How Connected Devices Are Reshaping Consumer Behavior [INFOGRAPHIC]
The consumer experience is simultaneously more complicated for providers yet more convenient for shoppers than it ever has been.
The Internet of Things (IoT)—a web of smart devices including light bulbs, TVs, security systems, vehicles, wearables, voice assistants, smartphones, and much more that can be connected to the internet and to one another—currently consists of 27 billion devices. That number is expected to grow nearly 200 percent to reach 75 billion by 2025.
You guessed it, that means pretty much everyone is connected pretty much all the time. The typical American household contains 5 connected devices and 77 percent of Americans go online on a daily basis. Trends indicate that everything from personal robots to in-ear computers (we don’t know what that means, but we want one) to “smart gardening” will come online in the connected future.
And the craze to connect everything has certainly made an impact on consumer behavior.
Today, the internet empowers consumers to shop on myriad channels, browse countless competitors, chat with other shoppers, and even connect with brands directly! The popularity of voice search and smart home devices continues to grow as consumers prioritize convenience and speed when it comes to researching, finding, and purchasing what we want.
In addition, because consumers online all the time, they’re starting to expect businesses to be, as well. Eighty percent of consumers desire a response within six hours of sending a message to a company via social media—bonus points if it’s consistent and personalized across channels.
With this influx of technical prowess also comes a more aware consumer. They know you want their data. And 75 percent of internet users are willing to give it to you as long as you offer value in return. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t care about data security. When it seems like every month brings a new data breach, it’s no surprise that 78 percent of consumers report that data privacy concerns may inhibit their use of connected devices in the future.
What’s a business to do to keep up with the evolving consumer? First, we recommend adopting cutting-edge content management software that empowers you to serve personalized, consistent content exactly when and where consumers want it. Second, we think it’s vital you get to know their changing habits and expectations—which is exactly what we hope to help you achieve with this infographic all about how connected devices are reshaping consumer behavior in 2019.
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Why your company’s future depends on modernization
In the early stages of my career, I joined a “cutting-edge” software company as an architect in the IT department. I don’t want to spoil the story, but the company was not, in fact, cutting-edge. While the company purchased all sorts of tools it considered modern, its leaders didn’t stop to consider what successful implementation might look like, or how to educate and empower their people to use it well. Instead, we just accumulated new tech. I left the company less than a year after joining.I was reminded of this experience while listening to Chief Digital Officer of Dawn Foods Bob Howland share his story in a recent episode of the People Changing Enterprises podcast. He led the transformation of the 100-year-old bakery supplies company.I love his perspective: Don't modernize for the sake of modernization. Don't do it because there are shiny new tools. Do it because your organization’s future depends on it.If I could go back to that company and tell them why driving digital transformation is important, this is what I would say.You no longer have to compromise all three: speed, quality and costIn the podcast, Bob referred to speed, quality and cost as the triangle that all companies chase. I like to refer to that quest as the “Pursuit of Happiness.” Think of the elements as sliders on a mixing board. You are constantly adjusting the mix in response to your priorities at the moment and you can usually get a perfect sound with two of the three elements. The third hopefully is not far behind. A general rule of thumb is that all can improve, given the right circumstances.When we were a young startup, we bought certain functionalities of our technology rather than building them, for the sake of speed — for example, our rich-text editor. As we grew, we doubled down on enhancing every aspect of our product to our standards. That’s when we rebuilt our rich-text editor to be one of the most advanced available in any CMS today.But when you’re a legacy company with outdated processes and technology, speed, quality and cost tend to be:Unaligned with company prioritiesLagging far behind what they could beAs a result, the company suffers from unrealized potential and unnecessary complexity that limits them in some way. The quality of what you’re offering might be good, but the right technology could enhance it. While you might be able to operate with a level of speed that is good enough, there is a possibility to be quicker and more agile. Bob said it like this in the podcast: “Someone would say we're doing fine, and they would be right. And here comes this person that thinks about the world differently, and says, ‘We can still be that company, but we can be better.’ And when I say better, I mean better revenue, trajectory, lower costs and improved customer experience. That's how I define better.”Your employees will feel empoweredBefore their transformation, Dawn Foods’ sales team could better be referred to as order takers. The only way a customer could place an order was by writing it on a piece of paper and physically giving it to the rep when they were visiting their store. So when the company pitched the idea of an online ordering system to shift the team’s priorities to strategic growth opportunities for the customer, they were hungry for it. Modernizing your technology stack is not just to achieve speed, cost, and quality for the business — it’s for your people, too.One of my jobs as a CTO is not only to create the tech roadmap for the future, it’s to empower the people the vision is for. Whether that’s implementing a new tool, iterating on an old process or making space for innovation.For example, when my engineering team does “sprints” — meaning, working on development projects for two weeks at a time — we always allocate time for innovation. Twenty percent of an engineering sprint is dedicated to bug fixes and feature requests from customer success; eighty percent is given to their creative endeavors.One benefit of digital transformation is that your employees can shift their focus and skills to meaningful tasks that can have impact. Your customers will be happy, and your employees will be satisfied and motivated. You can deliver what customers need when they need itFor a customer, there’s nothing more frustrating than needing a feature to solve a problem and knowing that it might happen in the next year if it happens at all. One of the goals of digital transformation should be that you are able to respond to customers’ needs much faster. You become an agile organization, like Dawn Foods. In just 22 weeks, they delivered a world-class catalog to get their customers excited about their products and streamline their experience. They couldn’t do that without moving to composable architecture and upgrading their technology stack. At Contentstack, our head of global customer success and I sit down every two weeks and discuss what our customers have requested. We prioritize by making a “top 10 wish list” and we leverage our tech stack to deliver what they need. This is how we prioritize continuous transformation.And this is what I know: Transformation is a constant, iterative improvement. It doesn’t have a designated stop or start period. There is no before and after. You nurture the relationships, set up the systems and processes and onboard the right tools. When you do that, your business and its stakeholders will thrive.For 100 years, Dawn Foods was hugely successful. But when Bob came to them and showed them what they could be, the entire board agreed it was their only option to keep that success going for another hundred years. Any enterprise can benefit from modernization — especially if it has been around for a very long time.
What is an API?
For all its power and opportunities, the digital economy demands continuous adaptation and flexibility to satisfy evolving customer demands for unforgettable, personalized experiences. How do you rise to this challenge? By adopting a headless approach to your content management system (CMS), which separates a website’s visuals (the front end) from its content library (the back end).In this composable architecture, the logic and functionality are assigned to a network of application programming interfaces (APIs) that relay messages between applications aimed at reusing content securely across multiple projects. As more and more businesses move toward composable architecture, you’ve probably heard of APIs but may not know how they work. Read on to find out what an API is and how it works in a modern CMS. What is an API?An API is a medium that allows two software components to communicate with each other. It transfers information from the client to the server via requests sent through an application.The internal parts are hidden from the user since the purpose is to connect various tools and services, initiating calls to the endpoints residing in another system or device. APIs are categorized into four types depending on the format of stored data: SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol): A standardized API that relies on XML texts and structured databases to send requestsRPC (Remote Procedure Calls): Compatible with distributed applications, which execute code on a server outside the clientWebsocket: Allows client and server apps to communicate by passing data through JSON files using callback messagesREST (Representational State Transfer): Responds to server requests by performing a function and returning its output data An API houses many microservices that your developers can implement into various programs, similar to a menu for selecting items. It lets them retrieve pre-made templates that improve existing content without reinventing the wheel for every web element. If someone needs to upload groups of files, they can simply pull this feature from the source code that has the solution in place. Let’s go over the steps to processing a request from an app to the server. How do APIs work?APIs make it possible to connect cloud services, mobile devices, custom workspaces and real-time analytics, whenever you need to maintain, access and share large amounts of data on a single platform. They can restrict access to particular software and hardware, protecting your company records from users who don’t have permission to view them. First, a client app will fetch the HTTP request and transport it through the URI consisting of a header and body. Next, the API proceeds to call an option recognized by the program or web server. Then, the client will process the request and fetch the correct information. Finally, the data is transferred to the client app in JSON format to wrap up the session. An API interface optimizes the exchange of data throughout departments, software engineers and external vendors. This saves you time and money on product development or even managing web services, lending itself to flexible interactions between cross-functional teams, thus opening up opportunities for innovation. APIs are depicted as layers that translate what happens on both ends of the network. The same idea holds true for modern web browsers — when you visit a site, it may ask you about enabling cookies, which you can deny if you don’t want third parties tracking your preferences. What are some examples of APIs?APIs are important for developing and securing resources, giving you control over what assets are available to your partners and consumers, in contrast with those built for employees. For the most part, they blend into the background of the graphical user interfaces you come across. Here are several APIs you’ve probably heard about: Google MapsGoogle Maps has become the de facto GPS for planning car routes, supplying detailed street maps through satellite imaging. The map API’s geolocation tools provide users with traffic conditions near their destination along with the estimated time of arrival. PayPalPayPal processes payments beyond digital wallet transactions. In fact, the option to pay with PayPal is a staple of e-commerce sites that operate based on its REST APIs. This protects sensitive data from unauthorized entities after checkout. FacebookThe Graph API lets developers extract core functions directly from Facebook, using HTTP requests to share pages and posts from a user’s timeline. It has extensions to collect insights on marketing campaigns, video impressions, conversion rates and more. It’s likely that you’ve used APIs at some point when installing a website extension or downloading a phone app, but they exist in other spaces as well, such as when you add items to a cart while shopping online or when you have food delivered to your doorstep. Advantages of using an APIThere are APIs on the market to enhance databases, operating systems and remote machines — classified into either private or public versions. An API offers many benefits that improve software solutions and overhaul IT systems, upgrading customer-facing apps to grab the user’s attention. Internally, there are APIs for database communications that invoke protocols, authorizing the end-user to write queries or upload new entries. These are inserted automatically under the relevant criteria to ensure the data is reliable and consistent across multiple verticals. Another type of API covers operating systems including Windows and Linux, with a set of developer tools for executing native programs stored in the hard drive. OS APIs govern the success of critical operations to keep the servers running at full speed. In the face of a changing digital landscape, companies at times have to rethink their marketing strategy to continue attracting prospective buyers. That’s why most social media outlets host external APIs to raise their brand visibility and pull in millions of users to engage with posts. Because connectivity is a driver of productivity, companies are now automating building-wide workflows to reduce the cost of labor. Additionally, APIs are drivers of innovation, transforming businesses while they expand into a diversified market and propose new product ideas. The Role of APIs in MACH architectureMACH stands for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless when discussing enterprise architecture. This principle states that technology should be modular, pluggable, and capable of evolving, shedding light on scalable and replaceable components at every turn, designed to improve API functionality for both your users and developers.MACH is focused on the best-of-breed approach to building enterprise-level SaaS while it introduces modularity to legacy systems. Above all, MACH constructs a centralized network that spans multiple channels with agile frameworks in mind. Microservices arrange applications as an assortment of deployable services instead of leaving the features on a single instance or database. As such, you can update apps on-demand without impacting other API functions. API-first suggests that your connected apps depend on the API to fetch, store, and receive information throughout various points of contact. It allows two or more apps to interact regardless of the status of other programs.Cloud-native defines the SaaS framework used for storage and hosting, with the ability to scale flexibly and update functionality on every available resource. The server is maintained by a vendor so you don’t need to manually configure individual apps. Headless is what isolates the front end from the back end, making it easier to customize the visuals on mobile and desktop. The code is decoupled to expand design options while still giving your developers room to write and test scripts. A MACH API strengthens the security of its intermittent layers: You never have to worry about data leaking from your phone to the server, knowing that packets of data only share what’s necessary to approve the transaction. A few lines of code can make a huge difference in extending API use cases. As a result, workplace collaboration is much better because of integrations on the cloud that communicate effectively with each other. APIs have a lot of potential for monetization if their capabilities are leveraged to gather consumer data, empowering businesses to personalize future customer experiences with valuable research derived from AI analytics. You can create digital experiences faster than you dreamed possible with Contentstack. Schedule a free demo and see why top brands are choosing our content experience platform.
How to have difficult conversations with your CFO
I've heard CFOs described as executives who are "exceptional at finding the smartest way to say no." While there may be some truth to that, CFOs are also motivated by the smartest reasons to say yes.When that clicked for me earlier in my career, my approach to CFO conversations shifted. It wasn't about drowning them in data or trying to convince them my idea was the one; it was about painting a picture.That picture should tell a simple story: where the organization is now and where it could be if we make a change. As Chief Digital Officer of Dawn Foods Bob Howland said in a recent episode of the People Changing Enterprises podcast: "Everyone wants to be part of success. Everyone wants to be part of the future."Given the economic environment, many of us are having more conversations with finance than we're used to. So, I thought I'd share some of my strategies for fruitful CFO conversations here.Face Issues Early and Head-OnDawn Foods' Bob Howland calls this: "Be the bringer of bad news." Howland joined Dawn Foods in 2019 to propel the 100-year-old baking ingredients company into its next 100 years. Before Howland, orders were only taken by hand. His "bad news" was that their future wasn't bright if they didn't become an agile organization. Digital transformation hit the baking industry, too.And he told the CFO that within his first few days on the job. Talk about early. But he also came up with a solution: to release a beta ecommerce site in six weeks built on composable architectures and get some results. That eventually became a full-blown solution in 22 weeks.As Bob said, "If something is broken, tell the people that should know right away. Then figure out what's the action and who should take it?""Broken" to a CFO typically boils down to one of two things: something is costing us (or will cost us) a lot of money with no return in the long run or competition is eating our lunch. Know what the problem is going in and get rid of the noise around it to focus your conversation with the CFO. Noise can be anything from emotion, to office politics, to vanity issues that don't get you closer to the heart of the problem.Find a Common LanguageThere's a reason I'm CEO and David Overmyer is Contentstack's CFO: Finance is not my area of expertise. But, here's the thing. We share a passion, which is scaling high-performing organizations in sustainable and purpose-filled ways. So, when we talk about allocating money, the underlying question isn't how much it will cost, but where will that spend take us?We focus on a few key metrics for business-as-usual meetings. Those include ARR, CAC, gross margins, and customer retention. When new opportunities arise, we agree on the overriding KPIs together and then dig deeper.Come up with a common language upfront. Don't risk derailing a meeting with jargon. Once questions like "what does that mean" start springing up, you've lost your way.Let me challenge you with one additional perspective on common language: It doesn't have to be about words or numbers. Values can take the lead.When March 2020 hit, a lot of companies responded with layoffs. Since David and I agreed when we first started working together that taking care of our people was our highest priority, we came up with creative solutions — executive pay cuts, investing in training and development — to pandemic problems. For us, brains and heart matter.Find (or Make) an AdvocateIf you're as lucky as I was with David, you may make an ally out of your CFO. I would go so far as calling him a mentor. But for most people, that's out of reach. In the podcast, Howland shared the golden question that opened the door toward marketing/finance partnership and transformation: "Who is the most trusted person on your team?"Howland turned that person into an e-commerce expert and an advocate. It took time and education. Mostly, it took enablement — sharing information and allowing him to come to his conclusions. Author Bernard Desmidt called this mindset "win with" vs. "win over" in CFO Magazine this year.Allowing this slow journey to unfold builds trust, which improves the relationship and, ultimately, the organization in the long run.I was lucky early in my career to participate in Crucial Conversations training. A lot of that training is reflected in this piece. In Crucial Conversations, opinions tend to differ, and the stakes and emotions are high. Conversations with finance are often like this.But if handled properly, these conversations can create breakthroughs that unlock the potential of people and organizations.
How Your Business Can Market With AR
Augmented reality (AR) is a set of technologies that superimpose digital data and images on the physical world. AR technology is used by businesses in many different industries and has a wide range of applications. One of the most popular applications for this technology is in marketing. Businesses today can use AR to increase awareness of their brand by creating a variety of immersive and memorable digital experiences for their customers. As technology advances and powerful mobile devices become more ubiquitous, more businesses are beginning to incorporate AR into their marketing efforts, and the benefits of AR marketing are gaining greater recognition. If you’re looking to grow your business in new ways, AR can be a highly effective and accessible tool, but it’s important to understand exactly what AR marketing is and how AR technology can fit into your branding. What is AR Marketing? AR marketing is defined as the strategic integration of AR experiences. It operates alone or in combination with other media to achieve overarching marketing goals by creating value for the brand, its stakeholders, and societies at large. There are many content and marketing tools available to modern businesses, but not all are created equal, and it’s important to use methods that will fit well with your brand identity. The versatility of AR allows you to create fully customized digital experiences for your target customers and share them through a range of different mediums. Brands today are constantly exploring new applications for AR in their marketing, such as simulations that allow customers to “test” products virtually before they buy, or interactive virtual shopping assistants that can provide customers with more information about products. It’s critical to consider your brand goals and target audience when determining the optimal AR marketing tactics for your business.AR vs AI: What’s the Difference? While augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are commonly mistaken for one another, these two terms refer to different concepts and are far from interchangeable. AR deals with integrating digital content into real-world settings and AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines.AR technology is typically geared at fostering interactions between people and computers, while AI is meant to help machines make decisions and solve problems without human assistance. Understanding the different applications of AR and AI can help you determine the best way to incorporate these technologies into your marketing. Which Should Your Business Use? While AR and AI are very different technologies, there’s no need for your business to choose between them. Both technologies can be used as part of an effective content management system (CMS), but it’s important to understand their distinct functions. AI is also useful for devising and planning effective marketing campaigns. Implementing AI into your marketing can help you more accurately analyze consumer behavior and predict which types of content will resonate with your target audience. AR technology is generally used to engage consumers directly and provide them with more exciting and immersive experiences. These technologies can often work together in marketing, as AI can be used to improve the functionality of augmented reality applications. For example, integrating AI-driven data analytics into a virtual shopping assistant tool can help the program generate more personalized product suggestions for individual consumers. AR and AI are both highly versatile and can benefit both traditional and headless content management systems, but the best way to apply these technologies in your marketing depends on your business's unique goals and brand identity. Where Can Businesses Use AR to Market? When deciding on a medium for your marketing strategy, it’s always essential to consider the type of content you’ll be creating. Certain platforms are far more suitable than others for augmented reality marketing: The Metaverse The Metaverse is defined as an integrated network of 3D virtual worlds that can be accessed through a virtual reality headset. It’s commonly associated with interactive multiplayer gaming but is also used to host virtual events like concerts and viewing parties for sporting competitions. Because it’s accessed through virtual reality, the metaverse is ideal for supporting AR marketing. In this virtual environment, it’s far easier for brands to create fully immersive experiences for consumers. Some common AR marketing tactics for the metaverse include creating virtual venues where customers can gather and offering digital goods or collectibles that relate to your brand. AR Portals AR portals allow you to create detailed virtual environments that consumers can access by scanning a code with their mobile devices. These portals are represented by physical doorways and can be placed in retail stores or other public spaces. Once they’ve “entered” the virtual portal on their phone, users can freely look around the environment as if they were physically standing there. In marketing, these portals can be used to create virtual showrooms where consumers can preview your products in detail before they buy. They also provide people with a fun and interactive experience that helps familiarize them with your brand. VR Platforms Several other virtual reality platforms can be effective mediums for AR marketing. Similar to the metaverse, these platforms provide immersive virtual environments where players can interact with each other using 3D character models. Using these platforms, businesses can create virtual locations where they can engage in real interactions with consumers. Some of the most popular standalone VR platforms include Oculus Mobile SDK, Tethered, SteamVR, PlayStation VR, Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) and Windows Mixed Reality. These platforms can all be effective mediums for AR marketing, but not every platform works for every business. Choosing the right platform for your brand can help ensure that your content reaches your target audience and conveys your intended message.Is AR the Future of Marketing? Augmented Reality has quickly become popular in marketing because of its ability to combine traditional advertising methods with immersive experiences powered by new technology. This rapid growth has led many people to wonder about the role of AR in the future of marketing. While there is some concern to be had about technologies like AR and AI replacing traditional jobs in marketing, these technologies also have the potential to make a positive impact on the industry. By providing businesses with a new way to engage people, AR can help marketers obtain key insights into consumer behavior and enable them to create a wider variety of exciting content for their brand.
How Augmented Reality Is Changing Our Lives
Augmented reality (AR) is a digital experience that combines real-world surroundings with computer-generated sensory input, like sound, graphics or video. AR differs from other digital experiences, like artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR), in that it doesn't create a completely separate digital world. Instead, AR enhances real-world surroundings by adding digital elements like computer graphics, interactive experiences and information.AR became popular in the 2010s with the release of devices like Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens and even smartphones with sensors that could track the user’s position and orientation, allowing them to view digital content layered on top of their real-world surroundings. This could be anything from a map overlay to an animated character that interacts with the individual.Since its inception, AR has found several applications in fields like marketing, entertainment and even education. Let's take a look at some of the ways AR is already changing our everyday lives.How AR Is Changing Our Personal LivesAugmented reality is affecting our personal lives by giving us digital experiences in the real world and changing the way we interact with technology.In the past, if you wanted to use a digital device, you had to sit in front of a computer or hold a smartphone in your hand. But with an AR headset, digital content can be overlaid onto the real world around you, so you can interact with it naturally. For example, you can use AR to see turn-by-turn directions while you're driving, or get information about the products you're looking at in a store.These experiences are not only more convenient but also more immersive and engaging. And as AR technology continues to evolve, you can expect to see even more ways that it will change your life.Social InteractionsActivities such as conducting meetings, attending classes or playing games with friends are all now possible through AR, giving people new ways to bond and make friends from all over the globe.AR technology can also be used to create more immersive experiences at events like concerts, sporting events and even theme parks by giving attendees the ability to see interactive digital content that enhances their surroundings.How We Consume MediaAR is also changing the way we watch television and movies. For instance, the popular show “Stranger Things” has used AR to let viewers explore the show's setting, and the movie “Ready Player One” features a number of scenes that take place in an immersive virtual world.As AR technology continues to develop, you can expect to see even more movies and TV shows that make use of it. How We Purchase ProductsConsumers are also using AR to get more information about the products they're interested in. For example, IKEA Place is an app that lets users see how furniture would look in their homes before they buy it.This type of AR experience is not only convenient but it can also help people make better purchasing decisions by allowing them to see how a product will look and fit in their space.Other retailers are also starting to experiment with AR shopping experiences. For example, Sephora has an app called Sephora Virtual Artist that lets users try on makeup by using facial recognition technology.Augmented reality can be used to track consumer behavior, which can help businesses better understand how buyers interact with their products and services. This allows businesses to customize and maintain content through content management systems based on the information they collect from AR.These new shopping experiences made possible by AR are likely to change the way you shop in the future by making it easier to purchase products.How AR Is Changing Our Professional LivesAugmented reality is not only changing businesses and consumers but also the way we work. AR will affect many professions and create new opportunities for fields related to marketing, data analysis and technical support.AR MarketingAs businesses try to engage with consumers in new and innovative ways, AR provides a unique opportunity for marketers.One way is by changing the strategies marketers use for content marketing and traditional advertising. For instance, rather than using TV or radio commercials, businesses can now use AR to create interactive experiences that allow customers to try out products before they buy them. This gives customers a more realistic idea of what they're buying and can help increase sales.AR also changes the way marketers view their job. Traditionally, marketers have been responsible for creating ads and other promotional materials. With AR they can also create interactive experiences that help customers learn about products and services. This means that marketers need to be more creative and have a better understanding of how technology works.Understandably, some people may worry that with artificial intelligence, jobs will be replaced by computer software or machines. However, with AR, this is not the case. There will be more opportunities for marketers since businesses will need individuals who can create unique AR experiences for their customers.Data and Product VisualizationsAs AR technology develops, it will become increasingly important for data analysts and product managers to be able to visualize data in new and innovative ways.AR provides the ability to view data in a three-dimensional space, which can help people better understand complex concepts. AR can also be used to create simulations that allow people to test products before they are released. This can help businesses save time and money by identifying potential problems early on.Increased Tech Literacy Demands From EmployersThe advancement of technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) is increasing demand for workers who have strong skills in using technology to do their jobs.With the rise of AR, it is more important than ever for workers to be able to use technology to its full potential to keep up with the demands of the workplace.