From a technology perspective, 2013 was an exciting year to be a marketer. We witnessed an explosion in mobile tools, an increased use of targeted social media, powerful analytics tools to draw insights and measure ROI, and Cloud technologies delivering on-demand rich interactive applications.
2014 looks like it will be another great year for growth and innovation.
- Social budgets are becoming bigger than ever before as organizations continue to engage and leverage their participant community1
- Mobile internet use is expected to overtake desktop internet use 2
- The C-Suite is finally responding to the marketer’s need for investments in analytical tools that drive better decision making and greater accountability. According to HubSpot, CMOs report they spend 8% of their marketing budgets on marketing analytics, and expect to increase this level in the next three years 3
- The Cloud is set to become less of a buzzword as organizations start to understand how to leverage this technology and define new paradigms of usage for their industry. The global market for cloud computing will see an increase from $40.7B last 2011, to more than $241 billion in 2020 4
While each of these technologies individually add value, imagine the possibilities in combining all 4 pillars of computing – Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud – what we at Ayantek call The SMAC Stack. In the coming years, organizations are going to increase their investments in the SMAC Stack gaining leverage to increase business productivity and deepen customer engagement. Specifically in 2014, expect to see the following SMAC trends occurring.
SMAC Stack Trend 1: Real time, highly contextual, targeted retail offerings
According to Pew Research, 91 percent of adult mobile phone owners have their devices within arm's reach at all times.5 Talk about being tied at the hip to your device. Consumer affinity to their device provides a golden opportunity for retailers to leverage a number of advanced functions.
This past weekend I was using the Waze App on my iPhone as I was driving from Boston to NYC. [For folks who don’t know the Waze App is a community-based traffic and navigation app.] As I glanced at the next turn on the map, there was a ‘pop-up’ telling me that there was a Home Depot two miles away and they had a special 15% off sale. There has been a lot of recent talk about Geo-location based offers but not many companies have actually explored this. As consumers become more comfortable with sharing their geo-location, it will provide retailers the opportunity to delivery highly specific offers in real-time.
The next level from this would be to leverage permission-based data around a consumer’s social, mobile, and web footprint to provide personalized consumer experiences. Imagine delivering notifications straight to your mobile device before, when, and after you step into the store. This type of advanced targeting is possible through automated, intelligent, decision making systems that have required expensive computing power to crunch data an individual level. Until even a few years ago this kind of machine based reasoning power required unsustainable hardware and software investments. Fortunately, cloud computing has made this power available to organizations of all sizes and shapes.
SMAC Stack Trend 2: The website as an intelligent and rich tool for users, not just set of click-and-point pages
Something very interesting is happening online. The days of the flat website where you click on links to load a new page are going to come to an end. Hopefully you are already seeing that websites are getting richer in functionality and interaction. Take Analog Devices, the large semiconductor manufacturer. The ADI website has thousands of highly technical pages of content related to ADI’s thousands of products. An engineer trying to find the right product for their design, literally has to read and sift through potentially hundreds of pages of content making their overall cycle time much longer.
A few months back ADI introduced the Signal Chain Designer, an online design and configuration tool, which works right within the ADI website. The Signal Chain Designer provides a selection and design environment in which engineers can access verified product combinations and tested applications circuits, which can be customized or newly created according to their specifications. This offers a rich user experience for electronics engineers to search and select products for their signal chain needs, get verified product recommendations and reference circuits, save and team sharing capabilities, and make product purchases all from within the tool.
In 2014 and beyond, we believe that companies will offer rich interactive tools, solutions, and experiences similar to ADI’s Signal Chain Designer. Websites that offer such rich digital experiences will also be able to track richer data about their users’ needs and goals using it to deliver better service and value and ultimately increasing their profits.
SMAC Trend 3: Gamification as an Engagement Strategy
Next year 88% of brands will be on social media. In order to raise your brand’s awareness and generate leads organizations are going to have to run specialized, targeted and socially engaging campaigns. One way to increase engagement across your campaigns is through Gamification. Recent statistics claim that Gamification can lead to a 100% to 150% pickup in engagement metrics.6
Heineken developed the Ideas Brewery where they asked fans to design the "ultimate draught beer drinking fantasy." Winners received a cash prizes as well as a two-day trip to Amsterdam to participate in a beer-making workshop. This idea encouraged social sharing and in addition to product innovation, the contest also enabled Heineken to obtain an insider look into what the brand's consumers want.
A prominent social platform that several brands are leveraging for Gamification is FourSquare. The History Channel makes great uses of FourSquare’s location-driven mechanics to provide users with badges when they ‘check-in’ to historical sites across America. Giving users a sense of organic accomplishment keeps them playing longer, while your brand gets more exposure.
Both these examples show the usage of Social and Mobile to enrich the digital experience, with Analytics & Cloud as the underlying technologies to enhance and deliver the rich experience. In 2014 and beyond, we see organizations utilizing similar Gamification strategies that leverage the SMAC Stack.
Keep your eyes peeled on the innovation horizon. 2014 should be a lot of fun!