As part of MEC Google Week we got to head down to Google Glass Basecamp to learn more about the product and literally – get our glass on.
Google Glass basecamp is strategically located in the super trendy and up and coming Kings Cross. By their own admission the current Google Glass product is an early prototype, so the half built nature of the surrounding landscape served a fitting backdrop.
I’ll admit to initially being fairly cynical about glass as a product. Perhaps working in social media has made me learn stark lessons about not believing the hype – witnessing highly acclaimed products be here today…and gone tomorrow, differentiating between fads and sustainable trends, and most importantly appreciating the importance of new digital products and services answering a need or playing a very specific role with an individual’s (very busy and cluttered) digital ecosystem.
I was recently invited to take part in a debate in New York with the grand title “When Big Data meets Big Creativity.”
You know when you read a formula like that — when Big This meets Big That — something big and bad is supposed to happen. Like matter meeting anti-matter and making the universe disappear in one huge stellar bang. It implies that data and creativity are polar opposites, enemies forever at war like the Montagues and Capulets. Romeo Montague is data, Juliet Capulet is creativity. And ne’er the twain shall meet. That’s the theory anyway. And obviously, as a creative, I’m expected to sympathize with Juliet. After all, data is cold and clinical and soulless, isn’t it? And modern, too. Whereas creativity is warm, human, timeless and beautiful. Normally, you wouldn’t expect to catch a creative waxing lyrical about data.
Two forces drive the growth of technology: evolution and disruption. Innovators can either build upon the work and ideas of others to further their chosen field or they can completely redefine it.
While the headlines often follow those who break new ground, society can gain an equal amount of utility from incremental improvements. GroupM’s NEXT Mobility describes 10 companies in the process of changing the modern mobile world as we know it in its Mobility’s NEXT Wave.
The Pivot to Passiveis the future of consumer digital technology, and with it will come a consumer marketplace more like the one that existed before the internet than after. This is not because of any attenuation of technology, but because the inexorable advance of digital technology is returning the balance of power, influence and control to marketers.
SAP: Global mobile data reseller through 365: Singtel and Lusacell Facutal: Global geo-location data provider with coverage of 60 million locations PlacedIQ: Geo-location and analytics provider in the US Verve: Geo-location and analytics provider in the US Placed: Geo-location and analytics provider in the US
Mutual Mobile Otter: Otter is a visual tool to quickly analyse iOS applications through data from the iOS App Store Trendsmap: What is trending on Twitter
BrandSnap: Daily social data on 1,700+ brands Listening Platform: Wunderman’s real-time social media actioning platform Zipline: A cooperative database of assets covering 190 million consumers DataSift: Global social data on 20+ platforms available through a single portal Grab Analytics : Global data on 120 million game users and usage App Annie: Performance measurement for more than 500K publishers across 400K apps Distimo: Global performance measurement Gnip: Social data aggregator Adobe Test & Target: Data to customise digital experiences Unmetric: Social benchmarking Google Now
I’ve helped businesses and organisations of all sizes and across many sectors build analytics operations, and there is a consistent pattern: somebody with time and money hires a consultancy or asks in-house resources to mine an insight or two from organisational data. Those insights become a memo or slide deck presented along with a recommended action to the boss. Those insights are the first data spark. But, without leadership fuelling the fire – really the hardest part on the path to being more data-driven – the spark may extinguish.
As Data Manager for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, I was nestled in the IT department and responsible for care and feeding of our various databases. In June of 2007, the search engine marketing manager asked me if I could calculate total net contributions of donors who originally came in through an SEM placement. Looking at several separate databases, I reported our receipt of $165,134.08 from these people. Since far less than that amount had been spent on SEM up to that point, this spark of insight led to two fateful resourcing decisions by the campaign manager:
Ramp up investment in SEM (and, ultimately, the whole New Media budget), and
Pay some people to mine more data-based efficiency-finding insights.
In the above example, the key critical factor in determining the fate of the effort was buy-in from leadership. When the boss creates and enforces a mandate, the company will evolve around the data and realise benefits from becoming research-driven. Often, conflict between the established order and a new data-driven decision-making program will require more hands-on attention from leadership. But if an organisation is just getting started, analytics can become part of the established operational reality from the beginning. It’s not surprising that some of the biggest innovations around data-driven communications and marketing over the last decade have been brought into the mainstream by upstart, disruptive political campaigns. These ephemeral endeavours have nothing to lose and very little entrenched “wisdom” to protect: consumer segmentation and predictive modelling tactics were explored with great success by the George W. Bush campaigns of 2000 and 2004; A/B testing of e-mails helped drive fundraising numbers on Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign; real-time, in-cycle experiment informed programs were pushed and perfected by Barack Obama’s efforts in 2008 and 2012. The data and analytics operations embedded with these efforts shared certain characteristics: common mission alignment among staff, lack of entrenched opposition, high incentive to innovate, and low incentive to avoid risk. But on campaigns as with businesses and in non-profits, large-scale analytics operations begin as one person or one small team beginning to explore the quantitative possibilities of data they already work with on a daily basis, proving the concept and sparking the fire. The first step could be matching a customer list against social media to learn what customers pay attention to online; appending consumer data to accounting data in order to understand profit and loss (and opportunities) by customer gender, age, and income; or using e-mail subscription time-of-day to inform timing of marketing e-mail deliveries. Each of these bite-sized data research projects could yield small insights and in turn deliver significant bottom-line impact. Once the analytics seed is planted, the best first investment a company or organisation can make toward creating a successful analytics operation may not be in server hardware or consulting smarts, but in fostering a risk-tolerant atmosphere and creating an executive mandate for organisational adoption.
In October, I attended a mobile conference where the wearable tech Google Glass was being demoed. To say the least, I was underwhelmed with my user experience. I know it would be foolish to this dismiss the eyewear on this basis – after all the first mobile telephone was carried like a briefcase by a stockbroker’s chauffeur.
What struck me was one enduring word – mobile. We spend a lot of time these days trying to define things. (Don’t get me started on big data.) The moving goal posts of technology and culture make our jelly-nailing an unfortunate necessity. In the case of mobile, its morphing definition bears some scrutiny because it heralds a necessary change in mind-set.
In the year 2000 when we said mobile we meant mobile phone. Toward the end of the noughties, the tablet and its infinite variants came along and confused us. It too was portable and quite often functioned as a telephone, but it no longer looked like a phone and it was no longer just a phone.
By 2010, what we really meant by mobile was mobile device: phone, tablet or laptop.
The move to mobile computing set us on our trajectory of increasing technology density – more sensors, more computing power, and thinner and faster devices. With the increase in density came our moment-to-moment reliance on mobile.
Mobile devices, particularly the phone, act as dashboards to our lives. It’s not surprising we check our phones close to 110 times per day, according to a study by Locket.
The device gene pool is growing more varied (enter the phablet) as Darwinian forces of utility, services and hardware costs drive us toward a better user experience. Meanwhile, potential game-changers are hovering in the wings.
Might foldable screens create a split in the phylogenetic tree that relegates the tablet to Neanderthal status? Or will eyewear like Google Glass eventually consign the screen size question to the history books?
Wearable (mobile) technology may herald something more profound, taking us toward an inflection point where the density trend is reversed.
Two technologies under the spotlight this year – Samsung’s watch and Google Glass – are an acknowledgment that the features of a mobile don’t necessarily need to reside in the same place. Assuming Google Glass becomes more elegant, it does make sense to have the screen and microphone up there by the eyes and mouth instead of in our pocket; and why not put some of the sensors, like the compass and accelerometer on our wrist?
If this trend develops, our future screen time could be distributed still further, beyond personal devices. As more digital displays appear in our environment – on the back of train seats, on desks in meeting rooms or in retail spaces – the need to reach into the pocket will be further reduced.
Parallel drivers of this trend will be biometrics and digital identity. Only when I can be quickly identified – for example by thumb, iris or the NFC chip in my watch – can I flit between screens, accessing my data and services without the need for a personal device with a screen.
On this basis, the implied suffix for mobile would no longer be phone, tablet or computer….but data.
We might be headed for a kind of Big Bang which sees the densely packed mobile computer reach critical mass and explode out to multiple personal and non-personal devices – and fears about losing one’s device replaced by fear of being locked out one’s data.
Like the literal Big Bang, this expansion would take place over time – initially wearables might connect by Bluetooth to pocket devices and of course older demographics will cling to the one-device paradigm as determinedly as they currently cling to their PC.
This type of evolution would have serious implications for the advertising and marketing business. The liquidity of content and how we consume could change radically. Individuals who worked hard to get to grips with planning and evaluating the mobile channel might reasonably regard this possible future with trepidation.
Whilst we are using applications to capture behavioural data from mobile, tablets and computers, this approach would become unviable with further device fragmentation, particularly as non-personal screen time increases.
Cookie-based behaviour tracking has served us well on web, but is already under threat in the mobile context and has an uncertain future in a more diverse UI ecosystem.
Almost certainly we will need to start fishing further up river. For example, by partnering with mobile network operators or monitoring WIFI traffic in the home. Neither gives us the full picture, but both go beyond the device specific. We may see multiple upstream data sources being necessary to get the full 360 digital view.
There would also be implications for surveys – whose death has been prematurely forecast more than a few times. Adapting them to be more bite-sized for mobile is the current refrain, but a move away from personal devices will add further complexity.
Challenging though the transition to mobile is it is, at least notionally, a single channel.
Director of Innovation Alex Johnson is a market research technologist with 13 years in Kantar. His doctor tells him either to abandon his preoccupation with semantic correctness or change career.
He points out that new methods of crunching ‘Vast Data Sources’ to reveal meaning will give us the ability to understand our customers and prospects as individuals. Then if we can figure out how to deliver individually relevant content and service to 50 million customers, let’s say, on a daily or on-demand basis, we will have arrived at that nirvana of brand/customer relationship. Read more here.