Are new technologies enhancing customer experiences?

On Tuesday this week I was in London at a meetup that I regularly attend called Future Thinking in Digital Marketing. Previous meetups have covered topics from MOOCs and the future of elearning to big data and innovation. This week’s meetup was about ‘The Internet of Things

On Tuesday this week I was in London at a meetup that I regularly attend called Future Thinking in Digital Marketing. Previous meetups have covered topics from MOOCs and the future of elearning to big data and innovation. This week’s meetup was about ‘The Internet of Things, Wearables & Augmented Reality’, a collection of topics I was keen to learn more about. As usual there were two speakers, and with the venue being a pub, there was plenty of beer flowing too.

The first talk of the evening was from Caspar Thykier, Founder and CEO of Zappar, a leader in Augmented Reality (AR) enabled products and info-tainment experiences. I’m sure you all know what this means, but in case you don’t, AR is the real-time overlaying of digital content onto reality. This is typically viewed through a device such as a smartphone, tablet, or headset, and it has a wide variety of applications, from gaming and education, to marketing and medical.

The technology provided by Zappar allows you to turn a wide range of content, such as audio, video, web links, and more, into bite-sized entertainment experiences by embedding them within ‘Zapcodes’. Using a smartphone or tablet a user can scan the code using the Zappar app to reveal AR content on their device. Whilst Zappar partners with large brands including Disney, Marvel, and Coca Cola, the Zappar app and Zapcode creator allows anyone to explore the possibilities of AR, as I found out.

Within minutes of signing up to the Zapcode Creator I was able to create my very own ALEXON Zapcode, which when scanned provided an AR thumbnail with a link to our latest Tea Break video on YouTube and another for the ALEXON website. Also available is the downloadable desktop app, Zappar Studio, where the possibilities for creating these AR experiences seems only limited by your imagination and creativity.

zappar-app-demo

But before you get carried away, Casper reminded us that when creating AR content you must consider the 3 C’s for success: The right Context, a clear Call to Action, and killer Content.

Here is a great example of how Zappar used AR to enhance the shopping experience of families in ASDA stores during Easter, through an interactive Easter egg hunt.

Casper’s talk certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities of AR in marketing. Whilst the app does represent a barrier to the content, in that users must find and download it in order to engage with the content, the process of downloading the app and launching it for the first time was extremely quick.

Next up to speak was Nick Emmel, Strategy Partner at digital agency Mr President, to talk about his experience of testing the real value of new innovations like the Internet of Things (IOT) and wearables. Nick started with an interesting point about innovation and technology: “In a world of new opportunity, don’t do what you can do, do what you should do”. This really resonated with me, as I remember all too well the days of brands jumping on the app bandwagon and racing to get something on the App store, for no other reason than to just have an app. In some cases apps were launched that did nothing more than the website already offered.

Nick shared a great recent example of this, the Samsung Smart Fridge, otherwise known by its catchy model name, the RSG309. The connected fridge allows its owners to use a range of apps on its impressive 8” LCD, including notes, photos, music, weather, and Twitter. The only question I can really ask is, why? What’s the point? I love the idea of a connected fridge that knows when my milk supply is low and orders me more, or perhaps it knows what is in the fridge and can suggest a recipe based on its contents, but I can’t see how being able to Tweet from my fridge is in any way enhancing my experience of it. Nick from Mr President agreed.

Samsung -smart -fridge -apps

Nick went on to share another recent example, something which I happen to like very much. Amazon Dash Button launched on 31st March 2015, and due to the timing many thought it was an early April Fool’s joke, instead it was a real product designed to make ordering products easier and faster. Each Dash Button, available for $4.99, is branded and linked to a single product on Amazon. The button can be attached to a suitable area in the house, for example on the washing machine for washing tablets, and when supplies are low the owner can simply press the button and forget about it. The small electronic device places an order for the product which is then delivered the very next day. There are a huge number of buttons available for various brands across household supplies, beverages, health and personal care, and groceries.

Amazon -dash -button

It’s clear from these examples alone that in 2015 more and more brands are adopting new technologies, such as AR and the IOT, but for every great execution there appears to be as many bad ones. We are in the age of the consumer, where brands are investing more time and money than ever before on their servicing their customers. Therefore it’s important that new technologies are used to enhance the customer experience, rather than add layers, barriers and complexities to it.

I really enjoyed the evening and I’d highly recommended that everyone checks out the next meetup on Tuesday 8th December, ‘Implementing successful content strategy’. See you there!