To Evolve Customer Experiences in 2018, Focus on the Three E’s

12/14/2017 12:54 pm ET

By Tom Edwards, Chief Digital Officer at Agency at Epsilon

As we head into 2018, it’s more important than ever to understand how consumers are interacting with existing and emerging technologies to better suit their needs. Marketers should be examining every new technology and trend through a behavioral lens to understand why consumers gravitate to specific technologies and how those technologies establish and amplify new behaviors.

For example, our proprietary research across Gen Zers, Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers found 79% of Gen Zers and 90% of Millennials feel virtual assistants should have a voice and visual option. But, surprisingly, Gen Xers and Boomers are the most excited to have AI predict their needs. It’s important for marketers to consider that we are shifting from consumer centric marketing to also considering system based marketing where we will have to influence algorithms in addition to people.

For example, our proprietary research across Gen Zers, Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers found 79% of Gen Zers and 90% of Millennials feel virtual assistants should have a voice and visual option.

Some marketers are already doing this well, such as Fandango whose Amazon Alexa experience is optimized for voice + visual. For others looking to make stronger connections with consumers, focusing on the guidelines of the three E’s—Empower, Enhance, Environment, which drive the Evolution of experience—will help them find success in the new year.

EMPOWER: trends that allow consumers to own, create, and democratize experiences.

Camera: The New Platform

Empowering consumers to create and share within a brand experience is going to be incredibly important moving into 2018 and beyond. If you haven’t begun to explore opportunities, the best way to start is to determine the capabilities—AR frames, filters, interactive apps, and physical triggers—that will integrate into your brand’s message and the data sets to enhance them. For brands looking to capitalize on the popularity of eSports with a Gen Z target, it would be beneficial to create an AR frame experience to showcase their support for their favorite eSports team as well as inject real time results into the frames.

Continued Evolution of Social Messaging

While social messaging apps began as a way to connect and converse with friends and family, the interaction model with these apps has evolved to take a more prominent role in our lives. Businesses and third parties are now able to integrate themselves into the user experience; creating an entirely new consumer portal. This trend will continue, especially as the likes of iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Slack, WeChat, and more attempt to consolidate services through API’s and downloadable ‘mini-apps’.

Enhance: trends that enhance daily life activities and responsibilities through intelligent systems and proxies.  

Computer Vision

Technology that will greatly enhance our information processing ability, and computer vision technologies, specifically, are going to play a much greater role in how we access and consume information in the future. Our research shows that Gen Z & Millennials want to use their cameras to discover more about the world around them and Computer Vision’s ability to identify key elements from the real world through the camera’s lens, combined with a virtual assistant (think Google Lens) will open up new possibilities to connect with consumers.

This is an underlying aspect to the camera as a platform, which will be a catalyst to consumer empowerment.

Mobile Disruption

Mobile user experience is ripe for disruption as we have essentially used the same native app centric interface since 2008. With the rapid adoption of AI and virtual assistants, we should see marketers move toward bundling of services instead of stand-alone, native applications. We’re already seeing this with some of the consolidation of functions that used to be separate app experiences in the home IOT marketplace.

Google’s new experimental Fuschia operating system as well as Apple’s recent patent on a bot-to-bot interface show hints towards a mobile future built on services vs. native applications.

Environment: trends that lead to the frictionless connection between physical and digital experiences, reshaping our environment

Shared Synthetic Realities

Placed in major tourist spots around the world, Snap used iconic works of art from Jeff Koons that were only visible via Snapchat. Moving into 2018, more and more artists will be featured through this platform, and augmented art will become prevalent around the world. It may not seem like a huge deal, but the idea that all users on this platform can see the same digital installations is one of the core building blocks to a shared synthetic reality. What starts with art will make its way into many other facets of our lives. The convergence of location data, computer vision, AI and AR is going to redefine how consumers will interact with the physical world and give rise to new virtual economies.

System-Based Marketing

Consumer interactions are slowly beginning to shift from person-to-person to bot-to-bot; it’s an inevitable aspect of the introduction of AI and other new technology. Companies such as Apple are making this go from theory to reality as they recently patented a technology interface that supports bot-to-bot communication.  As such, marketers will fundamentally need to transition strategies from pure consumer-centric tactics to those focusing on algorithms and systems that serve as proxies for consumers.

Ultimately, the convergence of the three E’s results in an evolution of experience that will redefine our reality.

It’s imperative that marketers adjust to the reality that they will be marketing directly to the consumer, but also to adapt and understand how to influence algorithms via system-based marketing. Technological advancements are only going to keep evolving, adapting and becoming increasingly intelligent. It’s up to us to understand their most effective and most engaging uses in order to find the intersection between consumers and technology.

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