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March 10, 2014

Understanding Digital Customers

Posted by Puneet Gupta (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:39 AM

Digital Experiences in Retail [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjOoaiKlh9U]

One of the most popular action movies of the late 1980s was Robocop. I was thinking about it recently because they've recently released a remake of what has become a sci-fi classic. The half-robot, half-man would interrupt crimes in progress and tell the thief, without a whiff of emotion: "Dead or alive, you're coming with me. Thank you for your cooperation." Part of the fun of the movie was to see Robocop face criminals so resolutely.

Sometimes I recall Robocop when I encounter a salesman at a favorite department store. I wonder to myself if he is indeed half robot and doesn't display the slightest effort to try to get to know my fashion preferences. Therein lies the challenge of today's enterprises what are armed with better tools and more sophisticated technology than ever before. Despite those tools, do they risk distancing themselves for the consumer rather than creating closer connections to them?

Some of the big online retailers have caught on. They're creating their own bricks-and-mortar experience on tablets for the very reason that traditional retailers have become Robocops of sort, plodding around their sales floors and pushing merchandise without making lasting connections to the customer. Technology works best when consumers are enabled with powerful tools that let them make decisions and see for themselves the different options before them.

Did you know, for example, that 84 percent of consumers around the world say they trust recommendations from friends and family as the best and most accurate source of information about products? According to a Wharton study, that's up from 78 percent in 2007. Clearly we can thank the rise in popularity of various social networks. But according to the data, simply throwing a page up on a social network isn't enough. Enterprises need to know what they are about and what moves customers to them in the first place.

If you haven't already seen the results of our work with the European Business Awards, I urge you to check them out. We partnered with the EBAs as a way to detect what went into creating a winning global enterprise. One of the things we discovered was that technology spending and development was traditionally viewed against a backdrop of efficiency. Companies used to assume that you could have technology or you could be more efficient and that they couldn't compliment each other. The EBAs showed us how technology actually makes organizations more efficient by focusing their missions and cutting excess spending.

That's why you're starting to see large retailers concentrate on Big Data - the kind that allows them to drill down into consumer expectations. They can know where to focus their activities with the greatest results. One of the places they're learning a lot about there days is how to rein in certain social networking activities in order to achieve the optimal outcome.

One of my colleagues is constantly reminding me that if you have a good sales proposition, and actively engaged consumers, then it really doesn't matter which channel you're engaging them on. It's the multi-channel approach, to be sure, but it gives us pause that the foundation of any business proposition must be strong before any of the tangential elements take effect. One academic has warned that although companies are allocating more and more to social media budgets, they automatically think that they're targeting their message, which isn't necessarily true.

Understanding why consumers talk the way they do about your enterprise is key to unlocking the overall value proposition. True, it's an established fact that word of mouth marketing is 10 times more effective than traditional means of advertising. That's why we need to make sure what our customers are talking about it what we want our corporate messaging to be.

When Infosys helps a retailer rein in customers who are walking around the sales floor in order to engage them with personalized treatment, those consumers are likely to take to social media and tell they friends. They might even involve their friends in with purchasing decisions. That's why the entire sales process must be modernized to reflect the digitally savvy nature of today's consumers. They're already creating a value proposition for your firm. It's best you be a part of influencing it.

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