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It's no secret that today’s consumer is obsessed with their mobile devices, in fact research conducted by Tecmark in the UK in October 2014 suggests that people pick up their phone a ridiculous 1,500 times a week. This creates both opportunities and challenges to connect with consumers, as the “internet of things” continues to bring phenomenal technologies to the mainstream. It also brings some solid applications for more effectively engaging customers. However, this is if, and only if, new technologies are deployed responsibly.

The Big Technologies for Marketers

Here are a few of the big technologies and how they can primarily benefit Marketers: Wearable Tech - Using personal data to engage customers in “always on” engagement techniques such as Gamification. Augmented Reality - Creating truly interactive content that plays with the physical world. The iBeacon - Bluetooth technology that measures and engages people with proximity sensors in physical spaces. Behavioural Retargeting or Remarketing - Advertising targeted at website visitors based on browsing behaviour. Unlike Search Engine Marketing, these technologies have one thing in common: there are few guiding principles or rules on best practice that are in any way enforceable.

The Rules of These Technologies

People complain (a lot) about the market power of Google and the “rule setting” that goes on with search, but these rules are truly effective in one significant way. They deter us or even punish us for doing dumb irrelevant stuff with consumers. Effectively in the case of search, Google plays the role of the Police Department, saving marketers from themselves where possible, or 'penalising' those that deliberately break the rules. However, these technologies, with the partial exception of Remarketing, have no police department or guiding principles. This puts at risk the benefit of these technologies in a marketing application going forward. Basically, such technologies are only going to be as good as their worst user - it only takes one person, just one, to ruin it for everyone else.

What Are the Risks of These Technologies?

Here are some things that we are already seeing that place these great technologies and their valuable applications at risk. Wearable Tech: Turning users into annoying sharers. No I do not want to tell everyone in my Facebook Network how many steps I’ve done today, because, well how do I say this…… they don’t give a [insert expletive here]. For an example of responsible use see Whistle. Augmented Reality: Sure, you might think that having your commercial burst out of a box of cereal is innovative, but I am not downloading an application for the privilege unless I'm in a time machine and it's actually 2004. For an example of responsible use see Samsung LED TV Application. The iBeacon: Yes I came into your store, no I don’t want to pinged with messaging through my entire visit - its creepy and mostly irrelevant. See American Airlines/Dallas Airport for a useful application of this tech. Targeted Remarking: This, unfortunately as the name might suggest, is supposed to be targeted. If the qualification for online stalking is a single visit to your website, I’d hate to see what you would do if someone bought you a drink! See this article on Remarking. The trouble and the point of all this is that marketers, and in particular marketing agencies, run at speed to these technologies, often blindly. Sometimes marketers clammer for relevance and talking points, without solid consideration of the benefits to customer experience. As is often talked about, but seldom practiced, brands are behaviour. So if your brand is adopting new “stuff” with no coordination to the other elements of the customer experience, it will make no sense to anyone, and may in fact do your brand more harm than good.

So How is this Cool Technology Really Being Wasted?

  1. We run at ‘new’, ‘different’ and ‘clever’ - like moths to a light bulb. These are not qualifiers for using a technology.
  2. We let the possibilities of a technology dictate or define how we use it. Yes you can ping me in store, but why would I want that?
  3. We destroy benefits of new technology by over-extending its promotion. A.K.A. sharing my daily steps taken with my second cousin Tony.
  4. We don’t use the Customer Experience framework (assuming we have one) to determine whether a technology is even relevant.
  5. We allow poor execution and gimmicks to destroy the credibility and utility of a technology. This is all before customers have had a reasonable chance to discover its benefits. We effectively kill off smart new technology with dumb or lazy execution.

  So heres hoping that this trend does not continue. There will be a flurry of technologies in the coming years that could enrich customer engagement opportunities - lets not waste them. If we use technology wisely and with a level of discernment, we may very well give life to new and more effective ways of engagement and ultimately (going out on a limb here), make our customers lives easier as a result. If there is one thing I’d like you to take away it's this: technology is an enabler. It should add value to existing experiences and tasks. If you use it for anything else, you do so at your own peril and at the peril of the technology itself. After all, they put wheels in the souls of sneakers a while back, kids love them, but I’ve never seen anyone wear them to the office. There must be a reason for that too. For more on emerging personal tech check out this Trend Briefing interf from Trendwatching.

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