We were recently interviewed for this new Forrester report on the impact of emerging technologies on designers, marketers and end-users, the way this shifts how people digitally engage with physical things and how those things communicate with other connected objects around them. (Needless to say we’re pretty happy to have been named in the report as part of this connected physical/digital ecosystem, alongside some of the biggest technology players).
Here’s a quick seven point tour through the most interesting bits of the report and the ideas it provoked.
1. More and more of our everyday media and service experiences are digital. Shopping for instance. Even if we still buy things in physical stores, some online research is likely to have taken place before the purchase (not to mention ‘show-rooming’ on smartphones as shoppers compare prices in-store), and post-purchase recommendations will almost inevitably be socially-connected.
2. All this activity leaves a digital trail, from Instagram snaps to product reviews and Facebook, Foursquare or TopTable check-ins. So what happens when this digital data trail and our online activities become interconnected with the physical objects and environments we’re interacting with?
3. Smart objects can open up entirely new consumer journeys and deeper, more personalized content and service experiences. Not to mention many new types of data, hence we’re seeing the development of predictive analytics to determine emotional need states to second-guess moods and create greater relevance.
4. Why can’t my cycling gear (clothing, shoes, water bottle etc.) communicate with my bike and between them pull in data about local weather, traffic, recommended amount of water intake, and so on. Then knowing that I may (theoretically of course ;-)) have put on a couple of pounds recently, come up with an appropriate journey on my smartphone, suggesting a good pub (based on the weather and my menu preference) as a halfway point? It could also measure biometric data like sweat output, heart rate and breathing to tell me if I’m going too hard, or my water bottle could tell me I’m taking on too much water, or not enough.
5. Designing new experiences through these emerging technologies and channels becomes, say Forrester, the new marketing. Interactivity, specialised use cases with smart objects and wearables, journey maps or immersive experiences will all be adding value to a customer’s experience and therefore become the marketing channel.
6. Consumer behaviour and engagement with brands, Forrester’s report proposes, will be through software, as people won’t want deep and meaningful relationships with hundreds of brands, they will just want useful products wrapped in digital services to support their lifestyle.
7. It makes sense to us that this is how successful brands will operate and define their value in the future. By making products smart, brands turn their products into software. Which means the products can exist as intelligent web objects while remaining beautifully designed physical objects, and interact with and be customized for those who make, sell and use them.