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Finding Value in Emerging Technology


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With CES 2015 around the corner, brands are giving increased attention to emerging technology. But how are brands to decipher which technologies are important and which are not? Furthermore, how do they find value in them? Find out in our latest thought paper.

Published in: Technology

Finding Value in Emerging Technology

  3. 3. ith so many emerging technologies coming to market surrounded by hype, how are brands supposed to determine which ones are worth investing energy in? W The answer, it turns out, lies not in the technology itself, but rather in the people who use it. Consumer demand and adoption behaviour is what drives technologies from the niche stage to mass adoption. So for brands and businesses to know which emerging technologies to invest in, they must first understand the rate of accelerating change and how society adopts technology.
  5. 5. THE DIGITAL LANDSCAPE IS EVOLVING AT AN ALMOST INCOMPREHENSIBLE RATE OF CHANGE. Over 500 million tweets per day 60millionInstagrams posted per day 1.2 billion Facebook monthly active users 1.9 billion Google searches per month 100 hours of YouTube videos are added per minute 6 billion hours of YouTube videos are viewed per month To add to this confusion, the technology by which the digital landscape is delivered is also evolving at a rapid rate, often leaving brands struggling to decide which emerging technology to embrace. Ultimately, for brands to make this decision, they must first understand how and why certain technologies are adopted by society. To decide which technology to embrace... brands must understand how and why certain technologies are adopted.
  6. 6. Gartner’s Hype Cycle is well known in the technology sector, and helps convey a basic pattern of the mass market’s adoption of emerging technologies. Although it has occasionally been criticized as a simplification of a much more nuanced trend, it demonstrates clearly that while many emerging technologies show promise out of the gate, there are still many hurdles to overcome before they are widely embraced by mainstream markets. Gartner’s Hype Cycle MATURITY VISIBILITY TECHNOLOGY TRIGGER PEAK OF INFLATED EXPECTATIONS TROUGHOFDISILLUSIONMENT SLOPE OF ENLIGHTENMENT PLATEAU OF PRODUCTIVITY Gartner’s Hype Cycle demonstrates that while many emerging technologies show promise, there are many hurdles to overcome before they are widely embraced by mainstream markets.
  7. 7. 1 Technology Trigger The cycle, or pattern, begins with a technology trigger. A breakthrough in any given technological field – whether voice detection, flight, artificial intelligence, etc. – sets off a buzz within the tech community. Typically there are no working prototypes yet, though there are enough proof-of-concepts to create a surge of media interest. 5 Plateau of Productivity A technology that has begun to see widespread adoption – particularly in mainstream markets – can be said to have reached the plateau of productivity. Mainstream society has accepted it, and even adapted behaviours to include it. Smartphones are a perfect example of a technology that has reached the plateau of productivity, a technology for which society was willing to change its behaviour as the benefits outweigh the behavioural and monetary investments. Society has seen a massive change in consumer behavior which is a massive cultural shift given the iPhone was released in Australia only 6 years ago (July 2008) and 7 years ago in the US (June 2007). 2 Peak of Inflated Expectations Increased funding through the Internet – including crowd-sourcing platforms like Kickstarter* – has enabled an overwhelming number of emerging technologies to come to market in the form of early iterations, which often ride on the initial media hype of the technology trigger. This has helped fuel increased hype around the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations.’ 4 Slope of Enlightenment After experiencing an initial wave of setback in the ‘Trough of Disillusionment,’ emerging technologies can either fade away entirely or endure as more evolved second or third generation products. As these products demonstrate capabilities that their first generation iterations lacked, interest may begin to rekindle as consumers/ investors see new reason for their existence. These technologies have reached the ‘Slope of Enlightenment,’ where the benefits of their new offering are weighed against the societal/behavioural change necessary for the technology to be widely adopted. *KICKSTARTER Since launching only 5 years ago, Kickstarter has seen over 7 million backers pledge over $1.3 billion, successfully funding over 70K projects. (That's a lot of technology.) 3 Trough of Disillusionment Following the hype of the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations,’ early iterations of emerging technologies often fail to meet the initial excitement. They subsequently lose momentum and head towards the ‘Trough of Disillusionment.’ This is where lack of consumer demand kills off innovations, naturally separating the technologies that are developed for the sake of technology versus those that have the potential to provide real consumer benefit.
  9. 9. Focus on technologies that have reached the ‘Slope of Enlightenment’ Define how people derive benefit from the technology While the Gartner Cycle is not exact science, brands can use it in a number of scenarios to gauge whether or not they should embrace – or at least experiment with – an emerging technology. Following these steps can help simplify the decision: Whereas marketing used to be about “the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers for the purpose of selling that product or service,” people now demand much more from brands in exchange for their loyalty. So marketers now need to “understand what their customers will value to evolve communications, experiences and products or services, for the purpose of selling that product or service.” For instance, if a car company is seeing declining sales among consumers, but notices an uptake of sales among Uber drivers, then perhaps it is worth considering a partnership with Uber. A. B. What are the current business challenges that the brand is facing? 1 How are consumers currently interacting with the brand? 2 Could this technology add value to the way that consumer interact with the brand? 3 Ultimately, if the technology can help solve a specific business problem or provide customers more value, then it is likely one that is worth investigating further. At its core, technology exists to service needs. Employing technology for the sake of employing technology is no different than making technology for the sake of making it. It doesn’t work. At its core, technology exists to service needs, and if a brand is seeking to use an emerging technology, it must first define the precise way in which its doing so will benefit its target audience. It is imperative for brands to get an in-depth understanding of their specific consumers and what value their customers will want from them.
  10. 10. Create an experience with the technology to provide more value – quickly! Be Creative All companies have short-term imperatives that need to be met; unfortunately, these can hold brands back from focusing on the bigger, longer-term benefits that emerging technology can provide. So it is important to have innovation work streams separated from daily activity to avoid de-prioritisation. Separating these work streams allows focus and ensures they come to fruition in a timely manner, before competitors take advantage of the same technology. Failure to do this can have devastating effects on companies – think back to Kodak and Blockbuster. Both Kodak and Blockbuster were massive global companies that missed opportunities in emerging technologies, and are veritable proof that constant evaluation of emerging technology is not just a fun side project, but should be a priority. Emerging technology is effectively a new canvas, and the process of filling that canvas in a way that engages the widest possible audience is a work of creativity. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, or even use the technology in a way in which it was not intended to be used. C. D. Evaluation of emerging technology is not just a fun side project, but is imperative to remain competitive. For instance, ANR BBDO and Stopp partnered with Swedish Internet provider to demonstrate the real-time effects of Internet lag using an Oculus Rift. They strapped users into an immersive Oculus experience that delayed sight and sound, and then asked them to participate in physical activities like exercise classes and cooking. The resulting video demonstrated the importance of a strong Internet connection and a video that quickly went viral.
  12. 12. WEARABLES These are some technologies that have made it past the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’ and are beginning to see successful adoption by brands who are using them to provide value to customers. After years of our wondering whether something like Google Glass could ever catch on, wearables have coasted past the ‘Trough of Disillusionment.’ But they have done so in a different form. Glasses proved too invasive (and unsightly, at least for now) but wearable tech snuck into the mainstream market via wrist-wear and smart garments. An explosion of connected wrist wear – cemented by Apple’s announcement of its Watch product – has ridden a wave of personal health and fitness enthusiasm to arrive on the mainstream market. Microchips have also enabled the creation of connected clothing, which can be worn in a way that is not invasive and collects valuable health data. Foxtel — Alert Shirt Australian Rules Football is a national obsession. As a result, fans already get great coverage of football games on free-to-air TV. Foxtel and CHE Proximity set out to convince them that subscribing to pay TV would get them closer to their team by creating an experience that justified the price. Alert Shirt changed the rules of television broadcast, turning professional sport from something you watch to something you’re physically involved in. Beyond the emotional, fans can now connect to the physical sensations of their team. These include: a thumping heart whenever the game is on the line, the shock of a big hit when players collide, the sinking feeling of every costly mistake, lungs burning every time your team puts in a hard effort, and a rush of blood when your team is on the up. A great example of understanding that customers want to get closer to the sport they watch and developing wearable technology that allows them to do so, giving Foxtel an avenue to provide more value to their customers. One of the most fascinating elements of wearable technology is that it may spawn a new era of communication: digital touch. In other words, two people wearing wearable technology can effectively communicate with each other via the touch sensors of the devices, which is something Apple went so far as to trademark as Digital Touch in their announcement of Apple Watch. How this particular component of wearable tech will manifest itself with greater consumer adoption has yet to be seen, but it is one of the first aspects of wearable technology that brands have begun to explore, if only to provide entertainment value as opposed to strict utility.
  13. 13. INTERNET OF THINGS The rising popularity and acceptance of wearable technology can be said to be part of a larger trend towards connected objects in general, a trend known as the Internet of Things. Put simply, the Internet of Things is a term used to describe objects that are smart, or connected to the Internet, and can include objects as seemingly mundane as light-bulbs, scales, refrigerators, and thermostats. The GE Link lightbulb, for instance, is a smart bulb that can be controlled via smartphone. Gatorade — From the Lab to the Pitch Gatorade was one of the first brands to tap into the marketing potential of connected devices, partnering with Smart Design to create a smart and connected water bottle for the Brazilian football team during the 2014 World Cup. Each player is tested in a lab to determine their personal hydration profile and the optimum formula of Gatorade for their body based on their personal requirements. The water bottle contains a microchip that detects hydration levels of players and passes the information back to coaching staff. This information combined with the players profile then helps players be at an optimum level of hydration in order to perform at their best. Internet of Things is a term used to describe objects that are smart, or connected to the Internet
  14. 14. Many marketers have wondered what the place is for brands in the Internet of Things, especially non-manufacturers. For instance, what is the place for a CPG brand, or a shoe brand, in connected devices? What these marketers need to consider, however, is how various connected devices may end up connecting with each other through a consumer’s smartphone. Imagine, for instance, a partnership in which a CPG brand’s app collects weight loss data from a smart scale and exercise data from a smart shoe or watch, and through a smart refrigerator’s instant ordering capabilities is able to reward consumers for reaching weight loss goals, all the while tweeting to the brand’s Twitter handles for each stage of accomplishment. Now is the time for brands to at least experiment with a communications strategy for connected device and forge initial partnerships. Alcohol brands might take particular interest in a Kickstarter project called Monsieur, a smart robotic bartender machine that mixes perfect cocktails. It can recommend drinks and communicate via smartphone, meaning that a liquor brand could ostensibly partner with clubs and bars to ensure that the Monsieur recommends their brand with their own signature cocktails. The Internet of Things is still at an early stage, but with major manufacturers producing better and better smart devices, and with smartphones – and even watches – acting as a hub, now is the time for brands to at least experiment with a communications strategy for connected device and forge initial partnerships.
  15. 15. 3D PRINTING 3D Printers are becoming more accessible with the entry point at just a few hundred dollars. Printing 3D objects provide provides the ability for personalised and customised products to be produced in an efficient manner. For brands, the possibilities that 3D printing creates for custom product promotions are practically limitless. Taken one step further, 3D printers have also been used for installations. World Animal Protection — Elephant sized petition World Animal Protection, in partnership with FHV BBDO, has combined 5 Ultimaker 3D printers to print a life-size elephant at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to launch a campaign to end elephant cruelty. Each time someone pledges to never ride an elephant (again,) a name is added to the petition and a new piece of the elephant is printed. Turning the usual intangible act of signing a petition into something where people can visualise the impact in a more tangible way. The possibilites that 3D printing creates for custom product promotions are practically limitless.
  16. 16. Emerging technologies can present endless temptation and occasional bewilderment to marketers. But if approached methodically, they can be used to solve both business and communications problems. Following these key guidelines can help brands make the most impact with their exploration of emerging tech. KEY TAKEAWAYS Focus on the technology that has made it to the Slope of Enlightenment on Gartner’s Hype Cycle. Consider how the technology can be used to solve a specific business problem and/or provide value to the consumer. Be creative in the execution to most effectively leverage emerging technology. And do it before your competitors do. 1 2 3
  17. 17. REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Interview with Tom Sunshine, Friday, August 15th, 2014 11. Interview with Michael Moroney, Friday, August 15th, 2014 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. mobilemarketinganalytics/mobilemarketingstatistics/ 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27.