This year, brands have taken big steps towards digital. But they need to think in giant leaps in 2014. Digital technologies are advancing at an exponential rate and digital needs to be at the heart of businesses to ensure brands meet the needs of tomorrow’s consumer. It’s not just about being ready for today, but thinking about the next technology that is going to capture consumers’ imagination and taking the necessary action to gain a presence in this space.
Consumers are no longer passive recipients of branded communications; they are far more discerning and seek meaningful experiences that truly connect to their daily lives. As more devices become connected, consumers are finding new ways to interact with brands. These channels need to be optimised and used to engage with consumers in the most relevant way. Yet, this approach requires businesses to rethink their business models to place digital at the core, by adopting the right infrastructure to react to the changing digital world.
Overhauling an entire business model can seem daunting, but this year there are a number of brands who have already shown the world that embedding digital at the core works. Taking charge of emerging technologies is paramount to ensure brands reflect consumers’ changing needs. Recco has shown impressive innovation by putting tech within its products for rescue teams to find buried avalanche victims. Morrisons has begun to adopt digital change but it is late in the making – it took over 10 years to launch an online grocery delivery service despite customers demanding it and now it has to play an unenviable game of catch-up. We know making this change is hard to do, which is why brands need to consider incubating teams to deliver some change while the business continues. Otherwise it is very hard to change. Barclays made the step with Pingit by championing a small digital change that brought swift and easy money transfers to its customers.
Preparing for tomorrow starts with getting it right now. Today’s brands need to make digital innovation a higher priority, or more ingenious minds will capture tomorrow’s wealth. When companies institutionalise digital innovation they’re more likely to generate new products, services, and customer experiences.
So what’s set to change in 2014 and how can brands ready themselves for the next level of digital? We will see more and more brands outside the tech sphere develop their own consumer electronics as an effective way to keep consumers close. We’ve already seen brands take tech into their own hands, with Tesco’s Hudl and Argos’ MyTablet. Nissan Europe unveiled its own new smart watch for Nissan Nismo drivers. It syncs to a person’s mobile phone and to the car to provide data on its performance in real-time.
In 2014 digital should become less siloed to the marketing department; it needs to be at the heart of the business and that means employing this expertise at leadership level. Digital roles are beginning to come out of the shadows. Digital boss at M&S, Laura Wade-Gery, argued recently that without champions for digital investment at the highest level, the boardrooms of multichannel retailers may not be “sufficiently digitally literate”. Argos’ recent appointment of former Amazon exec Bertrand Bodson as digital director highlights the move to help steer the retailer’s bid to be a digital-led retailer. The roles of the CIO and CTO in unison, or indeed the digital savvy COO, will become increasingly valuable to businesses, in leading digital developments. As these new infrastructures become more widely embedded within the leadership, we’ll see true changes to businesses outside and in, that truly reflect digital change of the future.
Brands need to stop what they’re doing and look at their business model and their channels. A new culture of digital and exciting technology must transcend top-down and become institutional. If it’s not looking to the future with digital embedded across all facets of the organisation then let the lengthy game of playing catch-up begin. And winning may not be an option unless digital change happens.
We are The BIO Agency - we are Digital Change Agents™ with expertise and experience in helping brands to take advantage of the digital era. The BIO Agency believes that digital shouldn’t just be incorporated into an existing, out-dated model. We ideate the best way for consumers to connect to brands and then create these solutions from the ground up.
2014 Prediction in five words
Change to protect the future
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