Inspired by ideas from Kevin Kelly’s New York Times bestseller, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that will Shape the Future, this blog series looks at the inevitable technological shifts which will make or break the companies of tomorrow. “Part I: Data Goldmines” examines the oncoming data explosion which will empower deep insights and facilitate highly-personalized customer experiences.
Mountains of data
Soon companies will have access to mountains and mountains of data. While today’s companies only have access to data they’ve collected themselves (via CRM systems or through website analytics), it won’t be long before they have access to a vast sea of information. Some of this data could be bought from giants like Google; however, most data will be willingly supplied by customers.
Privacy is a thing of the past
Sound surprising? It shouldn’t be. In 2015 the Columbia Business School found that more than 70% of consumers would consider sharing their sensitive data in exchange for a valuable product or service, even when not obligated to do so. Younger generations are even more comfortable sharing their data in exchange for benefits, pointing to a shift in attitudes concerning information privacy.
New technologies produce new data
New technologies will expand this sea of data even further. The internet of things (IoT) will soon surround us with sensor-embedded objects capable of collecting and transmitting data that never existed before. But that’s not all: information retrieved from wearables will also contribute to this immense data pool. In fact, these technologies are already tracking user behaviours: insurance companies are using IoT to track driver activity and Fitbits to track fitness levels. With this wealth of data, companies could soon be able to analyze and segment their customers with extreme precision, personalizing their products and services and predicting their needs.
Personalization trumps privacy
Why would customers share so much of their data willingly? According to Kevin Kelly, personalization is a key motivator. Currently, Netflix and Spotify can create customized recommendations and playlists based on analyzing individual viewing/listening data. The more a company knows about a consumer, the more accurate personalizations it can create. For example, imagine if a company had data on your food and drink preferences, cultural interests, lifestyle habits, and budget. It may be able to curate a party or a vacation for you, saving you hours of research and making the experience more enjoyable than if you had planned it yourself. Many people would gladly share their data in exchange for such services.
Examples of personalized playlists on Spotify
Where to start?
What can companies do to harvest and harness the oncoming sea of consumer data? Here are some places to start:
• Invest in a deep data dive. Overall, companies are not effectively collecting data and are only analyzing data superficially (Dimension Data). Before the data deluge comes, get a head start by digging into the data you currently have access to.
• Invest in future-proof software and systems. According to Kevin Kelly, we are now experiencing the beginning of platform synergy, where a myriad of software products are being built to integrate with larger platforms. Platform synergy presents a big win for data analysis because it will enable you to connect your various software solutions to your company’s CRM, allowing for data-sharing between systems. With integration, the right CRM will be able to collect data from the various software products used by your company and analyze this data in its entirety, enabling insights that had never otherwise been possible. What’s more: this almost omniscient view will power personalizations capable of wow-ing your customers.
• Start dreaming. What kind of emerging technologies could be used to collect customer data in your industry? For example, Kevin Kelly notes the potential of eye-tracking and emotion-tracking technologies. Both could be used to improve customer experience by analyzing customer interactions with websites/apps and customer service professionals. Data collected from these interactions could tell you more about a customer’s visual preferences, signal shortcomings in your website/app’s content or design, or alert your company to feelings of frustration which could require immediate care. Technologies like these are just a stone’s throw away from becoming an everyday reality in our marketing, sales, and service departments.
The inevitable is coming
Nov. 6, 2017: the CRM giant Salesforce announces its integration with G-Suite (Google’s product suite) and Google Analytics. While Google Analytics limits its focus to general user activity on a company’s website, it could only be a matter of time before Salesforce users have access to more expansive data (i.e. the browser history of individual customers who have logged into Google via Gmail or other Google apps). On top of this, Salesforce already enables easy integrations with third-party software (ex. InTheChat integrates with Salesforce), allowing companies to push customer data from various software products directly to the CRM. Salesforce’s AI technology (Einstein) can leverage this data, suggesting specific actions for each customer. These advances all point to how industry leaders are already preparing for the inevitable surge of consumer data and the wealth of opportunities that accompany it.
Embrace the data deluge
In the words of Kevin Kelly, we must confront the future with a “vigilant, eyes-wide-open embrace.” Companies will soon have access to an abundance of data that will need to be managed effectively to deeply understand customer behaviour and provide the highly-personalized products, services, and experiences that consumers have come to expect in a world of Spotify and Netflix. So get ready to embrace the deluge of data with open eyes and an open mind: in this new world your most fantastical imaginings could (and most likely will) come true.
For more ideas on how to effectively embrace the data deluge, contact InTheChat.