In the last few years, I have been wondering about a future like the one depicted in the worldwide famous film “Minority Report”, where smart digital billboards were ubiquitous and delivered customised messages to everyone passing by, all around the city. I guess I wasn’t the only with these thoughts, was I? I am sure that a multitude of experts in the digital marketing field dreamed about how to implement solutions like that.
I consider myself a very lucky person, because I work daily with a visionary and passionate team, with whom I can brain storm about new ideas and software, new models and architectures. On the other hand, we have a daily challenge: getting the products out of the working bench, because “real artists ship”, to use someone else’s words.
How do we make visions of an innovative future and the pragmatism of daily life co-exist?
How shall we start our initial brainstorming? Shall we begin from a technicality, a definition or a vision? Probably a little bit of all.
As all good essays, the most important step is to have a clear picture of your topic. Being a developer myself, I will follow a technical approach and I am now going to give an operative definition. Within digital marketing and proximity marketing, the goal is to develop modules and standard applicative interfaces to manage dynamic, bidirectional and omnichannel communication.
This requires modelling people’s behaviour in public places, how they interact, how they communicate and what they do while waiting. Such models should include experiential, semantic and behavioural analysis of the individuals. Technically, the considered scenario is that of content provisioning, where content can be multimedia, bidirectional and interactional. All of the messages are delivered in public places for either information or business purposes.
The most wanted goal in digital signage, and in proximity marketing, is to provide and consume the best digital content ever. Nowadays this translates into targeted, bidirectional, dynamic and multichannel content. The provided content should be able to interpret and predict customer’s expectations and needs. In one sentence, content should improve customer’s experience.
In order to achieve such goals one has to follow a general approach, which can be applied to different contexts. For example, I can quickly imagine the following two:
- Public services industry, where one as to accomplish institutional duties;
- Retail industry, where one can create new business opportunities by improving the sale flow and by developing new marketing models.
For most organisations, if not all, there are steps where people (customers, employees, citizens) have to wait to receive a service or product. This happens for example in hospitals, department stores and post offices. In such cases, a fast and interactive communication is highly valued by the persons. Showing interest towards those who are waiting for you, giving them the chance to express their own opinions quickly and clearly, increases the quality of your organization. This will make the people that interact with you happier, and they will value your organisation more.
It is therefore of the uttermost importance to integrate together the different communication and interaction flows, which contribute to compose the customer experience. This way the IT infrastructure will be able to handle all of the channels. This is the prerequisite to analyse the data and then suggest the right content to the right person at the right moment through the right channel.
At this point, I could describe in detail software architectures and business intelligence models, but that would probably make all of my few readers run away. I will instead introduce the concept of effectiveness, which is a simple and key concept for any technological solution. It goes like this: efficiency depends on data analysis and results communication. The smarter the analysis the higher the efficiency, the more optimal the communication the higher the efficiency. In turns, the efficiency of a solution will determine its effectiveness, both for a service or a business.
Let me give you a simple example: queue management, in shopping centres or for public services. In this context, one should take the following actions in order to achieve an effective communication:
- Integrate existing loyalty systems;
- Introduce new channels for collecting information about the users (online registration, apps for mobile devices, …);
- Perform automatic elaboration of statistics about dwelling time;
- Develop an algorithm for studying the behaviour of the user while waiting;
- Collect all of the user information from all of the channels, and produce a complete picture;
- Analyse the data and their semantics to produce targeted content.
Nowadays, although we are living the digital revolution and the number of connections keeps increasing, several channels are often not well connected and lots of information is not analysed or completely lost.
The path is clear by now: one needs a modular, interoperable and unifying platform. To develop such a kind of platform one should keep in mind the following two main principles:
- To abstract from the applied field and
- To aim at an effective and unified communication.
Such a platform should be able to communicate with any existing information system, mobile device and proximity device. In my mind, this platform appears as a unified and multimedia marketing-interface, which allows users to communicate naturally. In no way users are forced to communicate through a specific channel, users can instead choose their own favourite device and no information is lost. Standard mobile text, emails, social networking, conferences, touch, gesture and advanced computer vision are some of the technologies that this unified and multimedia marketing-interface should be able to handle.
Nowadays we witness a society that is becoming more and more digital. The number of mobile devices has exploded and keeps increasing everywhere in the World; the number of connections is huge; the quantity of data produced every second goes beyond imagination (90% of all the data in the World has been generated in the last two years alone). Today people do not gather only by going to shopping centres or public squares, they meet on digital platforms, they gather on social networks. They buy on line and in store; they buy online while in the store. Everything is mixed and correlated.
It is therefore essential to be able to see and understand this huge net of connections. The Marketer of the Future is the one who will interact with all of these channels, who will create a complete picture for each user, who will harness the information to give users what they want and in the way they want.
About the Author
Riccardo D’Angelo (Edisonweb Srl founder) is passionate about effective technologies. He likes to bring innovative products into businesses as well as into public organizations. Edisonweb invests heavily in R&D and fosters collaborations with Academies in order to stay ahead of time. Web Signage by Edisonweb has been the first Digital Signage platform Worldwide available on Microsoft Cloud Platform and has received several international awards in the Digital Signage market.