Guest Column: Getting ahead of the game: Digital trends in 2015: Aditya Bhamidipaty

Guest Column: Getting ahead of the game: Digital trends in 2015: Aditya Bhamidipaty

Author | Aditya Bhamidipaty | Saturday, Mar 14,2015 2:49 PM

Guest Column: Getting ahead of the game: Digital trends in 2015: Aditya Bhamidipaty

Businesses are realising the importance of company-wide focus for customer engagement. Marketing here acts as an important function to orchestrate customer engagement across entire organisation. There is enough opportunity to optimize the impact of investments across the entire set of touch points. Customer engagement is becoming one of the best practices that businesses are adopting. Engagement is not a one-time activity, it is a movement. It is about how organizations leverage different kinds of information available for different types of business purposes. In order to drive engagement, the value of data that was previously unattainable or unknowable is being unlocked.

In 2014, 73 percent of companies worldwide either had already invested in or planned on investing in Data analytics solutions to drive customer engagement, according to Gartner. Gartner found that despite the dramatic rise in investment in Data capture and analysis, there was no corresponding rise in Data projects, signalling that companies weren't sure what to do with it. 2015 will be the year of experimentation as companies which have got their Data analytics feet wet, will play with new and exciting ways by which Data can change their world views. Below are the top trends for 2015 for engaging better with the customers: 

Below are the top 8 trends for 2015: 

1. Digital becomes the heart of organisations

Organizations are going to see a big cultural shift. Greater use of technology is changing customer behaviour and creating the need for new business models. From the vertical alignment, the companies have shifted to the concentric approach with digital being the centre of the organisation. Businesses are now realising that it needs to be reshaped for the digital age. Through the process of automation, virtualisation, integration and mobilisation, businesses are transforming the nature of their entire business.
• Customer evolution is leading to Digitization
• India ranks third among the top countries for smartphone users with an estimated 117 million subscribers
• World’s highest yearly growth rate of internet users
• Over 200 million Internet users at present
• By 2018 almost half the country will be connected through the Internet

2. Traditional demographics market segmentation will give way to consumerism

People of all ages across markets are constructing their own identities more freely than ever. As a result, consumption patterns are no longer defined by ‘traditional’ demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status and more. Younger, affluent consumers are still (usually) the earliest adopters of innovations. But now successful products, services and brands will transcend their initial demographics almost instantaneously. The new dynamic segmentation will happen in real time based on behavioural data acquired from previous interactions with the brand.

3. Analytics to become deeply embedded everywhere

Though the amount of data collected, stored and mined will continue to grow at exponential rates, the noise about data capturing and analysing is soon going to blend into the IT landscape. It is going to become usual business, thus leading to customer engagement at each level of work in the organisation.

With technology solutions being readily available, all the talks about engagement analytics is finally turning into action. Brands are finally able to harness all of those nuggets of information and put them to use to drive purchases, increase customer satisfaction and improve the customer experience. Vast improvements in CRM systems and integration with the cloud have made it possible for every customer interaction to move smoothly and efficiently. Customer analytics has become an unavoidable metrics to profitability in business as the empowered customer of this era is obsessed with engagement at personal level.

Analytics will become deeply, but invisibly embedded everywhere. With the kind of awareness about big data spreading across businesses, the focus is going to shift to big questions and big answers rather than big data itself.

4. Wealth of data to result in proactive engagement

Proactively reaching out to the customers not only offers a chance to hold onto them, but turn them into the brand advocates. A great deal of important data is generated by any engagement with a customer, and smart companies are gathering and analyzing that data to make more informed decisions moving forward. They have now actively started feeding that data to their customers via customers’ channel of choice. With wealth of data available with the businesses, businesses are now actively feeding information to the customers before they actually ask for it. This proactive customer engagement approach has been adopted by several brands and is going to see rise in popularity across businesses.

5. Non-Traditional companies joining the data marathon

Companies of all stripes and sizes will increasingly adopt a data centric approach as they set strategy, encourage collaboration among colleagues, and interact with customers. A few years ago, big data tools were available only to corporate giants that could invest in proprietary and largely inflexible infrastructure. Amongst the big giants as well, it was just customer centric sectors which thought about engagement based on data analysis.
Now, even the non-traditional sectors, like building materials, auto ancillaries, etc. are realising the importance of quickly accelerating customer engagement, forcing the companies to react if they want to remain in the competition. In 2015, big data’s ability to connect dots in ways never before, possible will prompt even the b2b companies to rethink the way they connect with their stakeholders.

6. Hyper personalisation to be the new normal (Dynamic Pricing)

2015 will bring personalization to a new level with the advent of hyper-personalization in customer interactions. Every interaction will be captured and compiled. Algorithms will float through all data to provide customized, tailored information for each customer. Each interaction will be an opportunity for brands to fine-tune these algorithms to determine the wants and needs of each individual, and not just the collective demographic. Personalization goes deeper into every aspect of marketing like; your message, content, offer, templates, timings, and mode of the communication.

7. Brand Speak- Real Time Marketing Campaigns

When it comes to customer engagement based on analytics, enterprises are looking for the ability to discover, access, analyse and act on insights in near real time. This gives businesses the critical capability to nudge to their consumers with relevant content, at the right time and via the right communication media to deliver incremental ROI. However most insights for marketers were traditionally available in retrospective manner and rarely helped them in navigating a live campaign towards better results.  Tools like FirstHiveTM are fundamentally altering the game here - brands not only get access to real-time data & insights but also to a never before capability to hyper personalise their consumer communication in real time. In 2015, winning brands will start contentious, painful and necessary conversations. When consumers are surrounded by an ocean of branded content, constantly occupying neutral ground means a slow drift into obscurity. Brands speaking to individuals will be a reality.

8. The right lane is the fast lane

Time-starved customers will continue to demand accelerated physical service options, especially from brands they extend their loyalty towards. 

Brand to expect customer loyalty, will have to be loyal first. Brands will have to put systems in place that will identify these customers, and provide them with differential services like fast lanes, or privileges that are relevant to them.
Winning brands will design FAST-LANING solutions that benefit all customers, even if that’s in part by removing the most time-sensitive customers from the 'slow' lanes.

The author is Aditya Bhamidipaty, Founder & CEO of eMart Solution.

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