Article

People Power: Today, Tomorrow

22 Mar 2017

Posted by Andrew Henning

There was an excellent talk recently by Igor Beuker (expert on emerging trends in marketing, media and innovation) in which he said that audiences will:

“swipe your brand to one side like they do a Tinder profile”

This is the era of the audience – no longer will they tolerate brands that don’t consider their needs. When apps and websites were short off the ground, users would get excited by the latest one, often having to work around pitfalls and bugs to get to the content they wanted. With so much choice these days, brands need to pivot around the users’ needs and desires to remain attractive and relevant. If they don’t the users won’t be forgiving - *swipe* and you’re out of their life without a second thought.

Businesses are transforming across all industries, established brands like Tommy Hilfiger are embracing luxury fashion’s ‘see now, buy now’ trend with the #TommyNow campaign – where they allow users to buy catwalk collections straight after the show, a sway from the long tradition of waiting 6 months for collections to become available to the public. It’s a great strategy as audiences are becoming impatient – they want things to be instant, they want them now.

Consumers want things their way and on their terms and the brands that listen will reap the benefits.

So what should brands be looking at in 2017? Our Today, Tomorrow report outlines some of the key areas you should consider in your current and future business strategy.

Today. Things you should be doing already

Tomorrow. Think about these things soon

Business

Topic: Partnerships and collaboration

Today

Partnering with other brands

Audiences want their experiences to be simple, frictionless and convenient. This means more brands working together so that their users can use products and services seamlessly. Brands need to become less precious about their audience ownership.

A great example is the Sonos / Spotify collaboration, you can now connect to the Sonos speakers through the Spotify app. This sets the speakers and platform at an advantage that other similar systems don’t offer. As long as their audience is using their service then it’s a win-win situation.

Tomorrow

Embracing common platforms

Consumers are trimming down the number of apps they use. 84% of consumer’s smartphone app time is spent across just five native apps. Communication and social media apps account for the most minutes spent (Forrester).

You don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Using available, popular systems or integrating with them is a great way to take a big technology leap without having to do all the legwork yourself.

Large brands like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple already provide services that other businesses can utilise – AI, image recognition, voice recognition, chatbots, VR.

Only 2% of brands currently use the chatbot facility on Facebook Messenger (L2’s Intelligence Report) – 2017 will see more brands embracing this as an easy way to access chatbot technology, coupled with the fact that Facebook is a well-used, familiar platform that users are comfortable with makes it ideal.

 
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Audience

Topic: Real content by real people

Today

Crowdsourcing data

In the Train Line’s app the BusyBot will tell you which carriages have available space in them. When you're on the train, you’re asked if you've got any available space near you by completing the 2 question survey - BusyBot uses this data to show other travellers where there might be free spaces on the train.

This user-generated data and content is a great way of adding new services and enriching the user experience. It also allows customers to feel part of the brand and in more control – as well helping those finding that all important seat during rush hour!

Tomorrow

Real world experiences

People are going out less, preferring to spend time at home. Often their only form of communication with some friends and family is online.

There is a trend towards making the online experience much more realistic – who needs a ‘like’ when you can see your friends actual real-life expressions? Facebook started this with the Facebook Live platform, but these live videos are one-way and don’t feel very natural. This year we’re predicting there will be a step towards the next level – instead of ‘likes’ and one-way streams, there will be a tilt towards multi-party live video and a look to capture real-world reactions and emotions.

There will also be a trend towards interacting with our natural environment in 3D. Google has its new Project Tango, a platform for smartphones/tablets that will measure your surroundings with 3D tools; virtual objects and information will then appear on top of what you see. Microsoft is working on Paint 3D – although not quite ‘real-world’ it does allow users to create images that are much more true-to-life.

Technology

Topic: Humanising technology

Today

Alternative user interface

Technology is becoming more human with sight, hearing and touch interactions which appeals to an audience’s desire to interact with devices in a much more natural way.

This trend really started with Apple’s Siri and Google now, but the Amazon Echo and Google Home voice controlled devices really brought it to the forefront at the end of 2016.

We noticed other interactions are also on the rise such as Samsung’s eye tracking on their smartphones which lets the phone know if you’re looking at the screen, and Leap Motion’s gesture recognition (like Xbox Kinect but much more advanced) which is leading the way for how we may interact with our computers in the future through gestures and VR.

Tomorrow

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

There is a lot of hype around AI at the moment. It’s something that will get much bigger in 2017 as industry investment is expected to triple in 2017 ( Forrester).

There is already the beginnings of AI available to use for such things as image recognition – a big game player is Google’s Cloud Vision API which can help recognise logos, faces, landmarks and they are close to releasing their Jobs API which will learn how to match candidates with jobs.

AI can also be used to personalise content – from website recommendations to chatbot responses, which our Junior video and motion graphics editor Sam has recently written a blog about called ' Talking dogs, unity and the uncanny valley: how we created a canine chatbot interface.'

In this ever changing landscape, technology and consumer needs switch rapidly, so our ‘Today, Tomorrow’ report will be out each month to cover trends as they emerge, sign up for updates on when the next report is published.

In order to embrace the audiences’ needs many businesses have to go through transformation in some form or another – whether it’s their processes, perception of their market, or even their business model. In our sister-report ‘ Digital Disruptors’ we will look at some of our favourite business innovators each month and how they are shaking up their market.

Andrew Henning
Posted by Andrew Henning

Andrew is Chair of Apprenticeships for BIMA and he is the founder and CEO of Redweb. He has been in the design industry for over 25 years forming Redweb in 1997. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers. Today, Redweb has over 160 staff with a turnover of £12 million. The digital agency is proud of its Bournemouth location and ability to build an enviable client list including Cancer Research, Farrow & Ball, Department for Education, Home Office and Organix. Outside of the agency, he is a member of BIMA's Central Council and founder of the Digital Day initiative. Since 2013 the event has enabled over 10,000 school pupils to meet digital professionals whilst raising their awareness of digital careers. In Bournemouth he has created Digital Wave. A 1 day conference for young people with leading speakers from the digital industry. In 2016 over 1,000 young people attended. As Chair of the BIMA working group focused on Apprenticeships within digital, Henning's remit is to raise awareness of current schemes, dictate future policy and ensure with the new levy, that BIMA members are maximising their opportunities collectively.

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