Tech

Digital transformation dreaming

creativeThere is a huge pile of research reports and studies on my desk how digitization will change the way we do business. And I am sure there are similar piles in many managers’ offices. But what good are the best reports if you are unable to move the transformation forward?

Those that are succeeding in moving along their digital transformation have two things in common: one, they not only understand what digital transformation means, they also know that it means a fundamental change for the whole company. And two, they ensure that they have the right resources with the right expertise to transform their corporate culture to meet the upcoming challenges.

Digital transformation needs to driven by the CEO. Not your Head of IT. Not your Head of Sales. Not your Head of Something Something. It needs to be one of the top strategic priorities for the whole company driven from the top down.

Digital transformation is not walking down a straight path. You will need to be open for new business models. For new ways of implementing products and services. And your corporate culture will need to allow failure.

Digital transformation can be driven an internal facilitator like a Chief Digital Officer or even be outsourced into a new venture that can work without any “analog”disruption from the organization in form of resistance or doubts. But whatever way is chosen at the end of you will need a leader.

Digital transformation needs a leader who has a strong project management background, who is a multitasker, open to try new things. You will need someone who is impatient, a fast thinker , who plays well with others and is able to influence change within the culture of the board and with it the rest of the company. And you will need someone who is a strong communicator. Someone who can combine the “old” with the “new”.

That is why it is imperative for all organizations to start understanding what digital transformation means for their business and  how the digital competencies of new and existing directors will fit emerging strategies. And it is the CEO’s task to ensure that this journey is started on the right path.

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Insights from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report 2016

Venture captrenditalist Mary Meeker’s annual presentation on the State of the Internet always gets my attention (and many other’s as well) as it outlines where digital trends and with it marketing are headed to in the next few years.

At 213 pages it is a lot to digest and here are my main takeaways;

  • Internet growth is slowing down. The adoption rate was flay YoY at 9%. At the moment it is reaching about 42% of the world’s population.
  • The smartphone is hitting the saturation point. There are 7.4 billion people in the world and about 2.5 billion smartphones. And it seems as though the majority of those who can or will own a smartphone already do. But marketers shouldn’t worry, mobile will only become more important as people spend more time on their devices.
  • Online advertising is up 20% and mobile is a big driver of growth. Google and Facebook are also big drivers commanding 76% of all spend. Meeker sees a $22 billion opportunity in mobile advertising based on data showing consumers spend 25 percent of their media time on mobile while advertisers spend only 12 percent of their budgets here. But if marketers want to be effective they need to fit in with consumer behaviours. Think fitting the content with the platform specific consumer behaviours such as vertical, short length, full screen.
  • Ad blocking is on the rise. Obviously the public is making a statement here – time for marketers to find some acceptance and start to create content that is truly relevant to our audiences.
  • Messaging apps are huge and over time could take over the home screen on mobile devices. After all, 80% of users time is spent on 3 apps: Facebook, WhatsApp and Chrome. We will see a shift from messaging being just for us to be social to include more business related interactions. We must not forget that in Asia messaging apps like WeChat are already more or less used as home screens with people going there to not only chat but also shop, order taxis, transfer money or play games. Plus the next generations prefer to chat than actually physically talk.
  • Visual is exploding and images are fuelling sales. Meeker says that in 5 years at least 50% of searches will be made through images or speech. We are using our smartphones more to tell and share stories – no wonder Snapchat has made such a huge leap recently. For marketers this means if we can help our target audience visualize how a product fits into their lives, we can help drive sales.
  • Video is also obviously exploding with Snapchat and Facebook Live which increases the pressure to produce relevant, authentic and real-time content. Funnily enough, video ads are not doing so well. Ad blocking plays a major part here and many people mute the sound. Once again it is all about relevant targeting and delivering the relevant content at the right time and place.
  • Privacy and personal data. Obviously marketers love digital data as it gives us the opportunity for effective advertising ROIs. But according to Meeker, 45% of people are more worried about digital security than last year. What does this mean? Do not risk the trust you have earned with your audiences and listen to their concerns.
  • And finally after the rise of text, images….now the rise of the voice interfaces. Voice is probably the best “real time” format we have. We can speak faster than typing and it is definitely much more personal. While we may not be there completely from a technological point of view yet this is open up new avenues for sales and marketing.

Marketing customer centricity

3dWhile customer centricity is nothing new, customer experience lies at the heart of digital transformation.

Digital is putting customers in the driver seat, transforming their purchasing decisions. Today’s customers are more empowered, they can get a lot of information online way before they need to get in touch with a sales representative. It is a true shift in power and organizations need to adopt a customer centric approach across their company to offer value.

While most companies today claim to put their customers first, a surprisingly small number are actually doing it right. Servicing your customers well cannot be put into a “one size fits all” strategy and marketing plays an important role in helping to achieve customer centricity.

It’s all about “Personas”
The better you know your customers, the better you can give them what they want. Customer centric marketing needs to acknowledge that there is no average customer. Nobody wants to be spammed with generic email promotions that do not speak to your needs or is just plain boring. This is where personas can help you. By understanding your audiences and buyer types, you can craft a specific message, with relevant content, in the right channels, creating value along the way and hopefully creating long-term relationships, ideally with your customers becoming brand advocates.

Understanding the customer journey
The ‘customer journey’ can be defined as all interactions that customers’ have with a company’s brand, product or services across all touch points and channels. In today’s digital world it is imperative that a seamless experience is created across all channels – and this includes on- as well as offline. Understanding the customer journey allows us to better connect, communicate and give the right information at the right time of the journey or purchasing process.

Make use of data
Too many marketers talk about data-driven marketing but data is only useful if the right technology and know how is in place to capture and analyse. Every day customers are telling us what they want by clicking, sharing, downloading. And it is not about collecting vast amounts of data but more to look at the data and understanding what customers need and want and then using that insight to develop better marketing campaigns, design products and services as well as other efforts and initiatives.

Customer centric business = social business
Customer intimacy relies on two-way conversation. Social media allows you to understand and communicate with your customers, making your relationship with them more meaningful. Social media is a key channel for customers in their decision-making. Make sure that you are present where your customers are present, that you listen, identify the gaps in customer engahement and respond in real-time.

The shift towards becoming a customer centric organization is complex and takes a long time. Marketing plays an important role in helping create a change in corporate culture where the focus is on the customer. The future of marketing (as always) is exciting and challenging.

Facebook F8

FBFacebook is on a roll – the rate at which it is introducing new features is mind-blowing.

Here are the main new things to watch out for:

  • The chatbots are coming
    Through Messenger, businesses can now deliver automated customer support. Might still be a little wearisome now (like ordering flowers) but as Techcrunch wrote it is estimated that chatbots could replace the 1-800 numbers (and probably the humans behind it).
  • Sponsored message ads are go
    Businesses can now send re-engagement messages to people who’ve already started a conversation with them on Messenger. Will be interesting to see how this works out, consumers will not want anything that is to spammy so businesses need to see what the right balance will be.
  • Keeping you in app
    We all know that with the battle over networks everyone’s intention is to keeo you “in app” for as long as possible. So Facebook now also allows you to drop files straight from your Dropbox into Messenger (saves emailing) and have a “persistent Chat Head” at the top of your screen (Android only for now)
  • Instant articles
    And if you haven’t had enough, then instant articles can now be used by ALL publishers. Developers get on it.

 

Some innovation to snack on

Summer is slowly saying goodbye. And just in time to keep the good vibes going, We Are Social have published their fourth Curiosity Stop. The last report was so full it was a bit overwhelming so they have toned it down to be more snackable. I really love MotorMood – an LED against road rage or just to put a smile on someone’s face, but also clever new innovations like Mr Gabriel. Used with a smartwatch, it lets you send a text with your location directly to pre-selected loved-ones.

I is for Inspiration – Takeaways From Google’s Larry Page Letter to Staff

google

 

Big news from Google this week. Alphabet. Their new holding company. And a great name at that. Suggesting anything and everything and many new ideas and multitude of opportunties.

Larry Page letter to staff, announcing Alphabet, has some pretty good, quotable quotes.  Something any CEO or leader should take note of as they are relevant for any business that wants to be successful.

“We are still trying to do things other people think are crazy but we are super excited about”

If you do not allow for genuine, contrarian ideas to be developed and heard in your company you are crushing innovation. Companies that have a true desire to keep innovating and investing in weird, amazing ideas are sure to be at the forefront of success.

“Over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes”

No one wants to end up being the next Blockbuster, Netscape or Kodak. Google is disrupting itself with Alphabet. And a clever move it is.

“Our company is operating well today, but we think we can make it cleaner and more accountable”

The restructuring allows Google to be agile (something the investors have been waiting for). Alphabet gives Google the flexibility to shift businesses. Not only under new umbrellas but also under new CEOs who may offer better leadership.

“Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence”


With each new business under Alphabet having separate management teams, more opportunities are freed up for career development. This in return is great
for attracting and retaining talent. And we must not forget it allows for strong employer branding. A smart move.

“Alphabet … means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations”

Google may be a tech giant but at the end of the day it is all about your clients and your employees.

And a little marketing side note:  Is it smart to re-organize one of the most recognizable brands on the planet? Sure. In creating Alphabet, Google is following powerful trend in corporate branding just like Apple or GE.  And having a complete house of  strong brands makes for a strong catalyst for innovation.

 

 

Drones, Messaging and More: Some Insights from Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends Report

Screen-Shot-2015-05-27-at-11.30.33-AMIt’s that time of year again (or another year has flown by more like it).Last week Mary Meeker presented once again her deep dive into tech trends. A whooping 197 slides this year, here are my main takeaways about the state of the internet world in 2015:

  • 39% of the world population (or 2.8 billion people) are now on the internet. Getting the remaining 5 billion people connected is a huge business opportunity. We have seen Facebook (Internet.org) and Google (Project Loon) make inroads. Of course their hope is by giving people in developing countries access to the web, they will become loyal customers.
  • Not really new news: the top internet companies are actually platforms. Think Apple, Google, Alibaba, Facebook and Amazon.
  • Whereas we have already seen massive transformation in the consumer space, great potential for new business opportunities lie in healthcare, education and government.
  • If you live in the US and are an adult, then you spend over 5.6 hours a day on the internet and that mostly via your mobile device. In Europe we are seeing a similar trend. And of course as our attention span gets shorter, we prefer shorter, bite-sized content.
  • And very important for us marketers: while consumers spend most of their time on mobile, ad spend on this medium is not on par. Another huge revenue opening.
  • Video viewing is growing. 9.9 hours a day in the US. And interesting to see that more people watch video vertically than horizontally (think Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram…) – so for content creators this means rethinking how they shoot their videos.
  • Messaging is KING! 6 of the 10 top apps by usage are messaging apps. Another potential opportunity for businesses by offering additional services like taxi, payment or food delivery services (similar to what WeChat is already doing in China). New messaging apps will have a hard time penetrating the market as it will become hard convincing people to join a new network their friends and family are not on.
  • Generation Z is shifting from text to visual social media. Facebook and Twitter are being used less, Snapchat and Instagram more.
  • With technology we are moving more to “just in time” products and services. Think grocery or food delivery, driver services, package pickups. Traditional businesses will become more and more disrupted unless they can find a way to compete with convenience. But online market places as well as on demand services are creating “part time jobs”. AirBnB, Uber  or Etsy allow for supplemental incomes to people’s “regular” jobs. A trend that will continue to grow no doubt.
  • Drones are the new cameras. Fact: There has been 167% year-over year increase in consumer drone sales. But we also need to consider their commercial use. They have the ability to save money for businesses by replacing planes amongst others and worse case could replace human jobs.
  • And finally – millennials are starting to drive the economy. Not only are they an important consumer group that marketers need to consider in their strategies, but also employers. Millennials have grown up connected to the internet and expect their working experience to offer that same flexibility.

Of course working a lot with clients in the financial industry, what is missing for me is more insight into how the finance and banking sector is and will continue to be affected by the internet. Think peer to peer lending, crowdsourcing, Bitcoin or even just simply how millennials will want to bank in the future.

Maybe Mary Meeker will include a slide in next year’s report.