Collaboration and activation: the nub of the merger of physical and digital retail

Last week I visited Melbourne Spring Fashion Week as a guest of IBM and the City of Melbourne.

City of Melbourne’s over-arching vision for the annual Melbourne Spring Fashion Week is to position Melbourne as Australia’s premier fashion destination, and have a real economic impact by driving increased sales for retailers in the city.

MSFW

In partnering with IBM for the second year the intention was to extend the impact of the event beyond the week and to drive ticket sales and in turn sales by tapping the social currency of influencers.

Melbourne Spring Fashion Week is unusual in fashion shows in that everything on the runways can be bought at stores in the city. This contrasts to the traditional role of fashion shows as breaking new fashion, which may not be available for many months after it is launched.

Melbourne Spring Fashion Week used IBM Social Media Analytics on Twitter and Instagram to uncover the top 50 relevant fashion influencers, used Watson Personality Insights to work out how best to approach them, and invited them to be MSFW “insiders”, asking them what content would be most useful to them.

Ticket sales have been considerably higher than last year, with 4 of the events sold out.

The initiative is particularly interesting in showing how social analytics and engagement can help drive shoppers into shopping centers and physical stores.

While individual stores can do a great deal to merge their digital, social and physical engagement, the real power comes in bringing people to a shopping center or area, or even an entire city center.

All shopping is becoming social. Retail strategies for merging physical and digital are best envisaged and implemented on a large scale, tapping collaboration and activating buyers.

Image credit: Eva Rinaldi

The virtual agent of the future: Real-time photo-realistic human faces that bridge the human/ machine divide

I recently gave a series of opening keynotes on The Future of Customer Experience as part of a roadshow for omnichannel customer experience platform provider Genesys, which is running a global series of events for their lead customers, which includes organizations such as News Limited, Vodafone, Western Union, and the Australian Taxation Office.

The central theme of my keynotes was the boundaries and relationship between humans and machines in customer experience.

Today, extraordinary insights from data and analytics enable us to address individual’s unique preferences to an unprecedented degree.

Yet the emotion, empathy and engagement of humans cannot be replaced – we all seek personal connection and a real sense of caring.
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Launch of Creating the Future of PR – shaping an exceptional future for the industry

Advanced Human Technologies Group has just launched Creating the Future of PR, a publication that looks at how the Public Relations industry can create an exceptional future for itself and its clients in a fast-changing world.
CFoPRfront_500
In my article Join Us in Creating the Future of PR I frame the context for the launch of the publication:

The fundamental capabilities of PR professionals are more relevant than ever in our intensely networked world. Arguably, PR should be at the center of the marketing universe, since it is better able than any other discipline to deal with a world driven by relationships, fueled by connectivity, social, mobile, and power shifting to the individual.

The big question is: will the PR industry seize the immense opportunity before it?

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Consumer expectations continue to rise: advocacy reduces, antagonism rises, but trust enables value creation

The latest results from IBM’s annual Smarter Consumer Study provide interesting insights.

If consumers are smarter, they are expressing it with not just increased expectations, but an increasingly active expression of their displeasure if expectations are not met.

The following chart, provided to me by IBM in response to a request for more detailed information, shows that in all major countries advocates – those who actively advocate for their primary retailer – have decreased, while antagonists – those who would actively discredit their retailer – have increased.

IBM_advocates_antagonists
Source: IBM
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A taxonomy of branded content and its role in the future of media

Immediately after my opening keynote on Creating the Future of News at INMA World Congress in New York last week was a very interesting plenary session from Neil Zuckerman of Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on branded content in the future of media, drawing on a recent multi-country study they have done. I had already emphasized the importance of branded content in my keynote, so it was a great segue into his detailed analysis.

Zuckerman began by running through the severe challenges for the news industry, going on to highlight branded content as the next source of growth for the industry. Below are a few slides from his excellent presenatation.

BCG sees branded content growing at a 21% rate over the next 5 years. I believe it is likely to grow faster than this.
Branded_content_BCG_1_500Source: Boston Consulting Group
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Keynote slides: Creating the Future of News

Tomorrow I am giving the opening keynote at International News Media Association (INMA) World Congress in New York.

Over 400 senior news executives from 45 countries are gathering to gain insights into the leading edge and path forward for news organizations globally.

My keynote provides a highly positive perspective on the extraordinary opportunities for the news industry. I am currently refocusing on the future of news and media, and will be sharing a lot more on this topic during this year.

For now, here are the slides to my keynote. As always, note that my slides are designed to accompany my keynote and not to stand alone, and also contain many videos that do not show in the slides below. However they may still be of interest to people who are not attending my keynote.

Can Facebook-informed algorithms know you better than your mother?

This morning I was interviewed on the national breakfast program Sunrise about whether algorithms can assess our personality better than those who are closest to us.

Click on the image below to view the segment.

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The segment described some just-released research titled Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which says:

This study compares the accuracy of personality judgment—a ubiquitous and important social-cognitive activity—between computer models and humans. Using several criteria, we show that computers’ judgments of people’s personalities based on their digital footprints are more accurate and valid than judgments made by their close others or acquaintances (friends, family, spouse, colleagues, etc.). Our findings highlight that people’s personalities can be predicted automatically and without involving human social-cognitive skills.

The personality-assessment algorithm was solely based on Facebook likes made by participants, with results compared to the assessments of people who know them well. As little as 150 likes was sufficient to provide a more accurate personality assessment than a family member such as a parent, while 300 likes enabled a better assessment than a spouse.

What was perhaps more interesting was the claim that “computer personality judgments have higher external validity when predicting life outcomes such as substance use, political attitudes, and physical health; for some outcomes, they even outperform the self-rated personality scores.”

The potential implications are profound. Article co-author Wu Youyou said “In this context, the human-computer interactions depicted in science fiction films such as ‘Her’ seem to be within our reach.”

Being able to interact with people in a way tailored to their personalities and designed to generate particular responses is certainly a fair way beyond being able to assess personalities accurately, but we are rapidly heading in that direction.

These findings are unlikely to give pause to people sharing their lives – and personalities – on social media, but we absolutely need to be aware quite how deep the insights about ourselves we are sharing in our everyday online behaviors.

Agencies must adapt to a marketing world based on open systems

John Winsor, CEO of crowdsourcing-based advertising agency Victors & Spoils and Chief Innovation Officer at global marketing conglomerate Havas, has long been an innovator and provocateur in agency world.

He gave the keynote at the Future of Crowdsourcing Summit I ran in San Francisco and Sydney in 2010, and his agency was featured as a case study of crowd business models in my book Getting Results From Crowds.

John has just published an excellent article on HBR Blogs titled The Future of Marketing, as Seen at Cannes Lions.
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How will TV and digital video converge and who will take the bulk of the value?

While news-on-paper is on the way out, it appears to be quite a different story for TV. The TV industry globally is challenged in a variety of ways, however revenues in the US remain resilient, as shown in this chart.

Luma_TV_spend
Source: LUMA’s The Future of (Digital) TV

Digital video has exploded over the last 8 years however that has, in the main, being a complement to TV, with TV viewing eroding surprisingly slowly compared to earlier forecasts.
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Will the Respect Network enable us to take back control of our data and our lives?

Yesterday I attended the Sydney launch event of the Respect Network, an initiative designed to allow individuals to own and take control of their data.

They played this video, narrated by John Hurt, who starred in the film 1984. Apparently American audiences have thought this clip to be highly controversial, however it seems to provide a reasonable view of how things are.

Take Back Control from Respect Network on Vimeo.

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