Read it? Good. Now let’s dig into what it means for you. It’s easy to get caught up in some of the slick graphics and the thought leadership behind the Google name, but will these trends really impact you and your business this year?
Trend #1: Internet of Things. It’s true; just about every electronic device being introduced now has some way to connect to the Internet to share data, to store information about you and help you make more informed decisions. But I would propose that for many marketers, this is a bit more of a cool idea than an actionable channel of engagement. In order to make the Internet of Things a reality and help it influence a bottom line, we need to harness and translate the data from these devices, making it actionable.
And that’s a big ask. Think about all the other data sources you have at your disposal today. Are you using them? For many companies, the answer is no. So let’s get our heads around the data and figure out how to deal with it as a combined set of numbers versus individual sources. You shouldn’t ignore all the cool, new devices, but you should be wary of them adding to a potential crush of data that may make it more confusing than ever to understand your customers and data trends in general.
Trend #2: Mobile. Unlike the Internet of Things, this is one I definitely get behind. Every company, no matter the industry or customer base, can utilize mobile at some level. Mobile email, text, mobile Web, apps… there are so many ways for us to reach customers and no harder channel to ignore than the device that’s in every one of their pockets. Early last year, Facebook published a study that discussed the role of different devices (desktop, tablet, mobile) in the decision-making process.
We all know that the business world operates well outside of the 9 to 5 ideals of the Dolly Parton classic, and so do your customers. Research, fact-finding, social discussions about business—they’re all happening both during the workday and after. Make sure you have messaging that your customers can find and process on multiple devices.
Trend #3: Speed. While some sales cycles and decision-making processes have stayed traditional (i.e., long), many industries have seen shortened cycles and the influence of impulse buying on much larger purchases. Customers want satisfaction, answers and results, and they want them now. 24/7 is not just for convenience stores anymore. You have to make sure your content, your products, your services are available anytime, any day. Sure, you may not physically sell or complete transactions at all times, but your customers may not be working on a standard schedule. How can you adapt your business to serve the customer around the clock, even if the lights aren’t on?
Chances are, someone in your field is finding a way to get his or her company in front of consumers. No industry is immune to this shift, because, as we saw in the second trend, customers are always online, finding information and maybe making buying decisions well outside of what was considered “normal” for business operations. It may not be as severe as “adapt or die,” but not finding ways to stay engaged at all times can certainly impact results.
So what do you think? Do these trends apply to you and your business? How will you be implementing these ideas in 2015 and beyond?
Michael Schwabe is Director of Digital Strategy at AKHIA.