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July 25, 2012

Digital goes pervasive - are you following?

Posted by Girish A. R. (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:39 AM

The game of information empowerment is at half-time now. The first half clearly was about organizing information and democratizing access. What a game that was - the world wide web is almost a zetta byte now!

Game on for the second half - the action now is around the ability to serve up relevant information in bite-sized chunks. Something that aids human attention and not burden it.  So, if you see your favorite news reader app 'learn' your reading habits and bring up content that you invariably like  - you are already experiencing what I'm talking about. And, it's not just about the digital world. 

Today's digital consumers implicitly expect the combination of tactile and information experiences. (Ever found yourself in a big box store looking up your iPhone for more information about something you are considering buying?) So, how do you go about designing such experiences with empathy for human attention (more so the lack of) ? Simple. By letting the user focus on the task at hand, and getting the information appliance to be aware of the context. Going back to the big box, the ideal case would be for my iPhone to anticipate my information needs based on my shopping context. Without a need for me to  twiddle thumbs.

So, when we tried our hands at such an experiment in a nearly 100,000 square feet supermarket, we learnt a few things. And more. Chatter from over a thousand discreet wireless sensors on shopping carts, shelves and displays in the store began to make sense. These in-store digital footprints offered an unprecedented view of the sales funnel. Merchandise displays that attract highest footfall, ones that deliver highest conversions, locations that offer distinct advantage for new product launches, category adjacencies that work best - the list goes on. And an app on my phone that lets me check-in to my shopping cart. In guided sales mode, it brings up just the three things that are in my vicinity from my long shopping list. And brings up the next four anticipating my next stop. And offers me a personalized coupon on that new brand of cheerios right in front of me. 

Move over cost per click - we can now do cost per conversion! This is not only getting better than digital, but is also going to be much bigger - Wal-Mart alone attracts a billion footfalls every month!

Pervasive computing meets big data - and this is just the beginning. What's your story?

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