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Trust or bust for brands

Trading data is the new value exchange. Consumers are getting smarter at engaging in the interconnected world and where their data is shared. Yet, the rapid rise in cybercrime is fuelled by cybercriminals trying to exploit this data to sell for profit on the black market, writes MARTIN WALSHAW, SE Team Lead, Sub-Saharan Africa, at F5.

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Apps are the gateway to vital information, so maintaining user identity is more important than ever. With changing attitudes towards cybersecurity and brand reputations at stake, many business leaders need to ask themselves an important question: Do customers today trust you to protect their data and will that brand loyalty remain in the future?

Data is the new value asset

A single hack can set reputations back as the magnitude of a cyber breach can result in severe losses to revenues. In recent times, large scale cyber-attacks have affected companies of all sizes across retail, banking, manufacturing, media and many other industries. Firms can no longer rely on traditional IT infrastructure because technological innovation and malicious hackers are exposing weaknesses in the system through sophisticated techniques, including malware and encryption. Companies need to rethink their security strategy and plan longer-term to safeguard customer loyalty.

Although innovative technology, such as the internet of things (IoT), has delivered tremendous progress, data breaches to inadequately protected devices and networks can quickly erode consumer confidence, which could take extensive resources to regain. A recent European report conducted by Opinium interviewed six thousand consumers covering the UK, Germany and France. The report revealed interesting findings, including two out of five people in the UK would not purchase smart technology for their home over hacking fears. The survey interviewed British citizens who expressed growing concerns over apps collecting their data and the platforms hackers are targeting today. In addition, almost half were most wary about leading social media sites collecting their data, whilst 58% believe it is the app that hackers will exploit to target them as consumers.

Attitudes towards being cyber-safe are changing rapidly. The Opinium survey also revealed that 74% of Brits now check their security measures when downloading apps, 88% check the security of banking apps and 90% with shopping apps, especially with concerns related to credit card fraud. As consumers become more discerning and vigilant about protecting their credentials, the demands on businesses will increase to prove that their service is robust, compliant and safe. It is quite conceivable that consumers will soon in the future differentiate brands based on their ability to protect data and whether they have the necessary security controls in place. The Opinium survey highlighted that over four fifths (82%) of German adults say they would be concerned about their financial data being hacked with half (51%) worried about their passport being hacked. In comparison, over four fifths (83%) of French adults say they would be concerned about their financial data being hacked with half (52%) worried about their National Insurance Number being hacked.

A company’s reputation will only survive and thrive if it understands consumer behaviour and implements a comprehensive security architecture to meet demands and safeguard sensitive information. Understanding risk, accessing, storing, processing, analysing, protecting and appropriately deleting customer data are mandatory for data compliance and demonstrating a strong security posture. It is essential for businesses to have the flexibility to quickly adapt to evolving trends, support new apps, accommodate a growing mobile community and maximise operational efficiency. In fact, studies have shown that the emotional state of users to network delays and data breaches for even very minor hiccups can cause stress and dissatisfaction. Looking ahead, consumers will know their data has intrinsic value and, as responsible cyber citizens, become more discerning about selecting services.

Getting smarter

In the future, data protection and identity preservation will be at the heart of people’s choices when purchasing goods on-line, selecting a banking investment and even sharing credentials with local authorities. The digital economy is driving increased reliance on application services and forward thinking companies are implementing integrated security ecosystems to mitigate cyberattacks and fraud. A failure to scale the security architecture, safeguard and successfully manage customer credentials will be detrimental to a brand’s reputation.

Now ask yourself another question considering digital economic trends: Does my business have the right applications security solutions, which can keep customers happy? Remember, the way organisations deal with data will be a commercial differentiator for consumers. Now is the time to secure the trust.

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

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

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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