Are brands ready to adapt to the changing world where technologies like AI, IoT and AR/VR are leading consumers from the front?
Arnav Neel Ghosh
Over the last decade, technology has unlocked incredible new ways for brands to connect with consumers; they have more data and insight than ever before. We are in the midst of a customer revolution where the world is reshaped by the convergence of social, mobile, immersive and cloud tech. The combination of these technologies enables us to connect in a new way and is dramatically transforming the way we live and work.
The connected world
In the connected world, consumers are no longer a number on a brand’s ledger; they are unique human beings with distinct sets of needs. They have a powerful voice and want relationships on equal terms; hence brands need agility in connecting with employees, partners and products in new ways to align around consumers like never before. From mainframes to GUI to iPhones, we are at the cusp of the fourth transformation — it will move technology from what we carry to what we wear. Earlier, it was all about the interface between tech and people; now it is all about the experience and that changes almost everything. For brands to succeed in this transformative age, they need to culturally adapt to this change.
Around us, we see a groundswell of this change taking place which has blurred the physical and digital — driverless cars to drones to IoT subsume and immerse us. We are moving towards a new era where humans and intelligent machines would interact in ways that were first envisioned in science fiction.
There are some of the world’s best thinkers and the biggest investments from some of the deepest pockets, solutions to some of the most daunting product design problems and a vision shared by a growing number of people which are driving the change today. The scale of this change is huge with Digi Capital predicting it to be a $150 billion industry by 2020, with AR driving the bulk of it at $130 billion.
There is a lot of buzz around immersive tech and its general impact in business. Immersive tech has just exited alpha mode and moved to beta. The biggest challenge for brands and practitioners of immersive tech is that it has often been caught up in jargons and promises of creating magic; sustaining beyond the initial wow is the real deal. No new tech can be force-fed to drive scale.
What’s next for brands?
In the immersive age of businesses, brands will have to be imaginative and innovative in the way they converse with their consumers. The narrative has to dramatically change from ‘storytelling’ to ‘storyliving’. It’s about being contextual and owning the moment of truth; it’s about making products interactive. It’s about creating moments which will wow them while also triggering value back to the business.
At the end of it, brands need to think smart and create ideas which solve a business problem — ideas that cut through barriers; tech only becomes an enabler. Whether it is about creating immersive learning through Hololens where you can touch and feel planets in a solar system or enhancing your shopping experience through an AR lens or using IoT to build a smart home product — ideas continue to fuel business.
The new world is a visual web. About 65% of people are visual learners and 90% of all information transmitted to our brain is visual, hence visual browsing is driving a new way of content consumption. Businesses will need speed and agility during the innovation process and in general, in the speed of connecting smart devices, of tracking and analysing data, serving context-based messaging to a consumer based on location in real-time.
With Apple and Google creating their AR platforms, it will only hasten and democratise learning. Computer vision and big data will fuel and scale experience. Retail, enterprise, healthcare and education will drive adoption. Welcome to the immersive age of business!
Author is Managing Director, Blippar India