Last week Alibaba splashed $2.6 billion, buying Chinese shopping mall operator Intime. This move is yet another step in its strategy strategy to focus on offline-to-online, and create a more seamless experience for its consumers. The coming scope and scale of digital disruption is breathtaking. The integration of design, product management and analytics will uniquely drive innovation. SAS has been working with tech innovation, business development and design consultants BAS ITG and I caught up with its Business Development Director and Partner, Erich Hugo, to explore key considerations.
Erich, you have been evangelising consumer experience - how do approaches like Alibaba’s move yesterday fit in?
We see a new way of describing the relationship between consumer and provider. We call it ‘consumerience’, to describe how it brings consumers and brands closer together to build a sustainable and ongoing relationship. It is a far cry from the old-style transactional relationship, and we expect it to create ongoing value for both customer and brand. Alibaba’s integration of clicks and bricks is squarely in pursuit of consumerience.
The collaboration between BAS ITG and SAS has been focused on IoT analytics. How do you use IoT generated insights in product or service design?
Time is money, and this applies to consumers too. As consumers, we are becoming very demanding. Attention spans are shortening and our tolerance of being made to wait is getting worse. This means that we are demanding instant access to everything, and if we can’t have instant access, then at the very least, we want it more quickly than before, and in a way that saves us time and/or money. For example, in the US, one in three consumers wants home delivery within 2 hours of purchase. IoT helps with streaming operations and deliver this sort of speed.
As well as faster, we also want our customer experience to be more personalised. We want shops to remember us, and to greet us by name when we return. Effectively, we want retailers and suppliers to predict what we want, almost before we know it ourselves, and supply us with something to meet that need. Analytics plays a huge role in this process, and good quality real-time streaming data is critical to differentiate meaningful customer experience design.
Greater personalisation is best supported by personal data. At SAS, we have been concerned about the impact of GDPR. How do you approach data privacy?
With great respect. When we architect for information flows, we pay close attention to where the data will reside, to ensure compliance. We emphasise ‘data quality’ in all its facets - we need data to be accurate, timely, legal, ethical as well as usable. As designers, it is critical that we can depend on our data management and analytics partners to help us ensure our customer projects are resilient. We also contribute towards Digital policy development; including sometimes standing up for consumer rights against those who try to slow down innovation to protect the status quo.
My team has enjoyed collaborating with yours. Tell me more about the "Interesting Times Gang"
BAS as a firm has our roots firmly in the discipline of design. Back in 2012 we realised that insights about customer preferences will be enhanced by technology tools such as mobility, IoT and created a technology focused sub-team. As Arthur C Clarke proclaimed: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". We wanted to inject some of that magic and take our customers and their consumers on to more interesting times, hence BAS - Interesting Times Gang (ITG)
IoT enabled design innovation is attracting significant brand attention and product management interest. Join our experts on a Twitter chat on Friday 20th January 2017, from 15hrs CET, to understand the role analytics play in this process, and the many options open to savvy product strategists. Here are the topics of our discussion on #SASchat.
Q1 - What are your favourite examples of IoT-enabled new products or services?
Q2 - How can product strategist access good quality data and insights to support product or service innovation?
Q3 - How can the data management and data science communities support designers more effectively?
Q4 - What are the questions to ask from your data when designing a superior consumer experience?
Q5 - How do the concepts of luxury and ‘giving something back’ co-exist?