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Customers enter new relevance era

A new study by Accenture shows that, heading into the third decade of the 21st century, consumers want more from a brand than mere relevance, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Before Netflix, there was Blockbuster, the world’s best-know video store. Before YouTube, people looked for life hacks (then called life lessons) in Reader’s Digest. And before the digital camera became the most used feature on your smartphone, there was Kodak. 

These are all organisations that went into bankruptcy despite once owning their respective worlds. And we’re not even talking about the last few years, in which the frenzied pace of disruption has threatened thousands more businesses.

The bottom line is this: It doesn’t matter how big a company is today; if it doesn’t meet the needs of its customers, it may not exist a few years down the line. And those needs go beyond merely the features or direct benefits offered by a product.

A new study by Accenture shows that consumers want more than relevance.

“Nearly three quarters of consumer switching is driven by a lack of relevance, putting R438-billion of potential annual revenue in jeopardy,” Accenture reports. “In the era of relevance, brands can regain the high ground by expanding their marketing frameworks and re-aligning their activities to a new set of principles— beyond their comfort zones.”

At the launch of the study in Johannesburg last week, Wayne Hill, head of Accenture Digital, summed up the meaning of hyper-relevance from his own encounters with brands: “Nespresso knows who I am and it knows what I like. From an experience point of view, I walk into shop and I can smell the coffee. On the shelves, the merchandise looks like beauty products. When they package it, it’s like buying Louis Vuitton. 

“Recently I received a box of from Nespresso that included a brand linked to my place of birth. That is hyper-relevance.”

Hull gave examples like Woolworths using algorithms to predict consumer consumption, Discovery converting health insurance into wellness and health care, First National Bank creating a digital banking platform, and Cape Town drone analytics start-up Aerobotics “hyper-personalising crops”. 

“Aerobotics don’t want to know what crop is doing. They want to know what each stem is doing, and from analysis of the stem they can predict per stem what the product will look like.”

Not surprisingly, new technology is at the heart of hyper-personalisation. 

(Click here or below to read on about hyper-personalisation) More about hyper-personalisation)

“New technology is not an IT activity,” said Hull. “It has to be embedded in the customer experience.”

Michael Jordaan, founder of the wireless Internet service provider Rain and the new bank due to be launched soon, Zero, spoke at the event about the lessons he had learned while CEO of FNB.

“One of our best ad campaigns was when I said we’ll give customers an iPad at a lower price than anyone else. We didn’t want to make money from it, we just wanted people to bank on it. We sold one every 30 seconds. That changed the electronics market.”

The Accenture study, titled Welcome to the Hyper-Relevance Era, emphasises the need for executives to develop a deeper understanding of what differentiates each era. It divides the old and the new approach between the loyalty era and the relevance era. There are five key differences, according to the report:

  • The objective of the loyalty era was to create incentives for customers to become loyal members and keep making purchases. The objective of the relevance era  is to create a gravitational field that attracts customers into orbit around the brand by serving their every relevant need in every possible moment across every possible channel.
  • In the loyalty era, customers were dissuaded from re-evaluating
    their options. In the relevance era, mobile-enabled and digitally savvy customers are constantly re- evaluating their options.
  • The loyalty era was backward- looking and time-lagged; the relevance era is forward-looking and real-time. 
  • The loyalty era focused on the “what” economy, which is linked to a purchase, while the relevance era focuses on the “why” economy, which is linked to evaluation. 
  • Even the technology enablers are different: in the loyalty era it was Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software; in the relevance era its digitisation of everything.


Hull pointed out that the definition of hyper-relevance will evolve along with customer needs and habits. In the meantime, though, companies must strive to be meaningful, dynamic, dedicated, transparent, inspirational, standard-setting, omnipresent and accountable .

“Of course, these are just some of the attributes that customers have come to expect from their provider of choice in the relevance era. Relevance is and will always be a moving target. 

“For established companies in South Africa, striving for hyper-relevance might seem an insurmountable challenge, especially in an economy that has barely grown in the past decade, with fiscal missteps and corruption contributing to weak business and consumer confidence. But now is the time for leaders to make the shift to the relevance era, to lay the groundwork for major changes to their processes, organisations, and mindsets.”

(Click here or below to read Accenture’s Framework for Hyper-relevance) Framework for Hyper-relevance)

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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