One minute with… Ilona van Wegen, Industry Head of Omnichannel Retail and Brands at Google

Ilona van Wegen is driven by a desire to help brands connect more directly with their customers. She believes that building a strong relationship with the consumer should be at the forefront of future planning, and that digital transformation is the key to this bond.

Ilona van Wegen takes inspiration from the speed with which technology is adopted in today’s world, and the way it is shaping our future.

For Ilona van Wegen, the future is all about data. “Companies need to learn how to leverage the data they already have, but also to team up and source it from elsewhere. I strongly believe that by working together with companies like Google, we can all be more successful,” she says.

She’s particularly fascinated by what Asian countries are currently doing with Artificial Intelligence. “We can learn a lot from the way they’re leveraging technology like facial recognition. In China, for example, you can pull a smile to pay your bill. How amazing is that? And in Japan, you have retail companies delivering personalised, custom-made fashion using AI to take customers’ measurements.”

She takes inspiration from the speed with which technology is adopted in today’s world, and the way it is shaping our future. “My own kids, who are seven and nine, use voice recognition to speak to Google Home, communicating with machines easily and naturally and finding it completely normal. For millennials, YouTube channels and YouTube content have become the norm, which is so different from, say, 10-20 years ago when we were all still just watching TV.”

According to the data, she says, the consumer is changing: becoming more curious, demanding, and impatient. “To meet these needs, companies must be present, be useful - by which I mean personalised - and be fast.”

One minute with… web psychologist Nathalie Nahai