and LinkedIn.
7 New Trends Impacting Connected Business Solutions