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The 21st century innovations, powered by technology, have ushered in a sense of interconnectedness into our lives. The proliferation of wearable gadgets and smart devices all around us have captured moments of our lives, preserved them on cloud to make them accessible in the form of action oriented insightful data on our mobile handsets. These smart devices allow us to be boastful of fitness improvement scores on social networks and guide us through an analytical dashboard. Welcome to the world of Social, Mobility, Analytics, and Cloud (SMAC), the nexus of forces as mentioned by Gartner that is empowering our lives as well as enabling enterprises.
A clothing store in Seattle, Hointer, has defied traditional retailing by adopting the concept of an intelligent store. Hosted on cloud, the Omni-Cart store app allows shoppers to make in-store purchases by scanning the QR code of the selected outfit. The app also provides recommendation to the shoppers by analyzing their purchase behavior through social data and likes. Once the QR code is scanned, the shoppers are guided to proceed to the fitting room to try the dress scanned using mobile phone. Shoppers can also explore different sizes using the in-room display inside the fitting room. Once the outfit is selected, shoppers proceed to check out by just swiping their credit card at the counter.
According to Gartner, there will be more than 24 billion interconnected devices globally by 2020. Social, Mobility, Analytics, and Cloud has emerged as disruptive technological forces, which has redefined the way of doing business. Traditional business paradigms are pushed to the era of obsolescence as the rise of disruptive firms becomes the new normal. With humongous amount of data generated each second, enterprises are busy analyzing their customer’s behavior online and on mobile. Let us explore these disruptive technologies and understand how they influence consumers and enterprises in the 21st century.
The evolution of social networking over a decade has moved beyond social connections to enterprise-consumer engagement. Enterprises have quickly adapted their marketing strategy to adopt social as part of their consumer engagement process. Brands are busy monitoring social activities of their customers in order to crowd source consumer sentiments for the next product launch. Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” became one of the most creative and successful video campaigns over social media with more than 54 million views in 2013. Dove took the challenge of changing the perception of beauty among women. The brand allowed a forensic sketch expert to create sketches of series of women based on the description provided by these individual themselves and someone who have met them a few moments ago. The results were astounding as both the images created were different proving that the women as their own beauty critic. The entire conversion were captured in a three to six minute video and promoted over social media. This innovative campaign emotionally connected with the consumers and allowed them to understand the real beauty from the eyes of others. Social media for brands is all about understanding their consumers and connecting with them during the product lifecycle.
As per Gartner estimates, in 2013 968 million units of smartphone were sold to end users out of 1.8 billion mobile handsets sold globally. This opens vistas of opportunities for global marketers to engage with their customers’ right in their bedroom. Proliferation of smartphone applications is allowing marketers to awe consumers with customized service offerings. Mobility is no longer restricted to voice and data services and has graduated to life easing gadget, which includes NFC (Near Field Communications), mobile wallets, applications, and many more features. For enterprise users, smartphones are critical for business operations in this connected times. Workforce management applications and global connectivity have created case for business successes. The world is diminished to a connected workstation for global workforce. Burberry, leading clothing retailer took early cognizance of its consumers on mobile. In 2011, with the launch of a mobile site the company created a platform for consumers to experience in-store benefits on their smartphone. In-Store sales people were equipped with iPads to create an offline exposition of its online environment. Customers try RFID tagged clothes in front of a mirror that projects the clothing in a video. With this, Burberry has removed the boundary between online and real world engaging with their customers in real time. Integrating digital with mobile has helped Burberry increase its sales by 18% in the first quarter of 2013.
Every day more than 400 million tweets are posted on Twitter and more than 4.8 billion content are shared on Facebook. There are more than 3.8 million email messages exchanged globally every second. As we embark on a technological revolution, the volume of data generated through digital and offline processes have revolutionized the way enterprises react to their consumers’ sentiments. Leading banks in the US are monitoring their customer purchasing life cycles through multiple channels to understand churn rate and product purchasing pattern. Notable banks including Wells Fargo and Bank of America are evaluating and analyzing the voluminous amount of data to understand the effectiveness of customer service and identifying churn reasons. In this era of nonstop customer-enterprise engagement, enterprises need to adopt analytics to understand their consumers and propose offers, which will help develop customer loyalty.
Mckinsey & Co. reports that the total economic impact of cloud technology will be around $1.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion annually in 2025. Cloud technology forms the core of the disruptive forces and provides a platform to host all other forces. The ubiquity of social networking sites, mobile applications, and analytical tools are attributed to cloud platforms, which host these tools. Netflix, a pioneering in utilizing the benefits of SMAC, uses cloud to stream videos on multiple devices across geographies. Cloud technology helps to provide scalability, agility, and ubiquity to transactions across the enterprises. The rise in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Bring Your Own App (BYOA) culture across enterprises has seen cloud play a prominent role towards digital transformation. In order to suit the on-demand nature of enterprise transactions in the era of SMAC, cloud provides a perfect platform for business successes.
The Future Ahead
SMAC represents an interconnected future, which will transform our lifestyle. From customer engagement to assisting with purchase decision-making will form the new normal for SMAC in days to come. As the number of interconnected device increases, digital lifestyle and social parlance will become the order of the day. Internet of Things will empower human beings to communicate with devices in a social set up. Big data analytics will continue improving business processes through predictive analytics. Social, mobility, analytics, and cloud will lay the foundation of the 21st century enterprises. As we continue sharing information over social media, humongous data produced will continue to be analyzed and provide insightful information to aid in decision-making. SMAC will continue to impact our lives in days to come. Let us welcome this new era of technological revolution.
Alok Ranjan is a marketing specialist and management consultant based in Mumbai, India. He believes, brands are caught in a maze of technology and economic dynamics, caused by disruptive forces, which are changing the way consumers interact with brands. Alok advises brands to shape consumer centric strategy and assists to develop a roadmap for businesses.