Digital Transformation Or Disruption?

Digital Transformation Or Disruption?

The past decade has been a decade of dynamic disruption where a number of technologies came forward and took the center stage. Several organizations also adopted new age mechanisms to kick start their transformative journey. In the last few years, digital transformation has become the core for almost all tech-based and some not too tech-savvy organizations as well. In this digital race, to stay ahead, they are incorporating numerous tricks and techniques not just to outdo their contemporaries but to surpass their traditional and uninteresting mode of business.

As we have entered into a new decade, industry along with industry experts have started predicting how digital transformation will cause disruption in 2020 and beyond. Here is the list of top digital transformation trends that are more likely to shine this year.

• Consumer Experience
Analytics: A Competitive Edge
AI at the Forefront of Digital Transformation
Growing Importance of Mergers and Acquisition Activities
Relevance of APIs in Business Performance

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Source: Smriti Srivastava

Disruption leading to O2O

Disruption leading to O2O

Today’s marketing teams have to be technologically literate, data savvy, and agile
Fast moving technology and changing business models have played a part in disrupting every industry from farming to pharma, but it’s easy to overlook their impact on marketing and communications. How has the profession evolved in the face of potential disruption?

We spoke to Barbara Bates, global CEO of international communications agency Hotwire, to find out.

After growing up in Silicon Valley, working as a television reporter, and then starting a technology PR agency from scratch, Bates is not your average marketer. For 25 years, she ran PR agency, Eastwick until it was acquired by Hotwire in 2016. Following the acquisition, Bates was asked to become the global CEO. Now, she runs the company’s operations across Australia, the US, Europe, and Asia.

“We used to talk about ourselves as a technology communications firm, working with tech companies, but now we work with all different types of companies… Every company wants to be a technology company, or leverage innovation to build value around their brand. That’s something we’re really good at.”

Automating marketing
Technology is oiling the wheels of marketing, and according to Bates, most marketers now recognise that disruptive technology will help rather than replace them.

“We’re at a point where people are trying to be smart about leveraging technology that will either automate, or make more efficient, some of the more commoditised parts of our business around data like gathering research and coverage tracking,” she explains. “When it comes to AI, I think people assume that it means replacing humans. Most marketers with any experience realise it’s about augmenting what humans do. It’s a way of making communications more authentic, to automate and get data from AI.”

In many ways, digitalisation has aided in building trust. And, contrary to popular belief, the influx of technology has also catalysed a movement back to the human element.

“One of the observations I’ve made is that with digital transformation and technology, the pendulum swings very far in one direction. We sort of lost the human element, especially when it comes to marketing. I definitely see a big push back towards that. You see brands talking about being more human, and how better to engage. We’re seeing them do that by building an online and offline presence.”

As an example, Bates recalls a magazine pop up event in New York where, instead of handing out purely physical or digital copies, the brand asked authors to present their articles to live audiences. Connecting offline and online experiences in this way has become a valuable tool for building genuine relationships with clients.

Shifting the operating model
Marketing teams have also been affected by changing business models. One particularly important shift has been the abandonment of the agency of record (AOR) model, in which businesses rely on a single agency to handle all of their projects, PR, and marketing needs.

“Over the last five years, the big global AOR model has started to fall away,” says Bates. “Brands now purposefully want to work with a variety of agencies. Adobe, for example, works with three different communications firms that might bring different skill sets and creativity. It also means that companies are not locked into one agency and can offer project opportunities to different agencies to see different types of work.”

The willingness of big businesses to dish out project work is one of the reasons for Hotwire’s notable organic growth. Diverse competition helps smaller firms to make a bigger impact, which threatens the multinational agencies used to one-on-one contracts. Projects such as customer events, rebrands, or training programmes aren’t part of Hotwire’s regular work, but they do present an opportunity. Applying a flexible, nimble, mindset to projects enables Hotwire to work with renowned companies, and compete in a more varied market.

New challenges
Bates explains, the complexity of the job today…

“To be a marketer today, you have to be really well versed in finance, data, technology, and a wide variety of disciplines. Just look at what percentage of global buying technology budget is now decided by the CMO verses the CIO or CTO. CMOs have bigger budgets than ever before. That’s one of the challenges, not just for marketers, but for agencies. You have to learn new skills as you move up in your career, and even if you’re staying at the same level, the disciplines and skill set required is expanding incredibly.”

On top of the difficult task of creating compelling, meaningful narratives, digitalisation has brought a host of new challenges. For Bates, a major problem for CMOs is the onslaught of cyber crime.

“It is the CMO’s job to protect their company’s image. If there’s a data breach, or phishing – which is a huge issue – you have to deal with that. If you’re a retail bank, let’s say, and all of a sudden your customers are getting false emails from someone who’s phishing, that has a direct impact on the bank’s brand even though they’ve done nothing wrong. That’s why marketers care a lot about cybersecurity because, more and more, it’s easy to steal a brand.”

Cybersecurity also requires marketers to invest in more training and security, which takes time and costs money. Just as CMOs have a responsibility to support cybersecurity initiatives, they have to encourage clean data culture. Suffering a cyber breach is damaging enough, but actively failing to protect client data is entirely the fault of the brand. Another challenge is hiring and retaining the right talent.

“One of the things that I spend a lot of time on is building Hotwire into the best agency you’ll ever work with, and that’s not just for clients, but for employees too. What they want is really challenging creative work, and flexibility. Everyone appreciates flexibility, not just the millennials. If you’re a working mum with an hour and a half commute, then I’d much rather you spend that hour and a half doing great client work.”

Success is simple
Agencies and their employees have to contend with more data, more project work, and more competition than ever before. In the face of these demands, Bates’ key piece of advice to the marketing and communications team within any organisation is to simplify.

“There is so much noise and complication in communication and in every consumer buying decision. When you look at the companies who have really done well with their brands, they have a very simple message. I think this is a huge challenge for technology companies who still talk about lots of features and benefits.”

The first example that comes to Bates’ mind is Apple. However, she explains that a lot of the companies that have quickly gone from being little known to well known – think Deliveroo, Slack, and Uber – came up with a simple message that they told consumers over and over again.

“I know a lot of amazing companies with amazing products that just couldn’t launch because they couldn’t create their story in a way that was simple enough to capture people,” she says. “Make it simple, and learn the power of story, because that’s the way people connect.”

This message is part of Hotwire’s own brand, building the capacity to work collaboratively instead of competitively, and with flexibility rather than rigid rules, is what makes small to medium agencies stand out from the crowd.

“We’re trying to set ourselves apart by doing the best thing for the client,” says Bates. “It’s about being fluid. We’ve come from organic growth, for the most part, and Eastwick worked with a lot of startups, so we have a bit of a scrappy persona. Companies are more likely to work with mid sized agencies who have that global reach but are nimble.”

Source Laura Cox

Uber Yourself Or Get Kodaked.

Uber Yourself Or Get Kodaked…

Apple easy, Google fast: The experience management culture

Technology has taken centre stage in the success of companies today. With the likes of Uber, Amazon, and Deliveroo changing the way we live, shop, work and consume content, innovation is happening faster than ever before. In light of economic uncertainty, it’s become even more vital for businesses to deploy cutting-edge technology to maintain competitiveness.

Over the course of the next year, board-level conversations will be dominated by ways to ensure a seamless customer experience, formulating tactics to embrace disruptive technologies, as well as grappling with the implications of the future workplace. 

Digital disruption is affecting nearly all businesses:
Consumers can now order a meal, book a taxi and do their shopping with a few clicks of a button, without even leaving their living rooms. As a result, customers are increasingly expecting services to be ‘Apple Easy’ and ‘Google Fast’ in all aspects of their lives, demanding quick and seamless experiences across the board.

Customer experience management will continue to be a driver of success across all sectors in 2020. For many organizations, this means going back to the drawing board and incorporating customer-centricity at the core of their business models. As digitally native brands take a data-driven approach to provide frictionless experiences, customers will no longer tolerate dated technology with legacy systems and antiquated processes.

In the retail sector for instance, roughly 93 percent of UK internet users are expected to do online shopping by 2021, the highest online shopping penetration rate in Europe. However, as the e-commerce market becomes increasingly saturated, and the high street continues to decline, customer experience will be the central factor to help incumbent brands cut through the noise in the market.

Experience management extends beyond the end user to include other important stakeholders such as suppliers, partners and employees. Over the next 12 months, companies will increasingly need to acknowledge the need for a close link between good employee experience and exceptional customer service.

Engaging and retaining employees requires a big shift in company culture. A data scientist might choose to work in Silicon Valley not just for the financial benefits but for the culture of innovation it fosters and the opportunities to grow.

This results in companies such as Facebook and Uber – already excelling at customer experience – attracting the best talent. To avoid this brain drain, companies must look to emulate this culture and provide similar opportunities on this side of the pond, creating a superior experience for their employees.
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Source:  Marcell Vollmer

How AI is Disrupting Google Search?

How AI is Disrupting Google Search?

 A good view from Eric Enge on how Google is improving its search result quality with Rankbrain – its newish AI powerered algorithm.

However, and it’s a big however, 50% of new millennials don’t use search at all – they are simply told stuff by other people – combined with AI assistants like SIRI and Google NOW being pre-emptive. . . search may actually be decreasing. . .

From Fast company: “A new study offers a peek behind the scenes at how Google structures its search results. The study focuses on how Google’s RankBrain algorithm, which was first announced in October 2015, parses the English language. It’s one of the most detailed efforts to understand the algorithm to date.

“Google improved in about 55% of the queries that they didn’t understand back in July of 2015,” study author Eric Enge told Fast Company. “Honestly, I think that’s pretty amazing.”

Enge, who works for marketing consulting firm Stone Temple, focused on how RankBrain works compared to other Google machine learning products. He then made inferences on RankBrain’s behavior and results, which is something Google has not extensively discussed publicly.

In order to conduct the study, Stone Temple compared a sample set of 1.4 million pre-RankBrain queries to Google’s current search engine. They then analyzed a small remnant of search queries from the older set for which Google didn’t provide appropriate results.

After the launch of RankBrain, 54.6% of search queries that previously returned irrelevant results began returning appropriate results.

Some of these hard-to-resolve searches included queries like “What is low in the army” (Where the searcher is believed to have been searching for “what is low rank in the army”) and “Why are PDFs so weak” (Which, in the older version, first showed PDFs with the word “weak” rather than results about the security of PDF files). Stone Temple also saw what appear to be improvements surrounding specific phrases like “What is,” “Who is,” and “Where is.”

“We also found certain specific classes of phrases they handle better,” Enge said. These certain misspellings, such as when users misspell “Qatar” (the country) as “Cutter.”

One of the things Enge emphasized in the report is that he believes RankBrain has a negligible effect on SEO. He writes that it “simply (does) a better job of matching user queries with your web pages, so you’d arguably be less dependent on having all the words from the user query on your page.” The biggest changes from RankBrain, he added, have to do with increasing search quality and creating a likely framework for Google to apply further machine learning improvements to its search engine”

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Source John Straw

Auto Industry Disruption And Digital Marketing

Auto Industry Disruption And Digital Marketing

There are structural changes and disruption that the auto industry is going through not only in India, but globally and eventually this will impact the turns marketing will take, and also enter some new lanes marketing has not ventured into earlier.
There are three tectonic forces hitting the auto industry simultaneously, and even one of them would be powerful enough to disrupt the entire industry. This powerful trifecta of forces is fleets represented by app-based Cabs -on-demand like Uber/Ola, electric vehicles EV replacing IC engines, and finally, autonomous or driverless cars. A lot is written and said about the first two – the shared economy phenomenon, and the advent of electric. Not much attention, however, is paid to the third major disruption – driverless or autonomous cars. Most of us tend to believe that this is something that will never happen in India or will take a huge amount of time.

Autonomous cars will become a new marketing medium. In some sense, the car will become the new living room, with the lounging space and a host of entertainment options, and multimedia screens dotting every available surface inside the car. This will give a range of cross-channel opportunities for digital marketers,that could combine the offline and online mediums. There could be seamless advertising across car screens and billboards that the cars pass by. As the car nears a retail outlet, the two could communicate with each other to alert the passenger of discounts and offers. Your phone, the car, and physical outlets would work with each other seamlessly and present great marketing opportunities using connected IoT devices. Targeted advertising could mean something totally new, as the vehicle itself could be ordered (with consent, of course) to take the passenger directly to a new restaurant or outlet for introduction offers. Business development could itself develop.

For marketers, thus, there will be three huge challenges and opportunities:
• Precise location-based targeting: it will become very critical to integrate both physical and digital across cars, devices and the outside physical environment (billboards, retail outlets, fuel stations, restaurants) on the move, and build effective and powerful cross-channel communication and promotions
• Hyper – personalisation: Data from ultra-intelligent autonomous vehicles will afford even greater personalization opportunities. Ads could be served very effectively based on even physical purchase/visit history, not only the digital one, for example. Entertainment options could be very precisely tailored.
• Real-time marketing: Alerts, ads, and messages will be based on where the customer is and what her destination is. Content can be dynamic and contextual to the location and intent
Technology tends to greatly influence how customers think and behave, and disrupt businesses. This happened with cars, with television, the PC and mobile phones. A similar, massive disruption will happen again, with autonomous cars. Good marketers have looked upon each disruption as an opportunity and innovated and not just adapted but leapfrogged using such shifts. Happy not-driving.

• Hyper – personalisation: Data from ultra-intelligent autonomous vehicles will afford even greater personalization opportunities. Ads could be served very effectively based on even physical purchase/visit history, not only the digital one, for example. Entertainment options could be very precisely tailored.
• Real-time marketing: Alerts, ads, andmessages will be based on where the customer is and what her destination is. Content can be dynamic and contextual to the location and intent
Technology tends to greatly influence how customers think and behave, and disrupt businesses. This happened with cars, with television, the PC and mobile phones. A similar, massive disruption will happen again, with autonomous cars. Good marketers have looked upon each disruption as an opportunity and innovated and not just adapted but leapfrogged using such shifts. Happy not-driving.
Source:Devendra Chawla and Jaspreet Bindra