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The Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends For 2019

 

Gartner has just released its insight for the ten key trends you can’t afford to ignore in the next year. These Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology trends are expected to impact and transform industries through 2023.
The core concepts presented are all about shift and change and disruption, as technology is becoming an inextricable part of our world.

Three themes dominated the speech:

  • Intelligence. Increasingly the engine that drives future capabilities. An intelligence-ai driven future;
  • second is digital, in an increasingly blended fashion;
  • then mesh, as the importance of ecosystems.

In 2019 we will look at these three things coming together in an increasingly integrated fashion.

1: Autonomous things
Whether it’s cars, robots or agriculture, autonomous things use AI to perform tasks traditionally done by humans. By 2021 10% of new vehicles will have autonomous driving capabilities.

2: Augmented analytics
Data scientists have increasing amounts of data to prepare and analyze. Organizations can miss key insights from hypotheses the data scientists can't explore. That’s why “By 2020, more than 40% of data science tasks will be automated.”

3: AI-driven development
Developers will embed AI into applications and use AI to create AI-powered tools for the development process.

4: Digital twins
A digital twin is a digital representation that mirrors a real-life object, process, or system. The focus today is on digital twins in the IoT, which can improve enterprise decision making by providing information on maintenance and reliability, Expect this to grow in 2019.

5: Empowered edge
Expect information processing and content collection and delivery placed closer to the sources of the information, with the idea that keeping traffic local will reduce latency. “Technology and thinking will shift to a point where the experience will connect people with hundreds of edge devices.”

6: Immersive technologies
Conversational platforms, which change how users interact with the world, and technologies such as augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR), which change how users perceive the world, will lead to new immersive experiences.

7: Blockchain
The blockchain is a type of distributed ledger, an expanding chronologically ordered list of signed, permanent transactional records shared by all participants in a network. Expect blockchain to take off in many industries in 2019.

8: Smart Spaces
Connected to the digital twins concept, a smart space is a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact forming an open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystem.

9: Digital ethics and privacy
Customers will have a growing awareness of the value of their personal information and will be increasingly concerned with how it’s being used

10: Quantum computing
Still not ready for prime time, quantum computing will evolve, as an exponentially scalable and highly parallel computing model.

Last but not least, seven digital disruptions you might not see coming in 2019, as they are infused in your day-to-day experience, and their expected impact:

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Topics: customer loyalty Digital Customer Experience customer engagement digital transformation Innovation

Gartner Symposium - Strategic Predictions For 2019 and Beyond

 

The future is filled with disruption. But pending disruptions are taking on new forms. This is the tipping point for Gartner's keynote about top strategic predictions for 2019 and beyond, live from Barcelona.

In essence, here is a selection for you of the most relevant insights from Gartner Symposium/ITxpo. 

  • AI evolves into augmented intelligence and is affecting human lives as the presence of technical skills is slowly increasing within organizations.
  • People-oriented cultures resist the dehumanization of the individual, and as a result, culture and privacy become more and more connected.
  • Processes become products, and markets consolidate as customers continue to adopt new technologies.
  • As a result, all organizations have explore AI steadily, and both develop and supplement AI skills with AI automation technologies provided by expert vendors in the different fields (i.e. digital customer experience.
  • Acting more and more with a systemic vision, organization have to learn how to introduce products based on internal processes and data by leveraging the cloud and ecosystems of digital giants.
Topics: Innovation digital transformation Digital Customer Experience

Digital Innovation In Retail - Towards An Empathic Customer Experience

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What will the future bring for leading brands in the retail and fashion industry?

With the rise of e-commerce giants like Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay, the retail scenario is rebuilt on a digital foundation, where competition is played on the ability to meet an entirely new set of behaviors, expectations, and priorities of today's shoppers.

On-demand services and instant gratification available at any time are giving customers an ever greater control over their purchase journey and increasing their power towards brands. Speed, ease, contextual and individual relevance have passed within a few years from being valuable nice-to-have to essential must-have.

However, few are really trying to bridge the gap between insight and action, and it's the case of leading companies that are using technology to innovate their customer experience with a human-centric approach, changing how they interact and engage with today's customers.

Timberland launched a context-aware email marketing campaign, shaping ads for different weatherproof products to match each user's position and weather conditions in real-time.

Since at least 2013, Amazon takes notice of our shopping behavior and tailors recommendations for every one of us. And as we continue browsing, the fitting personalization goes on.

Even customer support has become much smarter. On companies' websites and e-commerce, chatbots and virtual assistants use natural language processing to help customers effortlessly navigate questions, FAQs or troubleshooting.

In the offline world, we see stores and shop windows coming to life with digital signage interactive systems and 3D contents on augmented and virtual reality.  And even behind the scenes, store analytics is becoming a common practice that will soon have nothing on online analytics, helping retailers to better understand shoppers behavior and measure the impact of different areas in the store environment.

It is easy to see how all these applications have one thing in common: AI.

Artificial intelligence is disrupting the retail industry as it enables marketers to automate and bring on a large scale something that until a few years ago required effortful small-scale processes. That is tailor-made experiences, custom-designed for each individual.

But there is still something wrong with AI today. A missing piece to move from the now outdated customer-centric approach to a people-centric path, more consistent with the evolving needs and wants of today's shoppers. It is predicted to be the future of AI, that will progressively bridge the gap between the offline and the online world. That missing piece is empathy.

We have identified 10 key factors for an empathic customer experience. You can find them in the "Digital Innovation in Retail & Fashion" report, now free to download.

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Photo by Alejandro Alvarez on Unsplash

Topics: digital transformation Innovation Digital Customer Experience

Ethereum - How The Blockchain Is Leading The Way To The Future Of Business

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Blockchain is certainly one of the most hyped words of the last couple of years. Everybody is talking about blockchain - often confusing it with the Bitcoin - and how this technology may change our world, and the way we do business, in the next future.

Decentralization, transparency and ledger immutability are among the promises this disruptive technology intends to fulfill. At the same time blockchain technology is still in its early stages of development. This is the first in a series of articles dedicated to this fascinating - but in some respects still very obscure - topic.

Among many blockchain networks already live, Ethereum is surely one of the most interesting and promising. From a technological standpoint Ethereum has been praised also by the Chinese Government in a recent assessment of blockchain networks.

Ethereum is a decentralised virtual machine empowered with blockchain technology on which developers and companies will deploy smart contracts and has the potential to become one of the cornerstones of 2.0 web architecture.

One of the major obstacles faced when analysing blockchain networks is that in most cases there aren’t comprehensive reports that take into account all the primary/material aspects required to assess multidisciplinary architectures such as Ethereum (IT, financial and legal analysis among others).

Many different elements shall be taken into account (such as the ecosystem the relevant blockchain network intend to deploy, the composition of the development team and the use of the funds raised in the context of the ICO) in order to have a comprehensive and useful framework to understand such projects.

Furthermore, following the issue of the white paper, many projects rely on blog posts, webinars and interviews to inform their communities about the progress in the roadmap; gathering and reshaping the information in an easy-to-read document is certainly not an easy-to-do task.

If on the one side one of the most common buzzwords among the blockchain / cryptocurrency community is “DYOR” (do your own research) on the other side most of the potentially interested people and companies do not have the time, knowledge and/or resources to do their research on a myriad of projects. In fact, DYOR means to carry out your own due diligence for each project, and if due diligence is not your core business it is likely that this will take a lot of time and effort.

Black Swan DAR is issuing a series of professional reports on blockchain networks that focus on smart contract deployment (such as Ethereum). Due diligence is an investigation and analysis activity carried out by third party independent professionals to evaluate risks and opportunities underlying a transaction. 

All the reports are drafted under the same framework, in order to make comparative analysis easier and intuitive. The Ethereum report is divided in 10 different sections related to, inter alia, the ecosystem, the token and its function within the blockchain network, the team, the use of proceeds from the ICO, strategic partners, etc..

The first section of the report is an executive summary, in which the most significant issues and red flags arose out of the due diligence process are gathered. For example, with respect to Ethereum, Black Swan DAR notes that:

(i) Ethereum is an open source multi-layered project which purpose is to create a flexible and distributed platform for decentralized applications (so-called dApps) and smart contracts; the project is open source and is community-driven, with the Ethereum Foundation acting as the leader.

Ethereum combines a generalized peer-to-peer networking platform with a blockchain architecture to deliver a decentralized consensus-based, full-stack platform for developing, offering and using smart contracts and dApps. In order to achieve the flexibility required to deploy smart contracts of any kind Ethereum has a built-in fully fledged quasi-Turing-complete programming language;

(ii) the Ethereum framework includes several different components that, together, are the foundational layer for smart contracts deployment. Among the core components of the framework it is opportune to name, among others, the cryptographic tokens, the address system, the network of validators (miners), the consensus algorithm, the blockchain ledger and the Ethereum virtual machine;

(iii) as Ethereum is a general purpose, programmable, blockchain network, its reference market is the aggregate market for all blockchain applications, including dApps and smart contracts that may be developed over time;

(iv) scalability is perhaps the main issue related to blockchain projects, including Ethereum. The scalability issue was envisaged to be solved in 2017 with the implementation of the PoS (proof of stake) consensus algorithm. Unfortunately, the debate about whether to proceed with PoS and how to build the consensus algorithm is still open, and there is no clear solution planned for the road ahead.

Other sections of interest are surely the section related to the Ethereum ecosystem, in the context of which a thorough analysis of the project is carried out, the section related to the token, in which the function and value of ETH are explained, and the section related to the strategic partners of the projects, useful to understand which players are entering the playing field to support Ethereum.

It might be a breakthrough technology but it is safe to say that, today, the blockchain looks like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it and so claims to do it. These free reports can help you understand what the fuss is all about, and how you can do it safely and productively.

DOWNLOAD THE ETHEREUM REPORT

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Photo by Mike Kononov on Unsplash

Topics: digital transformation blockchain Innovation

Read These Essential Books And Start 2018 With Momentum

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What is the best way to jump start your new year's resolutions? Reading insightful and enlightening books, of course. In this whirlwind of social and technological disruptions, digital leaders must focus on the continuous improvement of themselves, if they aim at improving their strategy. 

We all know how important is to learn from the experiences of the others, and books can help you achieve a more profound and accurate vision of your environment, customers, and business. Here is our list - revamped for 2018 - of the essential books that will inspire you and the ones around you all year long.

We originally published this list at the end of 2015. Of course, a lot has happened in the last two years: the smartphone has definitely become our daily companion; new technologies have taken the center stage (i.e. the Internet of Things) and old one have gained a new bright light (virtual and augmented reality).

Ultimately, the social rules have evolved and people too. Many books have tackled the challenge of the digital disruption and its consequences on our life as human beings, customers, entrepreneurs. 

To be truly effective in understanding and engaging your digital customers, you need to be willing to learn. Learning is so important, in fact, that we have included it as one of the seven steps in the DCX 7-Steps Checklist, a step-by-step guide to deliver an amazing digital customer experience.

Know yourself, know your customers, know your context. Stay current; embrace the constant flow of digital innovations; enhance the user experience at every single touch point of the customer journey.

We corssed the threshold that separates the old world (with traditional business patterns and marketing funnel) and the new world (where empowered digital customers dictate the brand agenda).

Changes happen so fast that even the most successful brands - Apple, Google, Amazon - do not rest on their laurels. Digital business is a work in progress, by definition.

The next disruption may come from unexpected places: the Internet of Things, psychographics, machine learning and predictive analytics, proximity marketing, wearable technology, cloud computing, innovative social media, virtual and augmented reality.

None will ever grow by staying closed in his comfort zone. You must confront with the best-in-class, because the only way to see the future is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Here is our updated list of the essential readings you should not miss.

THE LIFE PROJECT, HELEN PEARSON

"The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story Of 70,000 Ordinary Lives", by science journalist Helen Pearson, narrates the longest-running study of human development in the world, started in 1946 and grown to encompass five generations of children. This is the tale of these studies and the remarkable discoveries that have come from them.

PRE-SUASION, ROBERT CIALDINI

Included in the list of the best business books of 2016, "Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way To Influence And Persuade" is the latest effort by social psychologist Robert Cialdini, author of the renowned "Influence". The book explains how to capitalize the "privileged moment for change" to deliver your message in the most effective way. To change minds but also states of mind. 

DISRUPTING DIGITAL BUSINESS, R “RAY” WANG

In the world where companies no longer control the conversation, they need to learn how to create an authentic experience for their customers. Digital leaders must shift from creating promises to keeping promises. In this era of social connections and constant connectivity, the experience becomes the main competitive differentiator, influencing the way brands plan and execute their strategy.  

DEEP THINKING, GARRY KASPAROV

We all know Garry Kasparov as the greatest chess player of all times. With his book, titled "Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends And Human Creativity Begins", he also proves himself to be a great explorer of the artificial intelligence. The story starts in 1997 with the chess match against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue, a watershed moment in the history of technology.

THE THANK YOU ECONOMY, GARY VAYNERCHUK

The entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk proclaims, with data-driven evidence, that we have entered into a new era for business. In this one, companies need to scale their communication to a one-to-one level, no matter how big they are and how much money they invest. The best way to do it is to harness the power from social media, used as a word-of-mouth and customer experience platform.

THE TELOMERE EFFECT, ELIZABETH BLACKBURN & ELISSA EPEL

Have you wondered why some sixty-year-olds look and feel like forty-year-olds and why some forty-year-olds look and feel like sixty-year-olds? Molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery of telomeres. In this book, with the help of her colleague Elissa Epel, she highlights how the changes we can make to our daily habits can protect our telomeres and increase our health spans.

THE STARBUCKS EXPERIENCE, JOSEPH MICHELLI

Why should I pay more for an average coffee? The secret behind the 'Starbucks formula' lies in the ability to turn the ordinary into extraordinary, focusing on the overall customer experience rather than the product. If you want to understand what loyalty means in the digital era, Starbucks is your landmark brand: personalized experiences, employee engagement, omni-channel customer journey.

THE NORDSTROM WAY, ROBERT SPECTOR

Nordstrom, a very well-known retail brand, is universally recognized as one of the best examples of customer service excellence. In fact, all other companies use it as a cornerstone, aiming at becoming the “Nordstrom of their industry”. What is the secret of this enduring - even in economic turmoil - success? The direct link between empowering your employees and creating a long-term relationship with your customers.

MASTERING LEADERSHIP, ROBERT J. ANDERSON & WILLIAM A. ADAMS

Is leadership a competitive advantage, or is it just costing you in terms of time, money and personal development? Today's escalating complexity puts leadership effectiveness at a premium. Mastering Leadership involves developing the effectiveness of leaders - individually and collectively - and turning that leadership into a competitive advantage. This book aims at offering "an integrated framework for breakthrough performance and extraordinary business results".

THE CUSTOMER MANIFESTO, PAMELA HERRMANN

Let’s start with two numbers: 80 percent of businesses believe they are providing superior customer experience, yet only 8 percent of their customers agree they provide it. The disconnect is due to the fact that amazing customer experience is not the result of a program, it is the effect of a human and personal connection, across all touch points. This is where successful entrepreneurs start, to grow their business.

THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE FIASCO, ANDREW REISE

To learn the foundations of an amazing experience for customers, you must learn not just the best practices and success stories, but also the misguided adventures. Using a fictional situation, the book - written by the experts of Andrew Reise Consulting - tells the story of how you can start from a fiasco (a YouTube video, in this case) to build a successful customer experience strategy.

OUTSIDE IN, HARLEY MANNING

This book is about the power of putting customers at the center of your business. Customer experience is the most powerful - and yet misunderstood - element of corporate strategy today. Your business value is not established just by the quality of the output (your product) but also by the quality of the connection between you and your customers (the experience). Identifying and solving the problems inside your organization has the potential to increase dramatically sales and decrease costs.

I LOVE YOU MORE THAN MY DOG, JEANNE BLISS

The theory is good, case studies are even better. This book is all about true stories that can teach you how to improve your strategy. In the end, you will understand the difference between having customers who like you and customers who love you (truly, madly, deeply). Loyal and engaged customers are the key, and the author has studied tons of companies to identify the five decisions that drive extreme customer loyalty, in good times and bad.

INBOUND MARKETING, BRIAN HALLIGAN & DHARMESH SHAH

Inbound marketing is a new paradigm in the relationship with customers, a methodology that replaces interruption with communication and value creation. This book, written by the two founders of the automation platform Hubspot, gives you all introductory hints to change your content strategy and ultimately attract, convert, close and delight. Transforming your customers from complete strangers to loyal promoters.

TO SELL IS HUMAN, DANIEL PINK

If you need a fresh look at the art of selling in the age of digital disruption, this book will offer a new perspective, based on the idea that we are all salespeople. Among all other things, the author describes the six successors to the elevator pitch, the three rules for understanding another's perspective, and the five frames that can make your message clearer and more persuasive. Because, in sales, numbers matter.

Of course, there are lots of great readings we did non include in this brief list. Please, use the comments to suggest your personal favorites.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Innovation Branding Storytelling Inbound Marketing Mobile

AWS re:Invent 2017 - Tales From The Future Of Cloud

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In the weeks leading to the AWS re:Invent 2017, we have seen many speculations about the nature of the announcements that Amazon would do during its annual event. The first few days have maintained, if not exceeded, the expectations.

There is a constant element behind all the news emerging about Amazon's Cloud: a significant shift towards the 'applications' side of the technology. Follow us as we unveil the future of Amazon Web Services and the entire Cloud world.

The general trend sees Amazon more and more focused on providing companies with technologies that increase the engagement and improve the customer experience. From this point of view, we could even dare to say that AWS is becoming more ‘customer-centric’.

This broader trend translates into a specific attention to the technologies that affect the customer behaviors online and offline (and are affected by them in return). It is easy to see that video content and AR, VR, and mixed reality have taken the center stage in the last couple of years.

Many companies are trying to take advantage of the potential of these immersive technologies, which so far have proved to be too complex and expensive for general use. The great players - Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and now Amazon - are trying to close this gap, providing affordable tools (in terms of costs and complexity) available for a broader audience.

AWS Elemental MediaConvert is the way Amazon wants to capitalize on the obsession that both customers and Brands have for video contents. The new suite, formed largely on the back of the acquisition of Elemental Technologies in 2015, is a file-based video transcoding service with broadcast-grade features:

It allows you to easily create video-on-demand (VOD) content for broadcast and multiscreen delivery at scale. The service combines advanced video and audio capabilities with a simple web services interface and pay-as-you-go pricing. With AWS Elemental MediaConvert, you can focus on delivering compelling media experiences without having to worry about the complexity of building and operating your own video processing infrastructure.

While we do not have more than the announcement right now - even though Elemental has been around for a while - there is a major strength in the proposition: the ability to create high-quality, end-to-end video processing workflows in the cloud without upfront investment for video processing infrastructure (you pay based on the duration of video that is processed and the features you use).

If you read the description carefully, you will see how Amazon is now “into competition to some extent with the likes of Google’s YouTube and its efforts to work with media companies and other creators to build and host live streams and ad-based videos. Interesting timing, given all the negative press YouTube has had over the kind of content that it’s been hosting over the years.” (TechCrunch)

The second product launched at the AWS re:Invent 2017 - this one entirely new - is called Amazon Sumerian and is, in some extent, a straightforward response to the announcements made by Mark Zuckerberg during the last Facebook’s F8 event. The topic is, of course, virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality.

Amazon Sumerian lets you create highly immersive and interactive scenes on VR, AR, and 3D applications without requiring any specialized programming or 3D graphics expertise. The scenes can then run on different hardware - Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and iOS mobile devices, while the support for Android ARCore will come soon. All this starting from the libraries of pre-built objects that make the creation effortless and less expensive.

If you look at the bigger picture, it is easy to understand where Amazon is heading: In a world where the new wave of technology has a lot of time-consuming processes behind it, Amazon aims at becoming the one who can modernize and simplify that — thereby becoming the default platform for creating applications on that new tech. Elemental and Sumerian score two points. And now the ball goes to the opponents.

For a deeper coverage live from the AWS re:Invent, you can also follow Luca Bianchi, CTO of Neosperience, on Medium.

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

Topics: aws developers development customer engagement Innovation

Strategic Predictions For 2018 and Beyond From Gartner Symposium


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The future is filled with disruption. But pending disruptions are taking on new forms. This is the tipping point for Gartner's keynote about top strategic predictions for 2018 and beyond, live from Orlando.

Here is a selection for you of the most relevant insights from Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, where the world’s top digital professionals gain a strategic view of the emerging trends shaping technology and business. 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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Topics: Digital Customer Experience customer engagement Innovation

Take These 5 Steps And Reinvent Your Customer Journey Map

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The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

With the wisdom of this Chinese saying, let's start 'our journey' to discover how the 'customer journey' has changed in the last five years, pushed by the evolution of mobile technology, and what this means for your Brand.  

The rise of the born-digital generations of customers (Millennials and post-Millennials) makes your traditional customer journey map obsolete. Every single map that you have used in the last decades is now useless. How can you recover?

In the digital ecosystem, everything changes at such an impressive pace that you risk losing sight if you do not get a new compass, a unique perspective to engage and monetize customers. The disruption brought in by the smartphone is unprecedented and requires drastic measures.

First things first, we need to clarify the difference between traditional customer journeys and the digital customer journey. We can simplify and streamline the two processes:

Traditional Customer Journey

Think of it as a (mostly) linear sequence going from the Awareness to the Consideration and then Purchase:

  • This funnel unravels across few touch points, well-known and presided by marketers;
  • The customer has a limited set of alternatives;
  • The communication is usually top-down and lead by the Brand;
  • Customer's choices are influenced by the 4 Ps of marketing, by routine and the trusted opinions of my closed circle of friends and relatives.

Digital Customer Journey

A neverending journey, not necessarily starting from the Attention/Awareness or ending with the Loyalty:

  • This funnel unravels across an increasing number of touch points, both in physical and digital worlds.
  • The customer has tons of alternatives;
  • The communication is always two-way;
  • Customer's choices are rarely influenced by advertising, price or routine. The circle of trust includes the online communities: social networks, e-commerce reviews, forums and blogs.

The evolution of technology reshapes the essence of the journey and this, in return, defines the pillars of your marketing strategy. In our ecosystem you should never underestimate:  

  1. The arise of young customers - the picky millennials and the elusive GenerationZ.
  2. The growth of connected technologies - trackers, wearables, beacons, the Internet of Things.
  3. The dawn of Micro Moments - real-time mobile interactions, driven by specific intents.

The digital customers are accustomed to living surrounded by connected devices that melt the offline and online worlds. They build their identity by interacting with their virtual and pshysical communities, and do not recognize any other way of experiencing (life, emotions, and relationships).

In our markets, made flat by the globalization, your customers refuse to be considered as part of an indistinct mass. Each customer wants to be treated as an individual. This rejection of the massification requires that you invest your marketing efforts on the personalization and relevance of contents and experiences.

Today, there is a question to answer: Why should people buy from you when they can choose from a potentially infinite set of alternatives? You are not simply battling against your neighbors; you are fighting against thousands of suppliers from all over the world. Even a great, unique product might be not enough to win.  

What then? The customer experience becomes the real key to differentiate your Brand, and the creation of a new customer journey map the ground to deliver personalized experiences. You need an innovative approach to the mapping of an unstructured journey, or your clients will still be strangers, inanimate figures you do not know anything about.

Luckily, you can still rely on a few basic requirements that have not changed ever since the idea of ‘customer journey map’ was considered for the first time. While the contents and the framework evolves with technology, you will always have to start your planning from these foundational elements:

Buyer Personas + Customers + Emotions + Research + Touch Points + Objectives + Measurement

On the one hand, marketers need to reach the customers when they stand in the early stages of the journey; unfortunately, that is the most obscure moment. The Brands usually know very little about customers' emotional profiles, and the traditional research methodologies does not provide useful data that show what clients were doing and thinking before - let's say - they entered your website or store.

That is exactly why you need a revamped version of the journey mapping. Starting with the following prerequisites.

RETHINK THE JOURNEY

Of course, behind a new mapping there is a new journey. Every single social and technological trend leads to the inevitable reinvention of the customer journey. There is no value in a map that ignores the different sources of interaction brought out by the mobile disruption.

The innovation extends the relationship between companies and people, to embrace the added value for both Brands and customers. Stay eyes wide open and willing to test and learn new means of engagement and fidelization; only then you will earn customer's loyalty and trust.

ENGAGE THE CUSTOMER

The foundational element of the journey is the traveller, of course. And yet, you might be surprised to know how many marketers still design their journey map starting from the company and the products instead of the customers.

Since the whole point here is to improve the relationship between your clients and your business, the only way you can build a map that actually works is to bring the customer's perspective into the process. Describe not the experience that you want to provide (or you think you are providing) but the experience that people expect (and you are actually providing).

UNVEIL THE EMOTIONS

The key is to understand how people take decisions and choose what to buy and how to buy. In a world where the smartphone has become the first screen and the attention span is lower than ever, not all customers are alike, and not all journeys should be considered equal.

People embark on very different journeys, driven by peculiar behaviors and personality traits. Each journey has different touch points that can be influenced by unexpected causes and intents. Individual needs, emotions and expectations lead to very personal behaviors. If you do not study these patterns (i.e. Psychographic profiling), you will not be able to reach the contextualization required to appeal each person. 

CONNECT THE DOTS

Mobile technology reshapes the journey, influencing both the space and time of the interaction. The smartphone reboots the entire experience of communicating, searching for information, and connecting with people and brands. According to Nielsen, half of customers believe that mobile is the most important resource in the purchase decision-making.

Mobile platforms already account for more than 60% of total time spent on digital media. Your strategy should think mobile and act local, combining location and behavior to deliver meaningful contents, wherever your customers are. Connect the dots to get a holistic view of the ecosystem.

UNLOCK THE (SMALL) DATA

While it is still hard to understand what customers think and do in the early stages of their journey, companies can now take advantage of something they did not have before. Something that shuffles the cards on the table: small data.

Connected technologies create a large quantity of information about the customer's path; you only have to find the way to unlock the power hidden into this information. The key is to match the different sources and step from Big to Small data. Always remember that the real value not the information itself but what you do with this knowledge.

"Activating customer journeys to capture value requires journeys to be treated like products that need to be actively managed, measured, and nurtured. How well companies are able to do that will dictate how successful they are in making customer journeys a competitive advantage." (McKinsey)

Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty 

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy with the latest trends and advancements of digital customer experience.

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Innovation Project Management Branding Big Data Mobile Customer Journey

5 Books Every Digital Marketer Should Read This Summer

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Once you stop learning, you start dying.” This famous quote by Albert Einstein is still relevant to understand a major truth of the digital era: the only thing that is constant is change, and so you should never stop learning if you want to stay relevant.  

Of course, this applies both to companies and individuals. Inspiration is all around us and it will empower you to gain competitive advantage, if you can get out of the comfort zone. What better way to improve than by reading a smart book?

The American political journalist P.J. O’Rourke once said that you should “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” What’s not to love about this sentence? Learning is such a critical process that we have chosen it as one of the steps in The DCX 7-Steps Checklist, a guide that’ll help you build an amazing customer experience.

The problem with reading, today, is that we are all caught in a fast-paced world with a short attention span. Too many things happen around us, so many sources to check and so little time to do it. We are quite lucky, though, because someone else has done the hard work for us. Authors that have tackled the challenge to help digital leaders to keep up with the evolution of marketing and technology.

The more provoking is the book you read, the more you will be forced out of your comfort zone. Once you question your beliefs and layered knowledge, then you are ready to move forward. It is not just theory: In the era of the digital transformation you can’t hack your growth if you still rely on the old-fashioned way to do things.

You need innovative approaches to old questions. How can I grow my business? How can I overcome the challenges of the digital transformation? How can I engage and monetize my digital customers? How can I convert random customers into loyal brand advocates?

If you are looking for an answer to these - and many more - business problems, you might find useful insights through the pages of these five books every digital marketer should read.

EVERYBODY LIES, BY SETH STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ

Part technology research part psychological study, this book offers an illuminating look at what the Internet can tell us about who we really are. Everyday we create a vast amounts of information with our web searches, and all thiese data reveal truths about ourselves and our world that we did not even imagine. 

What percentage of white voters did not vote for Barack Obama because he is black? Do violent films affect the crime rate? How regularly do we lie about our sex lives? The answers to these - and many more - questions are hidden behind what we type on Google in the safety of our room. 

HARNESSING OUR DIGITAL FUTURE, BY ANDREW MCAFEE

Co-written with Erik Brynjolfsson, "Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future" is one of the most exciting books of 2017 so far. This is a must-read analysis of the effects of the digital disruption, a guide for the digital leaders, marketers and CEOs who truly want to understand the power of exponential. 

To survive the big wave of digital shifts, in fact, "we must rethink the integration of minds and machines, of products and platforms, and of the core and the crowd. In all three cases, the balance now favors the second element of the pair, with massive implications for how we run our companies and live our lives."

PRE-SUASION, BY ROBERT CIALDINI

Robert Cialdini is the renowned author of Influence, a bestseller dated 1984. At the end of 2016 we have finally seen the long-awaited sequel, titled Pre-Suasion. This book is destined to become even more relevant than Influence because it comes out in a era when marketing and psychology are more intertwined than ever. 

What separates effective communicators from truly successful persuaders? Using a rigorous scientific approach, Cialdini "shines a light on effective persuasion and reveals that the secret doesn’t lie in the message itself, but in the key moment before that message is delivered."

HOOKED, BY NIR EYAL

We always emphasize the importance of a well planned, meaningful customer experience on the road to business success. But there is a plain fact that none can ignore: If people don't like the product you sell, your strategy is more than likely doomed. So, how can you develop and market a product or service that customers will love?

Nir Eyal tries to find an answer in his book "Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products". Want to be the next sensation? Try with the Hook Model, "a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior.

ORIGINALS, BY ADAM GRANT

"Originals - How Non-Conformists Move The World" is yet another brilliant take on how we can generate new ideas, improving the world in the process. Sharing powerful and surprising business stories, Adam Grant offers groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and improving the status quo.

The book "explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent."

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

If you need more food for thought during your Summer vacations, you can also download The Mobile Engagement Playbook, a collection of relevant insights that'll help you to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation and grow your business exponentially.

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Topics: Content Marketing Mobile Digital Customer Experience Innovation

Biometrics - The Future of Payments And Customer Experience?

Eye viewing digital information represented by circles and signs.jpeg

What if you could authenticate your payments with a scan of your finger or your iris? What if you could take a selfie to authorize a banking transaction? Would you do it? Set aside all fears, the future of payment authentication is strictly connected to our body.

Biometrics are already considered the most important technology to transform how we make purchases, online and offline. An advancement that will improve security, but also shape a completely different customer experience.

If you take a look at the news of the past months, you will see a pretty obvious red thread: today, the traditional passwords are not sure, if they ever were.

Yahoo has reported three attacks in less than one year, with million accounts hacked using a forged cookie to bypass the user password. The same has happened recently to millions of Xbox and PlayStation accounts.

If your account has been compromised, you not only feel exposed; you are also in danger of losing all your personal data. That usually means other passwords, banking accounts, all sorts of sensitive information.

Traditional passwords are faulty in so many ways. First, they are based on the assumption that people will act smart for his own safety, creating a complex string. The reality is, most of the times the passwords we choose are simply lame (who said birth date?).

Second, they are easy to steal or hack. At the end of the day, they are just a sequence of numbers, letters, and keyboard patterns. Of course, a longer sequence will make a better shield but, then, it becomes harder to remember.

Third, they are inconvenient and somehow awkward. When you have to authorize a payment you do not want to waste your time typing a password made of more than twenty characters and containing upper cases and special symbols. This is customer experience at its worst. 

So, with their illegal behaviors, the hackers have fulfilled a role of public utility: they have shown to the world that we need other means of authentication. Especially when it comes to making a payment. That is why biometrics has become so popular in the last few years.

Philip K. Dick, one of the greatest readers of the future in Science Fiction, in the Mid Sixties wrote a story about a world where all activities would be managed by scanning one’s fingers or iris. You had to guarantee your actions with your own body.

At one point, the main character was not able to exit his apartment, because he had months of unpaid rent, and every single door scanning resulted in a failed attempt. In his dystopian perspective, the author had foreseen what is happening right now with biometric authentication.

Biometric verification is any means by which a person can be uniquely identified by evaluating one or more distinguishing biological traits. Unique identifiers include fingerprints, hand geometry, earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns, voice waves, DNA, and signatures.” (TechTarget)

Fingerprinting is the oldest example of this type of authentication, and it is still today the most popular form of biometric. According to a 2016 research by Visa, two-thirds of customers want to use biometrics when making payments, because they think payments will be faster and easier.

Biometric identification and verification has created a great deal of excitement in the payments space because it offers an opportunity to streamline and improve the customer experience. Our research shows that biometrics is increasingly recognized as a trusted form of authentication as people become more familiar with using these capabilities on their devices.” (Jonathan Vaux, Executive Director of Innovation Partnerships at Visa Europe)

From the customer's point of view, today biometric measures have two major applications:

  • They can be utilized to log into the mobile app, adding an extra layer of security (i.e. banking apps that use voice authentication).
  • They can be utilized to authorize a single transaction, online via the app or in the physical retail store (i.e. Apple Pay and Android Pay that use fingerprints).

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We see a growing interest, and it is not by chance that Juniper Research has listed it as the most disruptive technology in Fintech for the upcoming years. Today, its success is due in large part to the proliferation of fingerprint readers in smartphones. In the future, though, other factors will get into the game.

One brilliant example comes from MasterCard Identity Check, a new mobile app to allow customers to authenticate and authorize a transaction taking a selfie. The ‘selfie pay’ enable app users to confirm a payment not only via finger scan but also via selfie recognition, showing their face to the smartphone camera.

To avoid any attempt to deceive the authentication process, the system requires the customers to blink, instead of just staring at the camera, to confirm that it is really their face.

We have long said that the passwords we use today are dangerous because they can be hacked and used against our will. What about biometric tech? One constant issue is that, unlike passwords, they cannot be changed. So, they have to be stored somewhere by the financial company to be used and reused without problems or delays.

This poses various questions about the privacy of the process and the security of the data. Regarding the first issue, let’s get back to Jonathan Vaux:

One of the challenges for biometrics is scenarios in which it is the only form of authentication. It could result in a false positive or false negative because, unlike a PIN which is entered either correctly or incorrectly, they are not a binary measurement but are based on the probability of a match. Biometrics work best when linked to other factors, such as the device, geolocation technologies or with an additional authentication method.

That is the reason why biometric payments mostly use a two-factor authentication, a security process in which the customer provides two authentication factors to verify their identity.

Three-quarters of customers see the two-step verification as the most secure means of payments available today. Customers, in fact, are not yet confident that a fully biometric process will be able to defend them against malicious attempts of hacking.

Then, there is the data security concern. Where is all this personal information going? Who is storing it? Are the data protected from hacking? Are there limits on the data usage?

The answers will decide the future of these technologies. Biometric factors are the most personal and sensitive. They can be used to streamline and improve the customer experience but they also lay open to abuse. It is our duty to avoid the worst ‘cyberpunk’ case scenario.

 

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Topics: Innovation Digital Customer Experience Payment Mobile