The numbers are impressive:
While the emergence of the BigData, IoT, and AI mega-trends is common knowledge, what they actually mean “on the ground” for marketers and sellers is just beginning to come into focus.
This blog is the first in a series that will explore three ways, described in brief below, in which the BD-IoT-AI mega-trend will change sales, marketing, and business.
While the concept is far from new, we are still relatively early on the adoption curve with respect to the concept of Inbound marketing. For those not up to date on the rise to prominence of HubSpot, Pardot, and Marketo, what has made the concept of “Inbound” important is that it can dramatically increase marketing efficiency by leveraging content stores, programmatic distribution, and online event tracking to narrow the focus of non-automated-non-digital (and thus more expensive) marketing activity to only the potential-buyers that have shown active signs of interest. This customer action often takes the form of "liking" a post, visiting a website, downloading a white paper, or filling out a form. However, while this shift unleashes a lot of efficiency for “sellers,” in that it allows them to passively filter out low value marketing opportunities, it does much less of “buyers” (the biggest upside being buyers today are getting arguably more valuable “Spam” … perhaps we’ll call it “Ham”).
BigData-IoT-AI are about to dramatically increase marketing efficiency again. However, this time, the efficiency benefit will be focused around the buyer. While today, buyers, by and large, online and off, need to take actions (like those described above, and more pedestrian, like calling your propane company to set up automatic tank filling or setting up auto purchasing on Amazon to make sure you don’t run out of diapers), they will be able to achieve the same benefits in the future while remaining completely passive. The sensors embedded in my surroundings (from propane tanks to toilets) will generate sufficient data so that my needs will be fulfilled programmatically by sellers using AI, more simple algorithms, or logic. Said more simply, “Inbound” marketing means I got Amazon to order detergent; “Passive Inbound” means that my washing machine told Amazon to order detergent for me. Companies that unlock this efficiency for customers will achieve outsized results in the marketplace.
The Flat Funnel
With IoT sensors producing massive amounts of new BigData, and immense computing power using AI that leverage neural networks to sift through the data to make it actionable, we will know more than ever before what people need or want, perhaps as soon as or even before they realize their “Need State.” This will have major repercussions for what we today know as the “purchasing funnel.” More specifically, they will produce a Flat Funnel with the “top of funnel” and will be compressed by the Passive Inbound phenomena produced by IoT, and the bottom of the funnel will be compressed by BigData and AI. For marketers, this means understanding and deploying IoT capabilities is crucial. For sellers, with customer needs now clearly articulated, more competitive advantage can be gleaned from.
SecEx (Security Experience)
As the SpiderMan comics once told us, “with great power -- there comes great responsibility.” The opportunity for convenience presented IoT, BigData, and AI to unlock customer willingness and allow companies to know and analyze more about them than ever before. With this power to improve customer experience comes immense customer experience risk. Companies that allow hackers to exploit these same tools (IoT, BigData, AI) to accomplish nefarious ends will do more damage than ever before to their customer relationships. Think of a propane company that allows hackers to exploit sensors to determine when robbers can break into a house based on the homeowner's useage - their brand would suffer immensely. As such, marketers and sellers must think about SecEx (Security Experience) as an even more important part of their broader design and customer experience strategy.
“Passive Inbound,” the Flat Funnel, and SecEx will start to come into sharper focus as consumers embrace the IoT, and they will. What is clear, as we focus the lens, is that the organizations that do not fully embrace digital transformation will be the organizations left behind. Lead to Loyal™ is the solution. The question is, how long do we have?
Stay tuned. Much more to come on these topics.