Creating Consumer Connections: The Omni-Channel Lava Lamp
Posted by Vince Cavasin at 7:56 PM
One of the major topics of conversation in our recent Creating Consumer Connections executive roundtable was related to the emergence of a tablet channel--independent from the mobile channel that many companies have viewed tablets as a part of since their introduction. This is unsurprising given tablet adoption trends: according to a recent Gartner report, Tablet shipments are growing at a CAGR of 32% vs. mobile phone growth of only 4%.
While the history of digital technologies is full of similar channel formations, it's equally full of channel combinations--a bit like the wax blobs in a lava lamp, which form, separate, and reform constantly. Okay, maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but you get my drift. :^)
In today's "omni-channel" world we find that the rate of emergence of distinct new channels is equaled only by the rate of innovation in combining them. Some examples:
- Social is now its own channel, distinct from but strongly affiliated with online--and agnostic of physical medium, even migrating into physical channels via wearable devices (see below), and of course apps like foursquare, yelp, and meetup.
- Physical channels are converging with digital channels in ways that range from obvious (QR codes) to innovative. At the innovative end are efforts such as Tesco's virtual stores and Diageo's Brazil pilot of technology that ties a unique, personalized online message to a bottle of booze.
- The rapidly evolving wearable channels which currently don't even carry outbound messages but are more about brand experience and gathering data to create deeper customer connections. Think about Nike's Fuel Band, which Mark Parker hints is just the tip of the iceberg of ways Nike will be digitally interacting with their customers in the future. Customers love its functional and community aspects; Nike loves the customer insights it gives them and the intimacy it creates--both of which will only increase as the device evolves.
- The embedded channels, which hold perhaps even greater potential for gathering marketing data. For example, the potential marketing value of automotive telemetry--via which terabytes of information per day are already transmitted from cars to their makers-- is staggering and auto makers have barely scratched its surface (for more on this, see this article in our latest issue of Art & Science).
While this is far from a comprehensive list, even more channels and more interesting convergences are on the way. Google Glasses, for example, are expected to be released by the end of this year. These clearly represent the most advanced wearable channel, and perhaps the most impressive example yet of convergence--of the physical world with multi-way communication, search, storage, reality augmentation, and location awareness--all of which have significant business value potential on their own. It seems almost inevitable that wearable "experience enhancing devices" like google glasses will soon be seen as a "distinct channel" for marketing and selling purposes.
In my next post I'll further explore the omni-channel concept, and some key attributes of omni-channel organizations. In the mean time, what current and emerging channels are important to your business? In what ways are you using them and what kind of value are you realizing? Please post a comment and join the conversation.Image credit