Digital transformation has had its day. In fact, the term ‘transformation’ itself is giving way to a new era as organisations across a wide range of sectors reach what can only be described as digital saturation.
As we move collectively into the post-digital era, the digital capabilities and advantages that were once seen as differentiators are now available to every organisation. Marketers and advertisers now have the tools to understand their customers with a new depth of granularity and they have more channels than ever to reach them too.
This is not to say digital is old or over. On the contrary; digital transformation has shaped everything all the way through to people’s expectations, and now marketers must set their sights on shaping the market. Companies face a world of renewed expectations and core digital technologies are going to be more critical than ever.
However, the time for pilots and experimentation is long gone. Marketers now have to usher in the new strategies that will allow them to set their brands apart from their competitors. The playing field may have levelled out – but now comes the really exciting stuff.
Think of the last decade as a steep learning curve. Now that marketers have mastered many game-changing tools they need to learn how best to shape the world around consumers down to picking the right moments to offer their products and services.
Let’s start with these digitally mature consumers, after all they have been on a parallel path with organisations, incorporating new technologies at an increasingly rapid rate. It took 12 years for mobile phones to reach 50 million users and the internet took just seven years to get to the same point. If we look at purely digital technologies, the rates take off: Facebook reached 50 million users in four years; WeChat, one year, and that almost forgotten augmented-reality gaming app, PokeÌmon GO, gained the same traction in 19 days.
People are now adopting new technologies both quickly and completely, and whether they’re customers, employees, or even competitors, they are beginning to outpace enterprises in their digital transformations. They are increasingly knowledgeable about technology itself and how companies use it and are becoming selective and demanding of what they adopt, challenging companies to work with them or adapt to them in different ways.
We are shifting beyond hyper-personalisation to an era where each individual customer has their own reality and every moment will soon represent an opportunity for marketers to play a role in shaping it. This may sound like quantum physics to some, yet the truth is that technology is creating a world of intensely customised and on-demand experiences. Which is why marketers should view each opportunity as if it’s an individual market—a momentary market.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best ways to harness this.
Keep it human
One of the first things to remember is that we are not throwing the baby out with the bath water. Consumers may be digitally mature, but this does not mean they have lost any human traits such as a good sense of humour, a desire to share and a thirst for authentic, innovative and thought-provoking content.
Just check out the 3.8 million (and growing) shares of the recent heart-warming video BMW put out when Mercedes CEO, Dieter Zetsche, stepped down, to confirm that. If anything, now that marketers have refined the art of reaching their target audiences, they have even more responsibility to bear when it comes to what they serve them.
Unique opportunities for unique customers
The technology-driven interactions we now take for granted have created an expanding technology identity for every consumer. This should be viewed as a living foundation of knowledge to gain an accurate understanding of the next generation of consumers. This pivots marketing towards developing rich, individualised, experience-based relationships as marketers meet consumer’s needs at the speed of now.
Brands across sectors such as beauty, fashion, entertainment, retail, health and wellness are already demonstrating the value of fluid consumer touchpoints that evolve and grow alongside this new breed of data-driven consumer who is constantly in flux.
Consumers have been submerged in digital products and services. A stream of new social media brands has become go-to destinations for finding and sharing information; Consequently, where once the content we consumed followed a fixed course, we now experience content that responds to real-world environments.
Add to this the raft of smart home devices that enable contextual interactions between the digital and physical world, and we step into an entirely new era for content and how it is consumed. As direct requests for physical products and services as well as digitally driven social interactions from wherever people choose become the new normal, marketers will need to rapidly adapt to these distinctive new ways of communicating.
Cutting edge insights
Faced with this unprecedented choice of technology, people are now expressing their strong sentiments about which technologies they will or won’t adopt to get the experiences they want. This offers marketers powerful new insights about new market opportunities.
An interesting fallout is that having fostered the illusion that most needs can be met, no matter how personal or customised, organisations now need to meet these expectations. Marketers have to turn that illusion into reality. That means understanding people at a holistic level and recognising that their outlooks and needs may well change at a moment’s notice.
In the post-digital world, every moment will represent a potential new market of one. It’s where demand is communicated instantly, and gratification is expected immediately. What’s more, both are constantly changing, creating an infinite and never-ending stream of opportunities to be met.
Of course, realistically, the world is not yet at the point of everything being instantaneous. But post-digital companies are already playing a different game. Whilst those organisations that may not have quite reached digital maturity are still looking for a competitive edge, be it innovation or increased personalisation, post-digital companies on the other hand, are looking for much more. They are poised to overtake the competition by changing the way the market itself works. From one market to many custom markets— on-demand, in the moment.
Marketers may feel like they are repositioning themselves as the curators of reality, however this shift brings with it a new requirement, which is to responsibly pick which opportunities to target.
Delivering for specific and constantly changing moments creates challenging additional questions for organisations that are used to one market of many. No one said it would get easier, moving beyond digital will require its own set of transformational strategies. But the journey will be worth it.
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