As companies seek more ways to reach customers, the role of digital agencies will expand from just being tactical implementers to giving extensive strategic input across the business says BRADLEY ELLIOTT, director at digital creative consultancy Platinum Seed.
According to the Forrester’s 2017 Customer Experience (CX) Index, 30% of companies will see declines in the quality of their customer experience performance in 2018, placing their businesses at risk.
The report explains that customer expectations will outpace companies’ ability to evolve or invent experiences. This slow pace of transformation means companies can’t adjust fast enough or well enough.
The smart executives will be the ones to take proactive steps in turning their customer experience platforms into portals for truly compelling and meaningful engagements with customers.
As digital agencies and consultancies seek to gain distinction over competitors, the following seven trends will drive the development of digital in 2018:
- Data will fall
South Africa has some of the highest data tariffs in the world, restricting access to cutting edge applications at work and home. Due to pressure by #datamustfall campaigners, network operators have begun the long-overdue process of drastically cutting data prices, granting easier access to broadband Internet to South Africans, particularly the youth.
- The rise of online video
As data prices decline, video content is becoming an increasingly dominant part of the Internet, with video making up 74% of all Internet traffic in 2017, according to a recent report. This is set to increase further, with brands investing more on video across their functional divisions.
- Marrying tech with creativity
As marketing and core business functionality become increasingly intertwined, companies are breaking down the silos that separate their various divisions. Creative agencies and tech consultancies alike will need to offer integrated digital platforms with a range of applications, including admin, logistics and marketing. The various tools will be integrated into a single experience that takes the user seamlessly from the initial moment of gaining awareness about a brand or offer, to placing an order, tracking it, delivery, and after-sales service and monitoring.
- The Technology Revolution – IoT, AI and robotics
- Big data analytics will become a vital input into marketing efforts and key business decisions, enabling the offering of targeted and personalised offers to customers through preferred channels. Automated artificial intelligence (AI) systems will allow much better precision and accuracy, improving click-through-rates and sales.
- Feeding in the Internet of Things (IoT), the online world will extend further into urban planning through Smart City technology that connects public infrastructure such as traffic lights with smart devices such as vehicles and mobile phones. Already gaining momentum are location-based social platforms like traffic and navigation app Waze, which offers motorists the easiest and fastest routes to their destinations. At home, devices such as the Amazon Echo smart speaker, a voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant, offer a wide range of weather, radio, music streaming, shopping and general search services, offering deeper and richer connectivity to the online world.
- Using AI, robotics will take on increasingly complex tasks, such as online retail delivery using drones, autonomous transport and hi-tech assembly and maintenance.
- Real Influencers
The flooded world of social media calls for brands to demand more out of their influencer programmes than just well-known faces. AI technology such as Continuon can identify the most active individuals who drive the conversation around a brand on social media. While not as famous as celebrity influencers, they are authentic in their engagement and effective in their ability to drive a meaningful campaign.
A host of new channels, devices and technologies are set to enter the market in 2018, however the overall trend is towards more personalised and meaningful engagements that recognise a long-term relationship between a brand and its customers and employees.
Using these tools and trends, digital marketers and tech consultants will be able to stay on the cutting edge at each step of evolution. Advanced technology will be meaningless without the intention of creating a world that enables the lives of consumers rather than clutters them.
New iPhone pricing for SA
The iStore has announced that the latest iPhones, the Xs and Xs Max, can now be pre-ordered at www.myistore.co.za , and will be available in stores starting 28 September 2018.
|iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max feature 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch Super Retina displays that offer remarkable brightness and true blacks while showing 60 percent greater dynamic range in HDR photos. iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max have an improved dual camera system that offers breakthrough photo and video features, A12 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine, faster Face ID, wider stereo sound, longer battery life, splash and water resistance,
Pre-orders will be open for cash purchases and on iStore’s revised payment plan in partnership with FNB Credit Card, allowing customers to pay off their iPhone at a reduced interest rate. However, the contract period is 37 months rather than the usual 24 months.
Accenture opens Fjord design centre in Johannesburg
Accenture has launched its first design and innovation studio on African soil, Fjord Johannesburg.
The company says the move significantly expands its design capabilities and demonstrates its commitment to unlocking Africa’s innovation potential through the creation of experiences that redefine industries in our constantly evolving digital era.
The new studio, opening in November, will be located at Accenture’s new 3875m² offices in Waterfall. It will be led by Marcel Rossouw, design director and studio lead for Fjord Johannesburg.
Said Rossouw, “Brands are constantly asking, ’how does one take a business need or problem, build that out into a definition of a service experience, and then bring it to market?’ It’s about re-engineering existing service experiences, identifying customer needs, prototyping rapidly, iterating often and proving or disproving assumptions. But it’s also about getting feedback from customers. The combination of these factors helps companies advance towards the ultimate service experience.”
Fjord is the design and innovation consultancy of Accenture Interactive. The Johannesburg location marks its 28th design studio globally, solidifying its position as the world’s leading design powerhouse.
Working in the same location as Accenture Interactive will allow Fjord to fuse its core design strategy DNA with the digital agency’s expertise in marketing, content and commerce to create and deliver the best customer experiences for the world’s leading brands.
Accenture Interactive Africa‘s blend of intelligent design and creative use of technology has already been used by some of South Africa’s largest and most prominent brands, including Alexander Forbes, Discovery, MultiChoice and Nedbank. The digital agency has also earned industry accolades for its innovative and compelling business results, most notably two gold awards in the Service Design category at the 2017 and 2018 Loeries awards.
“Great design tells great stories,” says Wayne Hull, managing director of Accenture Digital and Accenture Interactive lead in Africa. “It unifies a brand, drives innovation and makes the brand or service distinctive and hyper-relevant in both the digital and physical worlds. This is critical to achieving results. Having Fjord Johannesburg as part of Accenture Interactive, and collaborating with all of Accenture Africa, will provide unique experiences and forward-thinking capabilities for our clients.”
“Businesses in South Africa are becoming more design-aware and are looking to take greater advantage of design skills to compete with the rest of the world,” said Thomas Müller, head of Europe, Africa and Latin America at Fjord. “We’re excited to open our first design studio on the continent and to be part of an emerging market that is ripe for design and innovation, and open for business. Developing markets like South Africa are challenging assumptions and norms about what digital services and products are meant to be, and we’ll strive to put design at the heart of the innovation being produced there.”