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Predictions For The Future Of Customer Experience

Jen Cohen Crompton

In the realm of customer experience, today’s consumers are more informed, more collaborative, future of customer experienceand have higher expectations for retailers and lower thresholds for dealing with impersonal, unresponsive companies. Thanks to the Internet and social networks, everyone’s voice, positive or negative, can be heard and companies have the opportunity to provide a more diversified approach to reach their audiences. Within the next few years, this space will continually innovate and things that we never thought possible will become completely possible…and even the norm.

Here are ways the customer experience will be transformed.

1.  What you want to buy will never be out of stock

Smarter supply chains that factor buying behavior and other conditions, such as the weather, into their algorithms will make forecasting easier and will help retailers plan with improved accuracy. Because of the convergence of data, sensors, and predictive analytics in supply chain management, customers won’t experience the disappointment that comes with unavailable products. Also, digital disruption will remove the need for traditional means of assembling user data and will replace it with innovations such as in-store applications that monitor movement, point of service, store traffic management, and in-store promotion. Thanks to these changes in technology, we may never be disappointed by our favorite product being out-of-stock and we can avoid that uncomfortable duel for the ‘last one on the shelf.’

2.  Everything will be exactly what you want

From shoes to shirts to electronics – everything will have the opportunity to be completely customized. At CES 2014, Whirpool showed off some of their new products. They had dishwashers and microwaves with customizable skins making the not-so-attractive appliances appear as personalized pieces of art. And in the fashion world, individualize looks and styles are taking over and retailers are embracing individuality with styles and offerings (leaving cookie-cutter companies that promote one look losing ground). And honestly, if you want something completely unique, like a figurine of your favorite pet, 3D printing makes it possible. With some 3D printing options, you can create just about anything to be exactly as you want. From the 3D scanning photo booth that can create a blueprint of your dog (and print a 3D version) to creating custom products online and sending the specs to a 3D printer, just about everything is in reach. As the cost of the printers decline, these options will become more mainstreamed.

3.  Online purchases are delivered in 30 minutes…faster than a pizza

Could you really get your online purchase in less time than it takes the local pizzeria to deliver your Friday night dinner? Sounds like a dream, right? With last year’s news about the potential of Amazon drones dropping packages at your front door within 30 minutes, we were excited about the speed and opportunities of this service…but then we were quickly schooled on the reality of these flying vehicles and how they could impact the world on a larger scale. On one hand, there is actually a lot of air traffic – just with airplanes, there are between 25,000 and 27,000 flights taking off and landing every day. And on the other hand, drones can serve more purposes than just delivering consumer products. Either way, the concept of drones for daily use may still need some work to operate within regulations, but this in-the-works concept is something that could be a reality sooner than later, and a flying vehicle might get you that last minute delivery before you’ve even closed your laptop.

4.  “Can I tweet your order?”

Want a pizza? Go tweet your order. Need a new shirt? Tweet your style and size. With customer service fully transformed into a multi-level approach forcing companies to power phone lines and tweets, the future is now, and when you want to order something, picking up the phone or heading to a website isn’t the only option. Businesses such as restaurants and hyperlocally-focused services are taking to Twitter and text messaging to manage and respond to customer requests. Companies are using the omnichannel approach to bring convenience into the palms of customers and changing the experience to be as seamless as possible.

5.  Companies use people like you for product design

There is beauty in crowdsourcing and companies embracing and implementing this strategy seem to be reaping the benefits. Tesco, one of the world’s largest retailers, has been championing crowdsourcing and,earlier this year, its online community helped invent the world’s first socially-created wine. The product was shortlisted and the crowd proposed the branding. In an article posted on SAP’s Business Innovation site, Deola Laniyan, account director at Tesco’s social and PR agency, is quoted as saying, “Consumers now have an expectation that their voices will be heard, they want to be more involved in the process and this campaign answers that beautifully.” Other companies who have jumped on the crowdsourcing train with success include Vitamin Water, Doritos, and NetFlix.

6.  There’s something it in for you if you let your favorite brands get to know you

As consumers, we are pretty much walking data generators. From our loyalty cards that we swipe at the supermarket to our online accounts at retailers – we are blatantly sharing information about our habits to retailers who are using the intelligence to tailor their offerings and marketing messages. As a result, retailers will continue to collect, store and use data, which will result in two things – more of what we want and less of what we don’t want. As we continue to consume and reap the benefits of retailer data collection, we as consumers, will have to decide what we really want and determine if we appreciate the relevant marketing or want to pay a price to keep our data private.

7.  The weather, demand, availability, and YOU can make prices fluctuate by the minute

We all know that as oil prices increase, our pockets eventually feel the pain at the pump as we get less for our dollars. But we often expect this price change and are willing to pay to power our vehicles. So what about companies changing the prices of shovels during a snowstorm? This isn’t just merely an Economics 101 case of supply and demand, but now, with the ubiquity of connectivity, vendors are suddenly able to use algorithms to change the pricing of their goods and services at a moment’s notice. This works well for retailers who can dictate their prices and change in an instant, and it can actually be beneficial for consumers who are willing to pay that perfect price for that perfect product or service. It’s a personal demonstration of price equilibrium and we need to remember that in a networked economy, consumers have all the power.

8.  Shop, buy, and return: Automation takes over retail stores

Ever hear of the cupcake ATM? Or have you ever purchase something from the Best Buy Express vending machines? These hyped-up vending machines are examples of automated retail and fall into the category of self-service shopping, which is a popular way to provide convenience at places such as airports, malls, and resorts…and even the street corner in NYC. There are also supermarkets and other retailers adding automation to their in-store experience, which is allowing customers to check out sans a cashier and complete other transactions on their own. As these machines and automated practices become more connected and intelligent, the full customer experience, from purchase to service, could be automated to deliver a superior, self-serve customer experience.

9.  Keeping your personal information private may cost you

With the understanding that we create data all day long and offer it up to ecommerce companies, brick and mortar stores, mobile devices, and wearables tracking our athletic performance, there are some companies capitalizing on the trend of being privacy-friendly. For example, Mozilla, a presumed underdog in the browser market, suggested that it would allow its users to disable third-party tracking software altogether. And search engine DuckDuckGo promotes the same advantage – no tracking. So with all this data floating around and all these companies jumping at the chance to capture some, consumers will begin gravitating toward companies that offer privacy, even if it’s for a premium.

10.  In-store shopping becomes as intelligent as online shopping

With e-commerce, consumer behavior data is as easy to track as web analytics, which let retailers know exactly where a customer is coming from, what he or she is doing when they are on the site, what that same shopper purchased in the past…and even where they go after they leave the site. Thanks to the information online shoppers “give away,” ecommerce sites create experiences that use algorithms to make suggestions (to upsell and cross-sell) for product purchases. This same experience can be duplicated by offline retailers as they strive to make stores more intelligent and understand consumer behavior within a physical space. Bonobos, a men’s retailer, is taking on that challenge with their showcase stores. These 1000-square-foot storefronts give a customer the ability to touch and feel the products while an associate guides him through the shopping process, creating a personalized and exceptional customer experience. During this process, the store captures customer behavior and, through human interaction, suggests products and converts the opportunity to a sale. And, with the blending of offline and online data via social check-ins and apps like Foursquare’s Swarm, the store associate can become that much more informed before the initial conversation.

Omni-channel retailing is not about replicating a single experience across channels. It’s about optimizing each unique experience through a variety of channels. Learn more in this new insights report from ARC.

Get involved in the conversations on the Future of Business and read, watch and learn about how the customer experience will be impacted by technology, consumer needs, and data, and continue to transform.

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About Jen Cohen Crompton

Jen Cohen Crompton is a SAP Blogging Correspondent reporting on big data, cloud computing, enterprise mobility, analytics, sports and tech, and anything else innovation-related. When she's not blogging, she can be caught marketing, using social media and/or presenting at conferences around the world. Disclosure: Jen is being compensated by SAP to produce a series of articles on the innovation topics covered on this site. The opinions reflected here are her own.

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.

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About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at www.tempocreative.com. Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

Social Media Matters: 6 Content And Social Media Trend Predictions For 2016 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Julie Ellis

As 2015 winds down, it’s time to look forward to 2016 and explore the social media and content marketing trends that will impact marketing strategies over the next 15 months or so.

Some of the upcoming trends simply indicate an intensification of current trends, however others indicate that there are new things that will have a big impact in 2016.

Take a look at a few trends that should definitely factor in your planning for 2016.

1. SEO will focus more on social media platforms and less on search engines

Clearly Google is going nowhere. In fact, in 2016 Google’s word will still essentially be law when it comes to search engine optimization.

However, in 2016 there will be some changes in SEO. Many of these changes will be due to the fact that users are increasingly searching for products and services directly from websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

There are two reasons for this shift in customer habits:

  • Customers are relying more and more on customer comments, feedback, and reviews before making purchasing decisions. This means that they are most likely to search directly on platforms where they can find that information.
  • Customers who are seeking information about products and services feel that video- and image-based content is more trustworthy.

2. The need to optimize for mobile and touchscreens will intensify

Consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets for the following tasks at a sharply increasing rate:

  • Sending and receiving emails and messages
  • Making purchases
  • Researching products and services
  • Watching videos
  • Reading or writing reviews and comments
  • Obtaining driving directions and using navigation apps
  • Visiting news and entertainment websites
  • Using social media

Most marketers would be hard-pressed to look at this list and see any case for continuing to avoid mobile and touchscreen optimization. Yet, for some reason many companies still see mobile optimization as something that is nice to do, but not urgent.

This lack of a sense of urgency seemingly ignores the fact that more than 80% of the highest growing group of consumers indicate that it is highly important that retailers provide mobile apps that work well. According to the same study, nearly 90% of Millennials believe that there are a large number of websites that have not done a very good job of optimizing for mobile.

3. Content marketing will move to edgier social media platforms

Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat weren’t considered to be valid targets for mainstream content marketing efforts until now.

This is because they were considered to be too unproven and too “on the fringe” to warrant the time and marketing budget investments, when platforms such as Facebook and YouTube were so popular and had proven track records when it came to content marketing opportunity and success.

However, now that Instagram is enjoying such tremendous growth, and is opening up advertising opportunities to businesses beyond its brand partners, it (along with other platforms) will be seen as more and more viable in 2016.

4. Facebook will remain a strong player, but the demographic of the average user will age

In 2016, Facebook will likely remain the flagship social media website when it comes to sharing and promoting content, engaging with customers, and increasing Internet recognition.

However, it will become less and less possible to ignore the fact that younger consumers are moving away from the platform as their primary source of online social interaction and content consumption. Some companies may be able to maintain status quo for 2016 without feeling any negative impacts.

However, others may need to rethink their content marketing strategies for 2016 to take these shifts into account. Depending on their branding and the products or services that they offer, some companies may be able to profit from these changes by customizing the content that they promote on Facebook for an older demographic.

5. Content production must reflect quality and variety

  • Both B2B and B2C buyers value video based content over text based content.
  • While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them.
  • The great majority of these same consumers report that customized content is useful for them.
  • B2B customers prefer learning about products and services through content as opposed to paid advertising.
  • Consumers believe that videos are more trustworthy forms of content than text.

Here is a great infographic depicting the importance of video in content marketing efforts:
Small Business Video infographic

A final, very important thing to note when considering content trends for 2016 is the decreasing value of the keyword as a way of optimizing content. In fact, in an effort to crack down on keyword stuffing, Google’s optimization rules have been updated to to kick offending sites out of prime SERP positions.

6. Oculus Rift will create significant changes in customer engagement

Oculus Rift is not likely to offer much to marketers in 2016. After all, it isn’t expected to ship to consumers until the first quarter. However, what Oculus Rift will do is influence the decisions that marketers make when it comes to creating customer interaction.

For example, companies that have not yet embraced storytelling may want to make 2016 the year that they do just that, because later in 2016 Oculus Rift may be the platform that their competitors will be using to tell stories while giving consumers a 360-degree vantage point.

For a deeper dive on engaging with customers through storytelling, see Brand Storytelling: Where Humanity Takes Center Stage.

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About Julie Ellis

Julie Ellis – marketer and professional blogger, writes about social media, education, self-improvement, marketing and psychology. To contact Julie follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Running Future Cities on Blockchain

Dan Wellers , Raimund Gross and Ulrich Scholl

Building on the Blockchain Framework

Some experts say these seemingly far-future speculations about the possibilities of combining technologies using blockchain are actually both inevitable and imminent:


Democratizing design and manufacturing by enabling individuals and small businesses to buy, sell, share, and digitally remix products affordably while protecting intellectual property rights.
Decentralizing warehousing and logistics by combining autonomous vehicles, 3D printers, and smart contracts to optimize delivery of products and materials, and even to create them on site as needed.
Distributing commerce by mixing virtual reality, 3D scanning and printing, self-driving vehicles, and artificial intelligence into immersive, personalized, on-demand shopping experiences that still protect buyers’ personal and proprietary data.

The City of the Future

Imagine that every agency, building, office, residence, and piece of infrastructure has an entry on a blockchain used as a city’s digital ledger. This “digital twin” could transform the delivery of city services.

For example:

  • Property owners could easily monetize assets by renting rooms, selling solar power back to the grid, and more.
  • Utilities could use customer data and AIs to make energy-saving recommendations, and smart contracts to automatically adjust power usage for greater efficiency.
  • Embedded sensors could sense problems (like a water main break) and alert an AI to send a technician with the right parts, tools, and training.
  • Autonomous vehicles could route themselves to open parking spaces or charging stations, and pay for services safely and automatically.
  • Cities could improve traffic monitoring and routing, saving commuters’ time and fuel while increasing productivity.

Every interaction would be transparent and verifiable, providing more data to analyze for future improvements.


Welcome to the Next Industrial Revolution

When exponential technologies intersect and combine, transformation happens on a massive scale. It’s time to start thinking through outcomes in a disciplined, proactive way to prepare for a future we’re only just beginning to imagine.

Download the executive brief Running Future Cities on Blockchain.


Read the full article Pulling Cities Into The Future With Blockchain

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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Raimund Gross

About Raimund Gross

Raimund Gross is a solution architect and futurist at SAP Innovation Center Network, where he evaluates emerging technologies and trends to address the challenges of businesses arising from digitization. He is currently evaluating the impact of blockchain for SAP and our enterprise customers.

Ulrich Scholl

About Ulrich Scholl

Ulrich Scholl is Vice President of Industry Cloud and Custom Development at SAP. In this role, Ulrich discovers and implements best practices to help further the understanding and adoption of the SAP portfolio of industry cloud innovations.

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4 Traits Set Digital Leaders Apart From 97% Of The Competition

Vivek Bapat

Like the classic parable of the blind man and the elephant, it seems everyone has a unique take on digital transformation. Some equate digital transformation with emerging technologies, placing their bets on as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Others see it as a way to increase efficiencies and change business processes to accelerate product to market. Some others think of it is a means of strategic differentiation, innovating new business models for serving and engaging their customers. Despite the range of viewpoints, many businesses are still challenged with pragmatically evolving digital in ways that are meaningful, industry-disruptive, and market-leading.

According to a recent study of more than 3,000 senior executives across 17 countries and regions, only a paltry three percent of businesses worldwide have successfully completed enterprise-wide digital transformation initiatives, even though 84% of C-level executives ranks such efforts as “critically important” to the fundamental sustenance of their business.

The most comprehensive global study of its kind, the SAP Center for Business Insight report “SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart,” in collaboration with Oxford Economics, identified the challenges, opportunities, value, and key technologies driving digital transformation. The findings specifically analyzed the performance of “digital leaders” – those who are connecting people, things, and businesses more intelligently, more effectively, and creating punctuated change faster than their less advanced rivals.

After analyzing the data, it was eye-opening to see that only three percent of companies (top 100) are successfully realizing their full potential through digital transformation. However, even more remarkable was that these leaders have four fundamental traits in common, regardless of their region of operation, their size, their organizational structure, or their industry.

We distilled these traits in the hope that others in the early stages of transformation or that are still struggling to find their bearings can embrace these principles in order to succeed. Ultimately I see these leaders as true ambidextrous organizations, managing evolutionary and revolutionary change simultaneously, willing to embrace innovation – not just on the edges of their business, but firmly into their core.

Here are the four traits that set these leaders apart from the rest:

Trait #1: They see digital transformation as truly transformational

An overwhelming majority (96%) of digital leaders view digital transformation as a core business goal that requires a unified digital mindset across the entire enterprise. But instead of allowing individual functions to change at their own pace, digital leaders prefer to evolve the organization to help ensure the success of their digital strategies.

The study found that 56% of these businesses regularly shift their organizational structure, which includes processes, partners, suppliers, and customers, compared to 10% of remaining companies. Plus, 70% actively bring lines of business together through cross-functional processes and technologies.

By creating a firm foundation for transformation, digital leaders are further widening the gap between themselves and their less advanced competitors as they innovate business models that can mitigate emerging risks and seize new opportunities quickly.

Trait #2: They focus on transforming customer-facing functions first

Although most companies believe technology, the pace of change, and growing global competition are the key global trends that will affect everything for years to come, digital leaders are expanding their frame of mind to consider the influence of customer empowerment. Executives who build a momentum of breakthrough innovation and industry transformation are the ones that are moving beyond the high stakes of the market to the activation of complete, end-to-end customer experiences.

In fact, 92% of digital leaders have established sophisticated digital transformation strategies and processes to drive transformational change in customer satisfaction and engagement, compared to 22% of their less mature counterparts. As a result, 70% have realized significant or transformational value from these efforts.

Trait #3: They create a virtuous cycle of digital talent

There’s little doubt that the competition for qualified talent is fierce. But for nearly three-quarters of companies that demonstrate digital-transformation leadership, it is easier to attract and retain talent because they are five times more likely to leverage digitization to change their talent management efforts.

The impact of their efforts goes beyond empowering recruiters to identify best-fit candidates, highlight risk factors and hiring errors, and predict long-term talent needs. Nearly half (48%) of digital leaders understand that they must invest heavily in the development of digital skills and technology to drive revenue, retain productive employees, and create new roles to keep up with their digital maturity over the next two years, compared to 30% of all surveyed executives.

Trait #4: They invest in next-generation technology using a bimodal architecture

A couple years ago, Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of research, observed that “CIOs can’t transform their old IT organization into a digital startup, but they can turn it into a bi-modal IT organization. Forty-five percent of CIOs state they currently have a fast mode of operation, and we predict that 75% of IT organizations will be bimodal in some way by 2017.”

Based on the results of the SAP Center for Business Insight study, Sondergaard’s prediction was spot on. As digital leaders dive into advanced technologies, 72% are using a digital twin of the conventional IT organization to operate efficiently without disruption while refining innovative scenarios to resolve business challenges and integrate them to stay ahead of the competition. Unfortunately, only 30% of less advanced businesses embrace this view.

Working within this bimodal architecture is emboldening digital leaders to take on incredibly progressive technology. For example, the study found that 50% of these firms are using artificial intelligence and machine learning, compared to seven percent of all respondents. They are also leading the adoption curve of Big Data solutions and analytics (94% vs. 60%) and the Internet of Things (76% vs. 52%).

Digital leadership is a practice of balance, not pure digitization

Most executives understand that digital transformation is a critical driver of revenue growth, profitability, and business expansion. However, as digital leaders are proving, digital strategies must deliver a balance of organizational flexibility, forward-looking technology adoption, and bold change. And clearly, this approach is paying dividends for them. They are growing market share, increasing customer satisfaction, improving employee engagement, and, perhaps more important, achieving more profitability than ever before.

For any company looking to catch up to digital leaders, the conversation around digital transformation needs to change immediately to combat three deadly sins: Stop investing in one-off, isolated projects hidden in a single organization. Stop viewing IT as an enabler instead of a strategic partner. Stop walling off the rest of the business from siloed digital successes.

As our study shows, companies that treat their digital transformation as an all-encompassing, all-sharing, and all-knowing business imperative will be the ones that disrupt the competitive landscape and stay ahead of a constantly evolving economy.

Follow me on twitter @vivek_bapat 

For more insight on digital leaders, check out the SAP Center for Business Insight report, conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics,SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart.”

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About Vivek Bapat

Vivek Bapat is the Senior Vice President, Global Head of Marketing Strategy and Thought Leadership, at SAP. He leads SAP's Global Marketing Strategy, Messaging, Positioning and related Thought Leadership initiatives.