Missing my favorite event of the year assembled by @dherman76 

As I sit here thinking about the week ahead, I find myself truly disappointed to not be joining my friends and colleagues at this year’s Silicon Alley Sports event. On one hand, I’m appreciative of the opportunity to be busy with amazing client growth plans. On the other, I am sorry that I won’t see Darren’s vision take form in what will no doubt be another great year. 

From performance to brand building and several tech offerings in between, Darren’s event is one of the best places to meet up with those who make moves in the media and connected marketing landscape. 

Those of you interested in attending next year, let me know via DM. It’s an invite only event but I will be happy to bring a plus one next year if the fit is right 😉

I’ll be looking for photos and recaps from those of you going. 
http://www.siliconalleysports.com/new-page-1/

Disruptors in 2017: What’s on the Horizon for Marketing Technology | MarTech Advisor

If 2016 is any indication for 2017, it will be the year of the customer experience. Jamie Anderson, Senior Vice President & CMO at SAP Hybris explains how with the surge of new technology and, with it, the increase in the number of different channels available to connect with consumers, customer experience has taken on an entirely new meaning. There are more ways than ever for the customer to touch the enterprise

In order to be successful in the coming year, CMOs must understand the technology that works behind the scenes to create a seamless customer experience. Recent research from the CMO Council and SAP Hybris showed that 39 percent of marketers believe their technology investments have met expectations in areas such as measurement and customer interaction, but they appear to be falling short when it comes to connecting content, commerce, conversation, and campaigns with back-end operational realities, supply chain logistics, and organizational capabilities that will ultimately impact the customer experience.

This year, marketers must advance their pools of intelligence from being largely marketing-focused into those that are entirely customer-focused. This demands that the entire organization – from HR to operations and the supply chain – be digitally connected and aligned around a live view of the customer as an individual –  a view that takes the past, present, and future state of that individual into context in real-time.

Understanding this underlying technology will become even more critical once virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and general machine learning become a standard practice within marketing technology – something I believe will come to fruition this year. VR and AR have the potential to completely transform the way that consumers interact with technology and, therefore, a brand. This year we saw furniture companies implement VR to allow consumers to visualize what a piece of furniture would look like in their home and retail brands use smart changing rooms to more easily connect the consumer with sales associates. These are two examples of how the shopping experience can be augmented by virtual reality to enhance the customer experience and help retailers make smarter merchandising decisions. With this technology at the core, machine learning will begin to drive customer engagement.

Which brings me to my next prediction: in 2017, physical and digital retail will merge entirely to create one consistent shopping experience. It’s become clear that consumers expect to interact with a single brand, while jumping across in-store and online touchpoints to research and make purchases. Therefore, retailers shouldn’t think in terms of individual channels. For a truly connected retail experience, they must embrace technologies that bridge the physical and digital divide.

For example, in-store sales associates should have access to customer data, including past behaviors and preferences to help personalize the shopping experience. Taking it one step further, brands can offer online ordering for in-store pick-up and vice versa. Consumer shopping behaviors are drastically changing year after year and retailers must keep up with this evolution. With approaches available to help blend the retail experience, shoppers will be able to more easily control their experience, pursuing a variety of tools and channels to complete a purchase. It is the duty of the brand to make this journey as easy and seamless as possible.

This type of connectivity of back-end systems requires a marketing automation system that uses current, relevant data to drive engagement – something all companies will need in order to compete. If their data is out of date, marketing automation is a waste of time. This year, marketers must learn to use automation systems to apply intelligent algorithms to the context of the consumer interaction that has taken place. It’s not about mass outreach – instead, automation can be used to touch each individual customer based on their past behavior and general propensity to buy. AI and machine learning will play a big part in the success of marketing automation systems next year.

Lastly, microservices will be a major disruptor in 2017. At a base level, microservice is a new software that will fundamentally change the agility with which businesses can operate. In the short term, microservices will be most prevalent at the front-end of the business (i.e., the way that brands interact with customers). Microservices can easily be integrated into organizations’ existing technology stacks to create an end-to-end solution that will set a higher bar for engagement between brands and consumers.

If there’s one key area that marketers should focus on in 2017, it is leading the digital innovation that drives change. Once businesses are fully acclimatized to operating in the digital world, they will learn to use it to use it to their advantage – by following consumer journeys from beginning to end, determining what engages a target audience, making predictions about what’s on the mind of customers – and ultimately using this information to form deeper relationships.

https://www.martechadvisor.com/articles/customer-experience/disruptors-in-2017-whats-on-the-horizon-for-marketing-technology/

The rise of the chief marketing technologist | CIO

Whenever we hear the word “digitalization”, we must understand that it is the sound of inevitability and irreversibility. The digital economy isn′t on the horizon anymore, it′s here and it is here to stay. It’s no longer a secret that the digital economy is changing the world at an unprecedented rate. Companies that are looking to succeed in this fast emerging new economy must transform themselves by reinventing their business models, strategies, processes, and practices, and that impacts on the roles of all of its employees, as well as bringing departments to work together, once everyone is more and more dependent of technology to function.

It’s no surprise that marketing is rapidly becoming one of the most technology-dependent functions across all businesses. Gartner has predicted that by 2017, a company’s chief marketing officer (CMO) would be spending more on technology than its CIO, and that is becoming more credible every day, as many CMOs have adopted technology in their everyday activities, showing that technology became the core of marketing nowadays. Every year, CMOs are globally directing their budgets to the usage of technology or software in many different marketing areas. The chart below shows in which areas CMOs are planning to use technology in 2017:

In addition to those numbers, IDC Research has also released a few predictions on how marketing will strategically use technology to accelerate client acquisition, brand awareness, to gather and analyze market and customer information and even to optimize its operational efficiency in order to generate more revenue for companies and be more accurate when directing resources, mainly by enhancing customer experience. Below follows a list with the main predictions from 2017 to 2020 on this subject:

1.  In 2017, CMOs will spend more on content marketing assets than on product marketing assets: For decades, the product launch has reigned as the kingpin content event. With a “bill of materials” stretching through multiple Excel pages, product marketing assets suck up a major portion of the marketing budget – and much of that content is wasted. The days of product content dominance are numbered. Product content will remain important, but it will take its place behind the content marketing assets matched to decision-journey stages.

2. By 2020, 50 percent of companies will use cognitive computing to automate marketing and sales interactions with customers: A few leads go right to sales. But the majority need further qualification and extended nurturing. Companies will increasingly turn to smart systems that automatically assess and respond to buyers at the point of need.  IBM recently added Watson to its marketing cloud offerings. The question is not when cognitive marketing will become mainstream – but rather, will anyone notice?

3. In 2017, 20 percent of large enterprise CMOs will consolidate their marketing technology infrastructure: Marketing has been absorbing marketing technology a bite at a time for more than a decade. Many organizations now manage dozens (if not hundreds) of point solutions. Just as marketing environments are hitting the wall of this operational complexity, marketing tech vendors are building solid integrated platforms – tailorable through a partner eco-system. A fortuitous convergence of supply and demand.

4. By 2018, predictive analytics will be a standard tool for marketers, but only a third will get optimal benefit: Early adopters of predictive analytics for buyer behavior report amazing results. The benefits come from the ability to discover hidden segments that have a high propensity to buy. Marketers can also better serve these segments with behavioral targeting. However, the majority of marketers face big challenges to achieving the benefits.  Chief inhibitors? Lack of statistical skills, stubborn organizational silos that won’t integrate data, and a culture that resists truth when it goes against tradition.

5. By 2018, 50 percent of CMOs will make significant structural changes to their “intelligence” operations and organizations:  “Intelligence” as a capability is growing in importance in modern marketing organizations. Intelligence includes market intelligence (MI), business intelligence (BI), competitive intelligence (CI), and social intelligence (SI). In the past, these four functions were spread around the enterprise. Now, IDC sees more companies consolidating into a larger, single, intelligence group – often combining with intelligence functions from other areas like sales. The elimination of silos in this important area is a positive sign.

http://www.cio.com/article/3159677/consumer-electronics/the-rise-of-the-chief-marketing-technologist.html

What does the future of Passenger Experience look like?

It is found within the culture of Zodiac Inflight Innovations.

It’s no surprise that on-demand entertainment has become such a cornerstone of our culture. It’s personal. And it’s available anytime and anywhere — even 35,000 feet in the air.

But while flying and on-demand entertainment are enthralling experiences/technology, the websites for IFE (Inflight entertainment) providers are hardly what you’d label “captivating”. Which is why we wanted to change that perception with the complete overhaul of the Zodiac Inflight Innovations (Zii) website because this company, it’s core, is the epitome of captivating.

Our goal was to make a website that’s as entertaining and as captivating as the products and services that Zii provide to airlines and passengers all over the world. So, we immediately decided to simplify the site. That meant ditching the dark color palette in favor of a lighter one, as it would open up the design as well as lose the sterile tech feel that plagued the previous iteration, as well as implementing full-bleed imagery throughout the site. This simplified, clean design ultimately makes the site and Zii appear more dynamic, cutting-edge and engaging — just as a provider of entertainment should appear. Click here for our case study and let me know what you think!

 

Mozilla’s new logo: An example of the power of the community for which they serve

Disclosure: Mozilla is a partner of The Buddy Group. We proudly support certain internal product, communication and creative opportunities as needed. Proud to support the mission and ethos for which it stands. 

Mozilla has changed. So have we, the user. One thing that has not changed however is the respect they show their users in everything they do.

Last year Mozilla embarked on the most unique, eye-brow raising, risk/reward endeavor I have ever seen a brand take. Not only were they going to re-brand Mozilla for the next generation of innovation but they were going to tackle it in a way only Mozilla could tackle– open, honest and ready for feedback. They opened the process to the community and through the process earned our respect for taking a road less (if not ever) traveled on this scale.

We, as a company, with all our spirit and gusto to be mavericks and push clients outside of their comfort zone, remained glued to our social streams waiting for what would be next.

What came out of it is fascinating, right and admirable.

Rather than recap every step myself, I turn it over to Adweek and Mozilla’s own voice which did a great job of keeping a running log of the process.

Enjoy and let me know what you think!


As written in ADWEEK: For the last six months, Mozilla has been working on a brand identity upgrade, and it’s kept a running log of this process. But it also took it one step further, releasing open-source guidelines for anyone who wanted to jump in and help compose a new logo and visual cues.

“Rather than conduct a brand refresh behind closed doors, we just thought maybe there’s a better or different way to do this,” Mozilla creative director Tim Murray said in August.

http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/mozilla-open-sourced-parts-its-new-brand-identity-heres-how-went-175636

ALLIANCE allows for synchronization and more

Wireless connections within the Internet of Things may soon rival the capabilities of wired systems, based on new standards being released by Wi-Fi Alliance.

The new standard, called TimeSync, is a Wi-Fi feature that brings precise timing and synchronized operation to wireless devices by aligning them to the same internal clock. It was introduced at CES, just concluded in Las Vegas.

This type of synchronization would enable properly synced audio and video playback wirelessly across a full surround-sound system, according to Kevin Robinson, VP of marketing at Wi-Fi Alliance.

“As Wi-Fi becomes more firmly planted in the connected home space, it is growing from simply delivering Internet connectivity to connected devices to now moving into the interconnections between the components themselves,” Robinson told the IoT Daily.

“Part of the reason Wi-Fi has been as successful as it has is that it’s a very flexible and capable platform for other technologies, other ecosystems, to build on top of and it really allows industry to continue to innovate on top of this very capable platform,” he said.

Bringing a cross-brand standard to wireless devices is the goal and Wi-Fi Alliance plans to launch a certification program for device manufacturers to integrate the TimeSync capability into their products later this year.

The Alliance now has more than one flavor of connectivity tailored to different use cases.

For example, Wi-Fi ac, which was updated in mid-2016, is designed to deliver Internet access to wide areas and multiple devices simultaneously. An example Robinson referenced was a recent implementation of Wi-Fi ac access points throughout Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA, which brings high-speed Internet across the entire stadium.

On the other side, Wi-Gig, which was launched in October 2016 and was shown in products at CES, brings short-range, but very high performance speeds. This type of connectivity can enable wireless virtual reality experiences.

The TimeSync feature is not intended to act as a type of connection, but rather as a coordinating layer that can enable better experiences, according to Robinson.

“One way to look at it is it’s an ingredient that will help other technologies in applications perform better,” Robinson told the Daily.

“TimeSync would allow you to create that precise coordination between various devices, whether it’s a VR headset, speakers in the room or a wireless headset,” he said.

Wi-Fi Alliance also plans to launch an indoor location-tracking capability later this year, which would operate similarly to GPS with accuracy within a few feet.

There are currently 8 billion Wi-Fi devices in active use, according to Robinson.

 

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/292636/new-wi-fi-standard-syncs-home-devices-in-real-time.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=readmore&utm_campaign=99529

BREAKING— I have returned from CES 2017 without a cold!

BREAKING— I have returned from CES 2017 without a cold! Each year CES typically leaves its attendees with a version of the funk that typically takes you down upon returning home. Here is to a healthy, funk free, 2017!

This year marks my 16th year attending CES, the default event for those who create, sell and market the technology in our personal lives. Each year I write up a post on the best things I have seen. This year, I am going to shake it up because times, they are changing…

Over the last decade, I have made it a point to drive to Vegas for the event. It proves to be a great plan as the meeting rooms, dinners and meet-ups tend to be spread out in multiple hotels or restaurants. It also serves as a great tool for reflection as the 4-5 hours is often plagued with poor cell service and true quiet time.

So, on my drive home I asked the question (to myself)…

Where is it all going?

To best answer this, I thought about the evolution of the CE (Consumer Electronics) industry over the last 17 years.

Since 2010, CES has been mostly about displays, plastic, hard drives and processors. From ultra flat monitors to tablets, innovation was best observed in the physical products on the floor. Booths were constructed with items spinning under spotlight and demonstrations meant people picked them up or watched their 4k brilliance.

If you follow the trades (and mainstream media) you heard that Amazon stole the show this year with Alexa. You also likely heard people say that they didn’t see anything that wowed them. Well, both are correct. However, I think this is not the full story…

The next 5 years or so will feel like nobody is innovating because innovation has always been measured in physical product. More and more “things” are being connected and as a result, the physical is becoming software enabled. As things become connected, it will be hard for them to be MORE connected. Thus, the innovation we are going to see and need to be better at managing will be in the ability for companies to understand customer needs and create a personalized experience IN or AROUND the products for which they produce.  This will appear more as incremental innovation to outsiders but it truly is the holy grail of innovation.

 

We are in for an era of innovation where consumers buy and recommend based on a product or services ability to “fit them” or “adapt to their needs”. How and where they find out that these features fit them is more important that going to see a product on a shelf at Best Buy. These experiences will carry the innovation banner forward for the years to come.- my 2017 prediction

 

I saw this first hand this year in several instances. Most impressive was the demonstration of Comcast’s Xfinity network customer experience. The super smart, customer focused team at Comcast welcomed me into their suite at Venetian and offered a tour of what will be rolling out to all their customers in just a few months. Sure there was a box on table but the presentation was nearly 100% about the experience and the ability for the customer to control what mattered to them most. For example, Xfinity customers will soon be able to create profiles for their family members on their network allowing them to monitor, report and establish boundaries. This is great for families with kids who have personal devices but also the avid streamer who may be looking for better performance in their streaming.

xfinity-smarter-ecosystem.pngxfinity-smarter-laptop.png

 

xfinity-smarter-parental-control.png

They have streamlined the onboarding process too, demonstrating that innovation doesn’t have to be wrapped in hard plastic. The new experience will be automatically enabled in the first half of 2017 for the approximately 10 million existing Xfinity Internet customers who have a compatible Xfinity Wireless Gateway. That number is expected to grow to more than 15 million by the end of the year as Comcast’s new Advanced Wireless Gateway becomes available to customers. This Advanced Gateway is capable of delivering up to nine gigabits per second over Wi-Fi within the home, supports voice, home monitoring and automation applications and will be the device Comcast uses to make one gigabit per second Internet speeds available across its entire service area.

My hat is tipped to the Comcast team for the fortitude and courage to show up at CES with commitment to the customer experience. Your investment there will win over those markets where you compete against outdated providers. Now, if only you offered your services in Orange County, California!

The number of connected devices is expected to rise from 10 to 50 devices by 2020. However, we are in for a period of time where “The Bigs” and “Start-Ups” alike will compete for your spare change via features that enable a more relevant, useful and personalized experience rather than push more product. Sure we will see people replacing physical items (Dishwashers, Cars, Toasters, etc.) with a new connected version but the idea that we will have tons of new devices in our home in addition to currently non-connected devices is likely a fallacy with the exception of companies like SEVEN HUGS.

  • The Bigs: Will compete with a value proposition of an Ecosystem of products that work together. Their typically closed system (think Apple) will begin to turn people away as consumers are more and more wanting things to work together regardless of the platform.
  • The Start-Ups: Will deliver against niche experiences and gain market share because they deliver amazing experiences that serve a specific persona’s needs. They will of course be gobbled up by a Big in the future but until then, they will blaze trails at a pace only a smaller, nimble company can and a pace that consumers have grown to expect.

Stop looking for the new plastic on the shelf and start looking for the features that make it all “work for you”.

Personalization is going to change consumer expectations, security, user interface design and content delivery. As it pertains to the working world, Intel’s Brian McCarson calls this- Phase Two of the Internet of Things. The use of data to create a more optimized, personalized and relevant experience.

One size fits all will never work again- thankfully. We are in for an era will brands and manufacturers are going to be looking to consumers to help shape (real-time) the features, functions and experience with preference, data and feedback. 

I am excited for a great 2017 filled with innovation, personalization and better customer experiences.

Pete