More and more of our work is helping businesses deal with digital transformation. The rise of mobile and social seem to be convincing C level execs that digital is no longer something that can be quarantined in a division.
But most find it hard to work out where the drive and management should come from. Marketing seems like the obvious place to start in many businesses but often this restricts the effectiveness.
For example is Twitter a marketing channel or is it customer service? Clearly it can be both, but we see this skill will migrate from Soho ad agencies to call centres in Fife. And another hot issue; given the use of customer data in smart programmatic buying, who drives that area? This is an interesting look at how clients are moving their business out of their traditional agencies and either taking it inhouse or using specialists.
Many studies point out the potential conflict between CMO and CIOs and in many cases the dead hand of IT frightens Boards; who want to be the person who over rules IT when your system crashes or you get hacked. In the US the firing of the Target CEO after their data hack made people realize the responsibility lies with the top people. In his excellent keynote at the Dots conference Russell Davies told us that the IT people at GDS now report to the Digital team.
Given the broad impact of digital on business and the potential for data to be transformational (McKinsey say that data driven companies are 5% more productive and 6% more profitable than others) the answer is to get the CMO and CIO working in partnership.
Done properly digital is a core business function rather than a marketing channel and more and more brands are balancing getting outside advice with building internal skills.
Fix reader James Haycock of adaptive labs was one of the many great speakers at the excellent Dots conference this week and made a great point by applying the Dumb Pipe theory (that, for many, describes the future of Mobile Network Operators) to Financial services. We have talked here a lot about the energy and momentum in FinTech and this analogy sums up both the opportunity for startups and the danger for incumbents.
A real life example is our 14 year old who now has an Osper card – a new start up that gives him a debit card, funded by me transferring money into it. So my bank is the dumb pipe. The app we both have shows where the money is being spent. A really simple, elegant service – with no significant involvement from a ‘real’ bank. When will he go open a ‘proper’ bank account? Who knows.
Thinking about MNOs, there is one huge opportunity that seems untapped – so far.. With the appstore discovery so flawed, what could an operator do to help their customers find apps that they may find useful? Why don’t they build a permission based dialogue with smartphone customers around the latest and greatest apps? Before the iPhone and the Appstore, getting an operator (or a device manufacturer) to feature your mobile content or service was the holy grail for any developer.
A simple authoritative email or MMS that offered help on discovery – based on learning what apps you already had – would be really useful for customers.
And given how much money is spent chasing app downloads this could be really profitable too. Happy to share our thinking with our MNO readers.
Looking at how other markets approach appstores is interesting and suggests there are alternatives to simply hoping the Appstore and Google Play will sort themselves out. This in depth look at Chinese Appstores is a good read.
O2O Retail – Online to offline
With Amazon offering payment solutions to real world retailers, the line between online and offline commerce is blurring. Fold in click and collect and the potential for beacons to bridge the gap between a smartphone and a store and the line starts to disappear.
This article predicts Amazons secret plans – but if you get past the slight hysteria it’s a good take on where retail may be going. And the idea of online to offline is also being taken seriously in China.
As Alibaba prepare for their IPO – possibly as soon as next week – which is expected to raise c$20bn making it the biggest ever IPO (eclipsing Facebook whose $16bn was the previous record) their competitors are trying to build their ecommerce revenues.
Baidu and Tencent have partnered with Dalian Wanda – the Westfield of China with around 100 malls and resorts – to focus on O2O; online to offline. This deal also helps them build their payments business.
All the big players (including GAFA & BAT) see that commerce has two huge advantages – you take a revenue share and you get the data on the purchase.
Lots of noise, but little insight in the huge numbers of stories speculating on what might get announced next week.
The Stratchery thinking on iPhone pricing is worth a read though. Where we use the luxury car market as an analogy he used Handbags and makes some good points on how Apple can preserve their top end positioning and maximise their revenue. We still suspect that Beats budget phone would be the killer and one more thing.
The other theme we think is interesting is whether or whether not Apple embrace NFC and make a big move into payments. Our Anchors theory means we believe Apple need to turn Passbook into a full wallet, so useful no-one will ever move to Android
This piece points up the possibilities, but we wonder whether low energy Bluetooth means NFC is unnecessary? Or, picking up on our point about the value of payments above, does the widespread base of NFC readers in real world locations makes it viable. Either way Apple will dictate the future of NFC; if it makes the cut in the new iPhone it’s the definitive platform for payments. If it doesn’t, it’s just another dead TLA
The Amazon Fire TV box is now available in the UK . Walter Mossberg – the don of consumer tech in the US thought the speech recognition was the killer app – although it only works on Amazon content for now. It probably isn’t quite as revolutionary as the ChromeCast but it’s a great way to get more usage of Amazon movies etc. Costing £79 it’s another must buy if you have any interest in the future of TV.
Autoplay videos on Facebook are getting some heat from Money Saving Expert, as they think they are driving up users phone bills.
Another good session at Dots looked at how YouTube is redefining fame – and film of a make up artist from Norfolk drawing huge crowds in Covent Garden reinforced just what a parallel universe YouTube is for many. This is a good article on the YouTube channel Awesomeness which was bought by Dreamworks for $100m and the business model emerging for Video
Can programmatic work for branding? The smart people at Infectious think so. We agree but the way creative is done needs to evolve. If Ikea can computer generate 75% of their catalogue can’t brands use tech to create and modify creative in real time?
More research showing a rosy future for streaming music and hence great potential for Beats. We can’t believe there won’t be some new Beats product next week. Could a Beats smartwatch have music as its core feature?
Good look at BlinkBox - the Tesco digital entertainment play. Will the new regime stick with this?
Finally – the next episode of the RCKSCK Friday Edit goes out tomorrow. This new project is designed as a tool for Urban Explorers and the email Edit is the first service, with an app in development.
The idea is to help people get the most out of whichever city they are in, with tips on great places to eat, drink and shop, based on their likes and dislikes.
As we get the tech sorted, the Edit is a simplified service focused on London.