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Voice of digital consumer growing louder

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The voice of the digital consumer is growing by the day and service providers need to respond by aligning digital capabilities with operations, technology and strategy, writes WAYNE HULL of Accenture Digital.

The collective voice of today’s dynamic digital consumers is growing louder, compelling goods and services providers to respond with enhanced organisational agility across their entire businesses. This means connecting the dots throughout the business by aligning digital capabilities with operations, technology and strategy.

In South Africa and globally, digital disruption is reinventing consumer expectations. This is driven by factors such as “always on” connectivity, pervasive social media, the rapid rise of voice recognition and artificial intelligence, and increasingly interactive user experiences across the entire customer lifecycle as well as across all channels.

Consumers expect their experience to adapt whenever they engage physically, digitally and emotionally. Today, advanced computing techniques can harness expanding volumes of personal data – search, social, geo-tagged sensors, payments, shopping carts, speech – to create the magic behind new hyper-personalised experiences.

A 2017 Accenture Digital Consumer Survey of 26,000 consumers in 26 countries, including South Africa, revealed four key findings about today’s digital consumers.

Artificial intelligence

Firstly, artificial intelligence is playing a central role in consumers’ lives. Consumers habitually use AI-driven features such as digital voice assistants. An overwhelming 84% of the 14- to 17-year olds surveyed currently use or are interested in using the voice-enabled digital assistant in their smartphone and about one-third of consumers in every age group are interested in these features.

In addition, consumers are increasingly comfortable interacting with AI-enabled capabilities, with 52% of all consumers interacting with their service providers through live chats or mobile messaging apps on a monthly basis and 85% of those saying it feels like it is easier to get in touch through these methods. Three out of five South African respondents interact with their service providers in these ways, with 89% of these saying they are a better way of getting in touch.

Engaging experiences

Secondly, engaging experiences are spurring the demand for smartphones. After dropping to a five-year low of 48% globally in 2016, consumer purchase intent rebounded by 6% globally in this year’s survey. In South Africa, there is an even more dramatic increase in consumer purchase intent from 52% in 2016 to 63% in 2017. A combination of factors could be contributing to this, but new experiences enabled by augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are central.

New features and improved functionality are key drivers for smartphone purchases, globally and in South Africa. In fact, “accessing the newest and most innovative features” rose by 10% globally and 8% in South Africa as a primary reason as to why consumers are planning to purchase a new smartphone next year.

Consistent with their interest in hyper-personalisation, consumers have shown strong enthusiasm for AR and VR-enabled games for smartphones.  They are also interested in a range of AR/VR applications beyond gaming.

Globally, these include learning new skills (34%), meeting virtually with remote friends/family (29%), getting localised information about places they are visiting (28%) and viewing 3D manuals 28%. The results differ somewhat for South African respondents, who are interested learning new skills (55%), visualising clothes (40%), viewing 3D manuals (39%) and getting localised information about places they are visiting (38%).

New access models

Thirdly, a potentially dramatic shift in how people are buying and accessing devices and services is imminent. Consumers have strong interest – globally 77% and in South Africa 83% – in new device acquisition models, such as leasing/renting and used phone purchasing. More than three-quarters of global consumers who plan to purchase a smartphone are open to other ways of accessing a new phone.

eSIM2 may also affect purchase cycles and carriers’ relations with consumers as the chip allows device owners to compare networks and select services at will, directly from the device.

Managing data

Fourthly, consumers want to be more engaged in managing their data. Despite successful efforts to increase data security, consumer confidence in the security of their personal data is eroding. When it comes to personalised services, top consumer concerns include the security of financial data (90% globally and 93% in South Africa) and identity theft.

Accenture’s survey shows that 87% of consumers globally and 94% of South African respondents believe it is important to be able to review and control their personal data online, but three quarters of these do not find it easy to manage their data. Consumers also indicate they are not sure about who to trust as service providers as those considered most trusted in the past have declined in consumer confidence. Trust in device manufacturers has however grown.

It is now critical for companies to find ways to maintain trust as consumers sort out who to trust and how to operate in a digital world that is increasingly dependent on their sharing of personal data.

Capturing dynamic digital consumers

As AI takes centre stage as a key enabler, hyper-personalised services that deliver on today’s dynamic digital consumers’ expectations will need to constantly adapt and evolve.

As consumers rapidly adapt to these heightened experiences, their intrigue with AR/VR-enabled functionality may pull device demand along – at least in the short term – although this may not always emerge in the form of brand new devices.

In addition, as new access models evolve, doors will open to new types of interaction with consumers and new ways of nurturing the customer relationship.

Amidst all this hyper-personalisation effort, transparency is critical. Personalisation is only relevant if it accurately assesses and meets customer needs and this is dependent on understanding the personal data shared by consumers. Transparency in how customer data is collected, used and shared will be mandatory to gaining consumer confidence, as will empowering them to maintain control of their own data.

* Wayne Hull, Managing Director and Head of Accenture Digital for South and Sub-Saharan Africa

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

Click here or on the page link below to read on: Page 2: Soldiers and Health in 2099.

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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Street art goes electric

Kaspersky Lab and British street artist D*Face have unveiled the first-ever “art helmet” design at the Formula E finale for electric cars in New York.

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The ‘Save The World’ helmets will be raced by DS Virgin Racing’s drivers, Sam Bird and Alex Lynn, as they traverse the New York street circuit during the final races of the Formula E season.

The announcement signals the first art helmet by a Formula E team, continuing the heritage of art in motorsport and the cybersecurity brand’s commitment to contemporary art, creativity and innovation. D*Face took inspiration from Kaspersky Lab’s tagline, “A Company To Save The World”, and hopes that his colourful work will inspire people to take positive action.

D*Face will announce his first-ever art car design with a custom-made livery for the DS Virgin Racing Team. Its design will be released at the “Art Goes Green” event after Saturday’s race. The helmets and art car are the latest installations in the “Save the World” collection, following a major permanent public mural that was installed in Brooklyn, New York, in May.

D*Face, whose real name is Dean Stockton, said: “It is exciting to work with Kaspersky Lab on this project and create art with a real message of hope for a better future. After all, this is our world and we need to look after it. It will take every one of us to make a real lasting, impactful change. I love the mentality of the DS Virgin Racing Team and that of Formula E by showcasing sport in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, but is still just as exhilarating and fun.

“It is time for us all to stand together and make a change… be that stopping data steals, climate change, plastic waste or using damaging fuels. I want everyone to make a pledge to do one thing that will help make a change.”

As a sponsor of DS Virgin Racing Team, Kaspersky Lab is responsible for protecting the team’s devices against cyber threats. The company sees the technical environment in the global sport of Formula E as the next frontier in furthering its research and development of new technologies to keep vehicles secure in the digital world.

Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director at DS Virgin Racing, said: “The whole team fully supports this great initiative and our thanks got to Kaspersky and D*Face for their collaboration. It’s an honour to have such an innovative artist bring his talents to bear in our team ahead of the season-finale; the car, drivers’ crash helmets and mural all look amazing.”

Aldo Fucelli Pessot del Bo, Head of Global Partnerships and Sponsorships at Kaspersky Lab added: “There is a need for innovation on a global scale, both in contemporary art and in the fast-growing sport of Formula E. Now, for the first time ever, Kaspersky Lab is proudly bringing together the two sectors in an effort to Save the World and unleash creativity, encourage freedom of expression and further innovation.”

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