Category: Customer Experience

@thebuddygroup @dotlot “creating pre-sales content without actively engaging consumers with R.E.A.L post-sale content is like serving your kids pancakes without syrup”

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Successful brands may “win” at being part of the shopping experience up until they get buyers into stores and, ultimately, in line at the cash register. But many assume — incorrectly — that their job ends once a purchase transaction takes place considering this the job of support.

With online sales representing such a large (and growing) part of the customer experience, the customer experience post purchase is broken in the eyes of the customer. I buy on Amazon (or Best Buy or ….) and then I am expected to have a relationship with the manufacturer. This process repeats for each product I purchase.

The customer journey does not stop with the buy. By neglecting the post purchase experience, marketers are missing out on some pretty special moments and product affinity. Today’s consumers are mindful of experience’s value over product, this could become the demise of healthy products incapable of evolving along side of the customer.

It has been said that Brands’ and marketers’ mindsets must shift away from treating a purchase as a “final destination,” and instead focus on continuous interactions with consumers, even when those consumers leave the store for home or other locations. Today, there are tools available to drive engagement at each step of the customer journey —too many tools perhaps– mastering the post sale experience is paramount.

Whether the destination is a brick-and-mortar store or an online marketplace, many of today’s consumers expect shopping to be an experience. Even in our increasingly digital world, the concept of the consumer journey is alive, well and critically important.

This is because the shopping experience is driven by its primary component: a consumer’s intent to purchase

Alongside the intent to purchase is the moment of brand discovery. Given the ubiquity of smartphones today, this defining moment has become a more immediate and common part of the process. This is because, regardless of location, a consumer can instantly access information about a product, such as who makes it, where it can be bought and for how much. This is the setup for future customer interactions.

Consumers seek personalized experiences. A meal out is oftentimes more about the experience than the meal itself — the location, mood and fellow diners all factor into the decision to dine at a particular restaurant. The same philosophy applies to the goods they purchase. Consumers want to try out the product, interact with it, or otherwise, have an experience that makes their shopping trip even more enjoyable. The process is all about earning trust, something that is very difficult to do online in a world of paid reviews, influencers and paid publisher content.

The purchase is no longer the objective

Regardless of how much creativity goes into an in-store moment to make a shopping trip more enjoyable, an item’s purchase traditionally marks the end of the brand’s involvement in the consumer journey. Despite what a brand represents, there’s an instinct to treat the whole process like a transaction. Once the purchase has been made, you have what you need from a customer, and the conversation is complete.

But transaction-based thinking doesn’t fully value the rapport built during the brand discovery phase and undermines what brands are at their core. Strong and successful brands are built on relationships with consumers — pre- and post-purchase — that inform customers, educate and inspire them. If a brand’s interaction with the consumer ends at the point of purchase, it’s a substantial opportunity lost.

Be the exception by being R.E.A.L

At The Buddy Group, we have development a model based on the acronym, R.E.A.L.

R- Relate

E- Educate

A- Advocacy

L- Learn

The 2017 Getting Serious About Omni-channel Experience study by Huawei, the Customer Experience Board, and the CMO Council, found 60 percent of surveyed marketers altered their content strategy by offering more content types and formats for potential buyers to consume. This is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. According to the same study, only 38 percent of marketers have turned consumer engagement into a 24/7 opportunity to connect with customers, proving that creating pre-sales content without actively engaging consumers with R.E.A.L post-sale content is like bringing your kids pancakes without syrup.

Going the distance

In essence, turning consumer engagement into an around-the-clock operation is synonymous with accompanying a buyer on each step of their shopping journey, as both embrace the idea of extending the dialogue well beyond the moment of purchase.

Major analyst firms such as Gartner also recognize the importance of this kind of brand-to-consumer engagement, citing its positive impact on customer retention. In fact, the Gartner 2017-2018 CMO Spend Survey found that CMOs are spending twice as much on customer retention as on customer acquisition.

As Gartner notes, marketers and brands will need to focus on capturing lifetime value or, simply put, keeping customers for life. Once brands know how to keep customers, they’ll also be able to better understand how to gain them.

The good news is, there’s never been a better opportunity to start engaging with consumers at home, particularly when smart or connected products enable access to custom video content or other unique digital experiences such as voice search, image recognition or up-to-date access to evolving content. Access to videos or tutorials on how to use the product with other products in their ecosystem or addressing common issues caused when using the product with others generate positive outcomes and deep customer trust that your brand will support the ongoing evolution and relationship.

Since consumers already treat shopping like it’s a journey, brands should be treating it the same way. The “final destination” no longer exists in the consumer shopping experience. A purchase transaction is just the start, and it can be the beginning of a conversation that fuels business growth, drives additional sales and creates ultra-loyal and satisfied customers.

Ultimately, it comes down to trust: trusting the sources from which you get information, whether it’s from brands, news sources, family members, Twitter accounts, or wherever you’re engaging. @dotlot @thebuddygroup

There’s no question that we live in a society in which information moves faster than ever before. So the old adage that “a lie is halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on” is quite accurate.

A recent study in Science found that false news travels faster and wider and that the blame lies with humans. It’s the same reason that gossip tabloids have always flourished and that the Kardashians are so widely followed. Human nature seems to gravitate toward a willingness to spread falsehoods and exaggerations.

And this is why Facebook (and other big technology companies) are in a pinch ahead of the midterm elections. Because what they have to fix isn’t just an algorithm: it’s human behavior. Behavior that they’ve trained with Pavlovian-like responses tied to endorphins that ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ cause in the brain. The ubiquitous nature of technology and its endemic effects make this a societal problem, with reverberations that are being felt in government, child-rearing, school, and more.

There’s still a need to be aware of and efforts made to stomp out fake news. Interestingly, even amid the growing era of machine learning, journalists may be better suited to do sniff out fake news. That is, journalists who aren’t being coerced into bashing national media companies by their employers.

What’s Life Without Information?

But what’s the answer? One New York Times columnist took a two-month hiatus from digital sources, getting his news only from print newspapers. The result was a less frenetic, richer experience with himself and his family. And an Ohio man completely cut himself off from every kind of news. Those kinds of solutions may not be for everyone, but they do indicate just how deep technology pervades our minds and the need to make some kind of change to our behavior.

Ultimately, it comes down to trust: trusting the sources from which you get information, whether it’s from brands, news sources, family members, Twitter accounts, or wherever you’re engaging. And knowing that you have the power to influence others, because that’s who people trust over all sources. Your employees, customers, fans, family and the like — they’re the ones who will be the best resource when it comes to leading and defending your brand or your story. If you have a good relationship with them and can be consistent and persistent, you stand a chance of breaking through.

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The #IoT sector is expected to grow to 20.4 billion devices by 2020, and businesses are expected to spend $134 billion annually by 2022 just on cybersecurity for IoT devices

There’s a running joke regarding connected gadgets and the internet of things: “The ‘S’ in IoT stands for security.”

And yes, I’m aware there’s no “S” in IoT.

Oleg Šelajev, a lead developer for Oracle Labs, coined the phrase in 2016, and it pops up almost every time researchers find security flaws with a connected device. And it happens a lot. Think security cameras. Or toys. Or smart locks.

Yet homes, businesses and facilities are stocking up on more and more connected devices, the idea being to make people’s lives easier. The IoT sector is expected to grow to 20.4 billion devices by 2020, and businesses are expected to spend $134 billion annually by 2022 just on cybersecurity for IoT devices, according to Juniper Research.

But more connected devices means more potential vulnerabilities. And the security of these devices hasn’t gotten much better. Researchers have been warning about this issue for years, but the number of threats is only getting worse. The real problem is that no one’s listening.

“We demonstrated problems last year,” Denis Makrushin, a Kaspersky Lab researcher, said at his company’s Security Analyst Summit in Cancun, Mexico, earlier this month. “This year, it’s the same problems, but now with huge numbers.”

Even more distressing is the bigger threat to the more than 8.4 billion IoT devices already available today — especially as security vulnerabilities in old devices keep popping up. So even as politicians and the tech industry look to address this for new products, it’s the legacy gadgets that could prove most vulnerable. It was one of the key themes at the Kaspersky conference, where researchers exposed vulnerabilities affecting decades-old gas pumpsrobots in malls and smart cameras for homes.

Panels at Kaspersky’s 10th annual summit in Mexico took place in windowless conference rooms just a stone’s throw away from Cancun’s sunny beaches. While couples were cooling off by the pool and families were playing in the sand at this popular vacation destination, security researchers were inside showing off vulnerabilities with the gadgets that increasingly run our lives.

It didn’t end with robots and gas stations. Other panels detailed how you could hack a yacht, a car, industrial control systems and hospital tech. The one common thread for all of this research: It wasn’t shiny, new gadgets with security flaws, but devices from years ago. These are the ones makers have moved on from, but people can still buy in stores.

Medical malware

Your typical hospital serves as a case study for how vulnerable we are. Kaspersky Lab’s researchers found 27,716 open entry points for a hacker. Yury Namestnikov, one such researcher, attributes this to a rise in internet-connected devices in hospitals, some of which might not even be medical equipment.

IoT devices will number 20.4 billion by 2020. That’s a lot of potential security hazards.

James Martin/CNET

They found issues with the lighting systems, air-conditioning units and printers. Many of them were using out-of-date management software open to attacks. The researchers pointed out that the popular Cancun resort they were staying at might also have these same security issues.

“If you’re an administrator, you need to decide what kind of stuff needs to be on the internet,” Namestnikov said in an interview at the resort. “You need to make inventory, what’s connected and what you should protect.”

Hospitals were among the first victims hit by the WannaCry ransomware attack, preventing patients from getting urgent care while computer systems were locked up. Security is a major concern at hospitals, which hold sensitive data for attackers to target. But hospitals are increasingly embracing connected devices.

“They have to use new equipment to keep up, but they don’t understand a need to adopt security also,” Namestnikov said.

When companies aren’t building their devices with security in mind, it ends up falling on researchers to both find the mess and help clean it up.

Eyes on IoT

There are always new places to find security vulnerabilities.

After successfully hacking the Pepper and Nao robots, Lucas Apa, a researcher from IOActive, said he was interested in a looking at Knightscope, the robot that notoriously was used to disperse the homeless in San Francisco and that comically was found drowned in a fountain in Washington, DC.

For Ido Naor, the Kaspersky researcher who discovered issues with more than 1,000 internet-connected gas stations, he’s always keeping an eye out.

“As researchers, we walk around the world, and check out everything,” Naor said. “Marks, logos, different types of devices we’ve never seen before, and it tickles our mind to look for information about it.”

The scariest thing: Plenty of hackers are probably just as curious.

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How the Internet of Things will create a jobs revolution

The Internet of Things industry is set to define the world over the next few years. Tech pundits believe that in the foreseeable future, we’ll be surrounded by internet-connected objects. From smart kettles to AI assistants, this technology will make us smarter and more productive – both at home and in the workplace.

According to Gartner, there’ll be 20.4 billion connected products in use by 2020, and spending in this lucrative industry reached an estimated $2 trillion in 2017. The research firm has named North America, Western Europe and Asia as regions where this technology will thrive the most. Last year alone, these continents made up 62 per cent of the IoT installed base.

There’s no denying the fact that IoT presents consumers and businesses with a unique and exciting opportunity. But at the same time, there’s been some worry, especially from an employment point-of-view – as more companies invest in IoT and automation strategies, many people fear that they’ll be out of jobs in the future.

However, there are plenty of industry pundits who believe that the Internet of Things will actually create a new breed of job opportunities. Not only are humans needed to make these technologies in the first place, but they’re also crucial in maintaining them. There’s an urgency for professionals who can ensure that connected systems don’t get out of control and become a security hazard, too. Here’s how IoT will result in an employment boost.


Security opportunities

While connected technologies offer lots of benefits, they can also be dangerous. Cyber crooks have already amassed millions of IoT devices to launch major cyber attacks, and there’s nothing stopping hackers from getting into driverless vehicles to cause serious harm to humans. As a result, there’s now a demand for IoT security professionals.

Glen Pearse, managing consultant of IT at Heat Recruitment, believes that the most noticeable change will be the number of security jobs created in the tech sector. “It’s a huge sector without including IoT, but the more connectivity we see across the globe, the more vulnerabilities come to light. In addition, we’re going to need far more developers to meet this demand – even though the current market for embedded developers is still remarkably niche,” he tells us.

However, he argues that there’ll be a serious skills crisis if academic institutions and companies are unable to create the right professionals. “To meet the requirement, more developers are going to need to pivot their skillset and move on to hardware coding using C and C++, for example, in addition to their current Full Stack experience. Until IoT becomes secure and, most of all stable, we will see a huge rise in consultancy services – including security analysts and security consultancy specialists,” he explains.


Data science bods

Pearse says there’ll be an increasing amount of companies that need employees with artificial intelligence and data science skills as well. He adds: “But developers are still reluctant to take the plunge into a full IoT skillset. It’s just too unpredictable an industry, but these skills eventually need to be brought in-house. Once the teething stages have been summited, and the right security or embedded specialists are in place, the sky’s the limit in terms of IoT jobs – it’s set to have the same impact as radio first did.”

Ian Hughes, an analyst at 451 Research, says there’ll be “obvious roles for hybrid hardware and software engineers”. However, as the number of connected devices grows in volume, businesses will have to deal with increasing masses of complex data. In order to keep on top of this influx of information, Hughes tells us that businesses will need to hire big data experts. Like Pearse, he believes that they’ll play a crucial role in the industry.

“IoT also increases the need for data scientist and security experts, [which] as our survey data already shows are short supply. As IoT architectures evolve to distributed computing and data storage patterns, richer technical skills will be required for build teams to configure those. As user interfaces adjust to represent full digital twins 3D design and data integration will also become more of a requirement,” he says.


Other roles

Although the Internet of Things sector is still in the early stages, investments and acquisitions are already commonplace. Analyst company IDC claims that spending on connected technology will reach $1.4 trillion by 2021. Tim Stone, venture partner director of IoT investment company Breed Reply, expects to see “IoT investor” roles increase in the foreseeable future. They’re responsible for finding innovative IoT start-ups and turning them into profitable enterprises.

“The role of the specialist IoT investor is going to grow and become more crucial over the coming years as the adoption and demand for IoT technology increases. More and more industries and sectors are switching on to the need for IoT to help create new business models and increase productivity. Start-ups, somewhat understandably, tend to initially work with traditional technology VCs, as they dominate the market,” he tells us.

Stone admits, though, that IoT is still a risky and challenging sector. The industry’s professionals will need to be self-starters who can master technology but also manage more business-oriented tasks. He concludes: “However, IoT has its own unique challenges and requires a different set of skills and experience than perhaps other technologies. In particular, being able to get to grips with the combination of data and analytics, AI and machine learning as well as in many cases developing devices. Importantly, success depends on being able to then commercialize the technology and as IoT companies start to generate revenue there are job roles created as a result, both at the tech level, such as data scientists, and at the business level, with sales and other critical roles.”

Josh Matteson, from American home services start-up Lula, says that “smart building maintenance” roles will crop up as the area evolves. “Within the next five years, we are going to see a whole new type of home maintenance. With everyone racing to become the household name in smart home devices, there is going to be a huge demand for smart home professionals,” he says.

“With the IoT making home connectivity a reality, the average homeowner may struggle to install the technology themselves. This will create a whole new set of jobs for smart home experts. Within this five-year time frame, smart homes will be considered less of a luxury, and more of a normal household concept. This will increase the number of questions, repairs, and installations.”

Over the next decade or so, it’ll be impossible for consumers and businesses to shy away from the Internet of Things. It couldn’t be clearer that the sector will define the way we live and work. Although the industry is still in its infancy, it’ll create so many opportunities – including new types of jobs. While these examples focus on design, security and investment in particular, we’ll likely see more advanced jobs come to fruition.

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The number one projector manufacturer in the world is already on 3rd gen AR glasses @epson

Super happy to see our Buddies at Epson Moverio getting so much positive attention. We’ve seen this product evolve over the years and it just keeps getting better. This team is unstoppable.


If you think about augmented reality beyond the smartphone, you’re probably thinking about something like Microsoft’s Hololens, or the Meta 2, or the much-hyped Magic Leap One. You might also think about smartglasses like Google Glass or the Vuzix Blade, or sports-focused products such as the Raptor, by Everysight.

You probably aren’t thinking of Epson.

Epson Moverio smartglasses

However, the company not only makes a smartglasses product, it has released functioning products that have been used by half a million people. And it’s set to vastly expand that number in the very near future.

“There are more people that visit museums in the U.S. than go to all sports events combined,” ARtGlass CEO Greg Werkheiser told me at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. “It’s a huge and competitive market.”

Werkheiser is referencing museums because that’s one of the key places where Epson has been delivering its augmented reality hardware: the Moverio AR platform, now in its third generation.

“We are the number one projector manufacturer in the world,” Epson’s head of augmented reality, Anna Jen, told me. “There are two mini projectors in each side of our smart glasses, and we have patents from the mid-1980’s on projectors being used as wearable glasses.”

If you’ve flown a drone with DJI’s first-person-view glasses, you’ve used Epson’s projectors inches from your eyes. If you’ve gone to a museum in Europe with an augmented audio/video tour adding detail, color, and history to the artifacts, you’ve used the company’s projectors as well.

Now ARtGlass CEO Werkheiser is bringing the technology to the U.S.

“After more than 500,000 actual users — 500,000 more than anyone else — we’re announcing our first iconic sites in the U.S.,” he told me. “You’ll be able to go to George Washinton’s house, stand where he stood, and a hologram of George Washington will welcome you.”

86 million people have visited Washington’s home since 1860, a Mount Vernon representative said.

Few have had the luxury of “meeting” Washington personally, however.

I tried the Moverio third-gen platform personally and was impressed with the weight (or lack thereof), the comfort, and the quality of the images that the smartglasses project into your eyeballs. Most head-mounted AR solutions I’ve tried, including a few at this year’s CES, have weak, limited color, hard-to-focus images that the device attempts to overlay onto your field of vision, and an uncomfortable reading position in the corner of your field of view.

Monocular, or single eye versions like the Google Glass, were particularly challenging for me.

“Monocular solutions have all kinds of problems,” Epson’s Jen told me when I asked her about them. “Reverse imaging is one of them … and also, most people are either right eye or left eye dominant … so big headaches could be coming your way if it’s on the wrong eye.”

Reverse imaging is exactly the problem I had with one of the monocular sport-oriented smartglasses products at CES.

Using the products at museums is a smart way to introduce a product into the market and get feedback about its shortcomings as well as its successes, which is where ARtGlass comes in. It’s also good business for cultural sites, which have a new experience to offer.

“People are staying 100% longer at exhibits now,” says Werkheiser, who cover the cost of content creation for museums and then collects a percentage of the rental income. “It’s a competitive market … if you go in Washington, DC, and see the same thing again and again, the incentive to bring people back is low. So there’s an increase in demand for differentiators.”

The actual devices have a battery life of four to six hours, which is good for a light, head-mounted device, and a 23-degree field of view. That’s not huge, but it is enough to get a large, full-color, very clear video or image.

It’s a trade-off, Epson’s Jen explains, saying that a wider field of view requires heavier optics and more battery life. Epson retails them for $799, but a commercial version with more capabilities will run buyers $1,399.

The augmented reality tours begin today at Highland, the historic home of President James Monroe, while the George Washington AR tours will launch in the spring.

John Koetsier is a journalist, analyst, and speaker. He analyzes and forecasts mobile trends for TUNE. Follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.