Digital Customers. Customers are immersed online most of the time.

How Digital Customers Can Help You Build a Better Business

With the needs of digital consumers becoming more personal, companies must learn about their online habits and preferred channels to serve them better.

Throughout our waking hours, we filter the world through screens. Our cellphones are the first thing we check in the morning, followed by the laptops and tablets we use for work and entertainment, and perhaps a last look at our personal digital devices just before we go to sleep.

More people today are using digital devices such as smartphones, laptops/desktops and tablets, with smartphone users alone reaching 1.86 billion worldwide in 2015 and expecting to rise to 2.66 billion in 2019. The top five activities that Internet users perform with their mobile devices include e-mail, working, reading news articles/articles/books, using social media, and watching movies/videos online, indicating that the Internet is a primary source for information that digital consumers can also use to make purchase decisions.

Although an online strategy must be carefully designed before implemented, all businesses should realize that the end-users of their products are themselves taking their transactions online, morphing into digital consumers with the use of personal digital devices. Companies looking to reach their customers more efficiently will find that the Internet and connected devices allow for many opportunities to do so.
Every business transaction starts with the consumer seeking satisfaction, and with so much access to information via digital devices, needs are becoming more personal and specific. It’s necessary for enterprises to learn the habits of the digital consumer so that they can fulfill these needs, increase customer satisfaction, and help build a healthy digital economy while reaping its benefits.

Asian consumers are a receptive audience

According to Digital Consumer View 2015 (Asia), more than 60% of survey respondents in Asia say they use their smartphones often, while 50% also use laptops and desktops. This high penetration of smartphones and personal computers spells great opportunities for marketing to the digital consumer. The same survey reveals that an average of about 70% in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Thailand and Singapore are happy to receive promotional content on mobile, digital and social platforms, making for a very receptive audience that businesses should start addressing.

Consumers in Asia are increasingly buying products and services using the devices they own, from early steps such as comparing information between products to the final action of purchasing. This is because their digital screens make it easy for them to do entire processes with the use of one app.

In the above survey, 75% of respondents said that they used their digital devices for banking transactions, which was followed by shopping at 70%. We’ve all experienced waiting in long lines at the bank to make a simple deposit transaction, sometimes nervous about the fact that we’re carrying a significant amount of cash. Similarly, making a huge purchase at a store can call some unwanted attention, and there’s still the problem of storing the item while going on with your shopping. The use of digital devices to reduce or eliminate such steps and get the product or service quickly to the customer is what has made adoption swift for digital consumers.

Start talking through e-mail and social media

Besides searching for information on a browser, other ways that digital consumers gather information about products and services are through e-mail and social media.

In the survey, 68% of respondents said they opened e-mails in their smartphones, which means that marketers should be creating mobile-responsive messages that can be read with ease on smaller screens. With 60% also saying they opened e-mails on their laptops and desktops, e-mail in general still proves to be a significant communication channel for marketers to use in reaching their customers.

Social media is also a great tool that companies can use to not only inform customers, but also to engage them in conversation. Half of the survey respondents said that they bought a product after seeing a promotional post on social media. The platform also allows for conversations about your product to occur, and these may have a positive impact on sales. If you see one friend tweet that a product is good, you can also check out what other people tweeted about it and base your decision to buy on their reviews. This type of conversation and others also occur on social chat apps such as WeChat and LINE, which have high penetration in Asia and amplify promotions on a larger scale with relatively little effort.

Make messages personal

However, it’s not enough to identify which channels to use in reaching the digital consumer—what really matters is the message. Forty percent of survey respondents said that they weren’t interested in integrated content sent to their e-mail addresses, indicating that messages sent to customers must be targeted and personalized to a certain extent.

One factor that companies should consider in fine-tuning the messages they send to digital consumers is the user experience. According to the survey, although respondents in Asia said they found well-rounded content on most channels, they also thought that a significant amount of content on these channels tended to be repetitive or boring. It’s easy to spot whether the “person” at the other end is a living being who genuinely cares or a “bot” rattling off a script.

Companies must make the effort to perform dynamic content management, sending messages to consumers in a variety of flavors that portray a consistent yet exciting brand identity. It would also help to give customers the information they need in the easiest way possible because convenience is most likely a factor that would generate return business. Yes, we’d love to view your catalog of new products—but please remove all these pop-ups on your landing pages so we can find prices right off the bat.

Give the right, relevant information

Companies should also ensure that their messages contain accurate information and content relevant to the user. Between 29% and 44% of respondents said that they had received conflicting promotions across different channels, which means that marketers in Asia should work harder to achieve content congruency in their use of multiple digital platforms.

Making content relevant to digital consumers in Asia may be achieved by personalization, or understanding the individual preferences of customers through collected data. Digital Consumer View 2015 (Asia), cited personal information such as location, recently viewed items, delivery options and purchase history as some of the best clues that could lead digital consumers from a promotional message to a purchase. Marketing products to people based on their proximity and what they already bought gives digital consumers a sense that attention is being paid to them, that a company is anticipating their needs and looking out for them.

Enterprises should sincerely care

Overall, Asians are receptive to data collection for personalized marketing, with the exception of the Chinese, who reportedly had the highest percentages of unhappiness at the prospect of their information being collected. Fifty-nine percent of respondents also said they were “happy” or “very happy” with offers they received from companies based on their purchase history.

This means that despite certain privacy concerns, digital consumers still respond well to enterprises that seem to care about their needs and are eager to address them, as long as the information used involves a relevant operation—e.g. purchase history for shopping, or account information retained for future banking transactions.

Combined with responsible data collection and a sincere desire to cater to customers on their own terms, enterprises can reach out to digital consumers through online channels and find out what services they prefer and how to improve their interactions. Enterprises must get to know their digital consumers to learn more about their own business and work to provide a richer user experience that can be mutually beneficial.


Big Data, what's the Big Deal? - Benefits of Big Data

Much of the world interact in the online space, from talking to your friends on Facebook and signing up for a music streaming service to ordering that book you’d been seeking and stocking up your pantry through an online grocery service. All these transactions—and those of the rest of the world—have added up to the collection of massive amounts of data that may not seem important but can actually be analyzed to give valuable insight to any project, endeavor or particular aspect of life. These massive parcels are called Big Data.

Big Data is defined as large data sets on such a scale that traditional data processing techniques can’t handle them, but value can still be extracted from them. The term is also used for predictive analytics or other methods that are used to determine and extract the data set’s value, so it’s increasingly used to describe the data processing itself.

Think of the 4 Vs in Big Data

Data scientists characterize Big Data with four Vs: volume, velocity, variety and veracity. Volume is the most defining characteristic of Big Data as it deals with huge amounts of data generated in an organization—not just terabytes but up to the upper n-bytes, such as peta- (1,000 TB), exa- (1,000 PB) and zetta- (1,000 EB), depending on the organization’s size.

Velocity is the rate at which the data flows in and out of a system, and people involved with Big Data are concerned with the ability to process this data in real-time or near-real-time. Think of a car that has hundreds of different sensors trying to record your speed, engine temperature, and a myriad factors that affect automotive performance. Data has to be measured, stored, analyzed and sent back as quickly as possible in order to be read by the driver so they can determine the next course of action. Our world is made up of many such systems that record so much information that needs to be processed and reported quickly back to users so that they can be used.

Variety of Big Data denotes that data comes from many different sources, and in different forms. Healthcare systems usually deal not just with basic information such as a patient’s weight, symptoms or medical history, but also video logs, machine readouts, and diagnoses, which make up a combination of quantified and qualitative measurements—multiplied by a million patients over! Healthcare systems need to process many different types of data to make valuable conclusions about their users and affect policy.

Veracity concerns the accuracy or correctness of the information collected. Not everything collected can be trusted, mainly because it’s hard to monitor the relentless gathering of such huge volumes of data. Data scientists working with Big Data must find ways to ensure the integrity of their data sets so that the findings extracted from them can be trusted by leaders of organizations and turned into concrete steps for improvement of service.

Big Data helps infer laws, predict trends for better decisions

Increasingly, a distinction is being made between Business Intelligence, which is the processing of Big Data to predict trends and find better opportunities in business, and the traditional meaning of Big Data.

Traditionally, Big Data, such as in research, academic and scientific fields, involves inductive statistics on massive amounts of data with low information density to infer laws and relationships. For example, a population study might take into account huge volumes of seemingly mundane parameters including number of people in the household, average daily expenditure, and location to infer how proximity to schools affects the economic situation of a community.

Business Intelligence, on the other hand, applies descriptive statistics to data with high information density in order to find trends. Business Intelligence is now a huge industry, with companies forming their own teams of data scientists to process Big Data to determine ways in which they can improve decision making and performance, find new business opportunities, and even improve their cybersecurity.

It’s important to note that Big Data is impersonal and without context—it still requires people with the right skillset to analyze the information and be able to see relationships between factors that previously were not seen as related to each other.

Big Data helps businesses understand consumers better

One example where Business Intelligence is used is in personalization, or in understanding individual customer preferences and adjusting to them. Early efforts at personalization involved using on-site context such as customer profiles, clickstreams, and purchase data to define what products the company could further recommend to a user. With marketers today having access to more data, they can more easily hone in on what customers want in a user experience through e-mail engagement and response, geolocation, social media interactions, in-store behavior, and various other factors.

What you should look for in a big data analytics platform is capability to scale and speed-to-insight. With a flexible and scalable analytics platform, you can quickly ramp up or down based on your analytic workload, and optimize costs. With business users having the capability to create their own visual dashboards themselves (and not wait for IT), you can execute data-driven actions faster.

Personalization increases intimacy between consumer and provider

Why should enterprises be interested in working with Big Data and personalization? It’s because personalization makes transactions feel more intimate, making it more likely to positively impact purchasing experiences. When the store knows what you want and offers it to you, you’re going to feel as if they’ve been at your beck and call all this time, and trust is established.

When you’re online, it’s most likely that you click on links that are more relevant to you. If you collect sneakers and see an advertisement for a sale on the latest kicks, chances are that you’ll click on that instead of an advertisement for something else. Personalization in the form of targeted content (advertisements, product offers and services) is more likely to be converted into sales, and that’s why a company should be listening to the customer—or at least knowing their habits.

“In order for interactions to feel individualized and human, they must be well-informed,” said Sean Madden, Executive Managing Director at Ziba. Big Data allows enterprises to see patterns in the behavior of their consumer base so that they can anticipate needs and accordingly make improvements in the user experience. The goal is to find competitive advantage in the customer’s perception of the company, because that’s where it’s most powerful.

Making Impact — Immediately

In today’s fast-paced digital economy, businesses don’t have the luxury of long project timelines. They want their data teams to deliver value immediately. To help our customers overcome their big data challenges, we have built a unified, end-to-end big data analytics platform from the world’s most successful open source data projects that delivers scale, speed, and simplicity. To find out more, you can check the Amihan Analyze hub.


The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Establishing A Steady Foothold in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

At the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in 2016, various global leaders discussed how increased automation has sparked massive changes in the way humans do business and cooperate.

From January 20 to 23, 2016, the World Economic Forum (WEF) held its Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, as it has done for decades. The theme for this year’s meeting of the world’s top business, political and academic leaders was “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” a need that WEF finds apparent at present. Specifically, the meeting aimed to discuss the following:

… mastering the speed, scale and force at which the Fourth Industrial Revolution is reshaping the economic, social, ecological and cultural contexts in which we live; addressing a rapidly changing security and humanitarian landscape in which emerging technologies also play a key role; and solving problems of the global commons, from climate change to the future of the internet, through new models of public-private cooperation and the application of breakthrough science and technology solutions. (WEF Annual Meeting 2016 Report)

Previous Industrial Revolutions that have changed the way the world has done business and innovation were all sparked by new technologies that provided increased efficiency and opportunities. The First Industrial Revolution happened when machines were used to do production, such as with the spindle or with the advent of steam engines starting in the late 18th century. This was followed by the Second Industrial Revolution, where electricity added significant power to production, allowing for mass production and division of labor in the late 19th century. The Third Industrial Revolution is more familiar to today’s generation, and it began when electronics, IT and automated production became possible with the advent of computers in 1969.

We are on the cusp of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is marked by increased automation brought about by the ubiquitous power of the Internet and sensors, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is “giving the opportunities to truly merge and adapt our bodies with technology,” wrote Nicholas Davis, Head of Society and Innovation and Member of the Executive Committee of WEF. It involves the convergence of physical, digital and human domains, where we are becoming so much more aware of our physical world because of sensors and we use increasingly interactive digital technologies to control it.

Winston Damarillo, Chief Strategy Officer of PLDT Group and Chairman of Amihan Global Strategies, attended the WEF Annual Meeting at Davos-Klosters in January 2016 and recently held several download sessions at the Amihan offices with executives to share valuable insights from the event. He discussed technology trends signaling the Fourth Industrial Revolution, how this phenomenon will affect enterprises, and how industries can adapt to such an increasingly connected and fast-paced business environment.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution sees technology change at faster speeds

It took the spindle almost 120 years to spread outside of Europe, but it only took the Internet a decade to spread globally. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by technology breakthroughs at increasing speeds that have produced trends that changed the way people conducted business as well as daily life.

The iPhone was launched in 2007, and just eight years later in 2015, there were 2 billion smart phones being used globally. Volumes of data have been produced by these users alone, giving insights on their consumer behavior that companies have since used to improve their mobile strategies for greater profits.

Autonomous vehicles are another breakthrough brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Drones are used for many applications that require remote human control, from military to commercial (such as for wedding or adventure videos). Google also launched its first autonomous car in 2010, using many intelligent sensors to keep it from bumping into obstacles and allowing it to be controlled remotely.

The advent of 3D printing has multiplied possibilities in production, allowing intricate designs to be realized physically in mere minutes. The related field of bio printing allows this technology to be used in making prosthetics and devices that can save lives or extend the human lifespan.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing businesses

Focus on automation and the increasing convergence of digital, physical and human domains in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is also changing the way businesses operate and evolve. In general, traditional life cycles for business will happen at much faster rates, with companies lasting about 18 years compared to how they used to last for 60. New entrants can dominate markets much faster, too, such as in the examples of Facebook, which took 6 years to reach $1 billion per year, and Google, which took just 5 years.

Dedicated enterprises will split up into platforms for smaller and more focused businesses, such as in the way Google Alphabet is made up of smaller companies, each with their own innovation tracks. Jobs will also become extremely flexible and transient, since every worker has essentially become a contractor with the on-demand economy.

Customer needs are also changing, with the Internet empowering consumers through their mobile devices. They will expect transparency and real human interaction to still be at the heart of process innovation, so real-time adjustment and data visualizations will be necessary to keep them informed in ways they can immediately understand. Products can also be brought to market more quickly with the possibility of improving them remotely. For example, Tesla cars use over-the-air software updates to enhance a product after purchase, maintaining their value over time unlike conventional vehicles.

Companies must adapt or be left behind

Changes at breakneck speed have made it necessary for companies to adapt to innovation or be left behind. Industries are already being disrupted by new modes of digital interaction and new technological capabilities.
In retail, customer loyalty is proving to be where the advantage lies, with mobile-empowered consumers patronizing businesses that have better customer service and intuitive personalized messaging. In healthcare, digitized patient records and wearables lessen the need for hospital visits or doctors. Innovations such as customer engagement and data visualization technologies arm companies in such industries with tools to make their stakeholders true partners in the future, when service becomes a more collaborative relationship in the interests of efficiency and effectivity.

“The opportunity to raise the quality of life is the biggest business opportunity going,” said Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra, at the 2016 WEF Annual Meeting. With more people being empowered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the focus of companies should be shifting to improvement on a higher level, for the betterment of all, because that’s where opportunity resides at this point. This is why private, public and academic sectors are now cooperating on initiatives such as Big Data, tech platforms for the on-demand economy, and smart materials—they hope to harness these technologies to find solutions to global problems and hidden opportunities for growth.

Imagine a world where: online access is a basic right; you control devices with your brain; you produce any product just by printing; your car fills itself up with gas; and the mobile phone makes banks obsolete. As political and business leaders work with each other and the academe to find sustainable ways to adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, human beings will soon live in such an interconnected world.