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Convergence catches business asleep

Convergence is not a new concept, but the extent to which it is enabling consumers to live connected lifestyles has caught many organisations by surprise, says FRANK RIZZO of KPMG.

Even though consumers have access to a multitude of devices, ranging from smartphones to tablets, to book readers and ultra books, the trend is that all these devices are designed to empower users to get what they want, when they want it.

Gone are the days of ‚speeds and feeds’ when users wanted the fastest processors or the best graphics card. Today, users care about how the device enables them to digitally interact with one another and generate and consume content.

In many ways, consumer convergence has leapfrogged that of the business environment and is forcing organisations to re-evaluate their business models to adapt to the challenges of the always-connected world.

The converged lifestyle

KPMG recently published The Converged Lifestyle: Consumers and Convergence 5. In the report, the company examined consumer preferences and biases to identify the most critical trends for organisations that want to understand what the converged lifestyle is all about.

The converged lifestyle sees two key trends. Firstly, with users having all the devices they need to connect and interact with technology, they feel that their suppliers need to adapt and keep up with them. Secondly, we are seeing a shift in how work and personal lives of people are being separated again.

The business and personal split is becoming more clinical than in the past.

With the rise of social media, people are using different platforms to meet specific needs. Facebook is used as a personal tool where people interact with their friends. When it comes to LinkedIn, the environment is professional with networking and business interaction the order of the day.

Organisations that succeed in this space will be the ones that consumers trust. Traditional businesses have not quite made the leap, but there are certain industries that are moving fast to embrace this new world.

Banking on change

‚Innovation’ and ‚fast-moving’ are not two terms generally associated with the current global banking industry. In South Africa, the local banking industry is embracing social media in an era of PayPal, eBay, and the like. They are coming up with new ways of engaging with their existing client base and targeting new clients.

There are many examples of how local banks are using social media platforms to interact with their customers. However, the use and application of social media data also raises a number of questions for banks that must be addressed before they can start taking advantage of this information.

Firstly, the validity of user-generated data from social media is notoriously difficult to confirm. Banks should consider the type of analysis they might need to verify the actual value of the data and whether it is representative of their customers’ actual lives, demands and feedback.

With social media being increasingly adopted in the banking industry, data from these platforms will increasingly become commoditised and will diminish in value over time. Banks will need to adjust and adapt their analysis mechanisms continuously to be able to extract information that will provide a competitive advantage.

Data challenges

Banks, like any other industry, are also faced with effectively managing the sheer volume of data. In addition, this means that the data could be used in such a way as to support almost every possible scenario.

Due to its open nature, social media can easily be corrupted. Outside data could be fed in to social media channels from competitors that could not only impact brand reputation, but can also lead organisations to distrust the data in the first place.

Finally, ownership of social media data is a critical question for many industries. Given that the data resides in the public domain, banks may well wonder whether they need to own the data to properly conduct and use their analysis.

The converged lifestyle has empowered consumers who are increasingly vocal about their preferences and demands. Businesses that are able to gauge and respond to this evolving consumer relationship will ultimately build stronger relationships and gain the critical trust of their customers.


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