Google's Head of Global Entrepreneurship, Mary Grove, interprets what the latest research really tells us about the internet's contribution to economic growth.

March 2015

According to a survey of 4,000 marketers by Econsultancy, the top two digital trends in 2020 are going to be focused on customer experience (24%) and personalisation (23%). Those trends encompass myriad opportunities. They are indicative of a general strategic shift within companies towards greater customer centricity. The more specific sub-trends driving the move to customer experience are three-fold:

  1. The rise of creativity and design
  2. Marketing as a service
  3. Connecting the dots

Creativity and design

"The last twenty years we have all been in love with technology but we're at a point now that we have plenty of it. The problem is what we do with it. There is a reawakening that the people who can come up with the experiences are increasingly valuable to organisations," notes Econsultancy Founder, Ashley Friedlein.

The travel sector in particular has been able to tap into the experiential potential of mobile. United Airlines Terminal C hub uses 6,000 tablets across lounges and at 75% of the gates. Customers can order from their seat at 55 of the airport's restaurants and check their flight status. HotelTonight uses mobile check-in as well as turning the device into a room key. With creativity it is eminently possible to deliver enhanced customer and brand experience, simultaneously.

However while creativity is enticing, Chief Marketing Officer of (WRI) Ottokar Rosenberger points out: "Having mobile remember your search and let you pick it up across device is one of the basics it's important to get right."

Marketing as a service

Speaking to the personalisation trend, this is about the combining of data at infrastructure level: taking data, applying business logic and delivering it back to customers and prospects. Friedlein notes: "Marketing will become like this not least because it is scalable and more efficient but can still be localised and personalised."

Brands can exploit this even through video, as demonstrated by Nike's FuelBand campaign, that produced videos based on individuals' running data for the year. Videos included a potential 100,000 different variants including wealth, location and personal metrics.

Connecting the dots

"Digital being part of everything raises many challenges - silos, skills, technology and processes," Friedlein reveals. Isobar Global Commercial Strategy And Network Development Martin Baillie suggests a tactic: "Have data, client, technology and design or UX people get together and iterate forever until they find a solution. You become extremely lean and fast at finding out what works."

He advises testing in real time - in a client briefing, test assumptions on PPC clicks, for example, by logging into AdWords during the meeting. "Ideas and beautiful experiences don't come from sitting around a table, they come from tests."

The need to tackle these three trends by 2020 should not be underestimated, Friedlein warns: "That is the strategic battleground for the future. It's where competitive advantage lies."