Consumer awareness of brands exists in a digital bubble — immediate, ephemeral and reactive. What populates that bubble comes through so-called “edge devices”— smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, digital assistants, connected vehicles, and the rest of the Internet of Things (IoT) in a smart home.
Whether its choosing your interactive adventure or getting in-the-moment intel on road hazards, the edge computing movement promises more rewarding experiences as a result of empowered systems, bringing big changes to shopping, sports and home entertainment. Edge computing is data processing that happens on consumers’ personal devices rather than in remote data centers, and the edge is where people are interfacing with brands today.
The immersive movies and uninterrupted virtual reality games made possible on the new digital end points will also change the way customers engage with brands, and with that engagement comes massive new opportunities for marketers. A media content provider like Netflix can use data and customer preferences collected from interactive programming like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, building an expectation on the part of customers for ever more relevant, personalized content.
As edge devices change broader consumer behavior, companies will need to catch up in how they market to their customers and in how they provide support. They can’t continue operating as in the past. Traditional retailers have had 25 years to adapt to e-commerce; now a new company is lucky to have 25 months. Adapt, or go the way of struggling Pier 1 Imports and Forever 21.
Voice interaction has become a critical part of the technology interface in edge devices. Even if the company has the item or service that a consumer wants, it has to be discoverable through voice search on edge devices or it doesn’t really exist. Many people don't even search directly anymore; it’s faster to ask Alexa, Siri or the Google Assistant to search for them. Why wait for a friend’s recommendation when saying “car repair near me” will cause multiple advertisements or articles related to body shops to appear instantly on every device and float through every social network?
Marketing infrastructure has to become more efficient and predictive for a product or service to secure a prime spot within the awareness bubble. If Dad tells Alexa to add “laundry detergent” to the shopping list, Alexa won’t ask about brand preference. She will order the brand that she has been programmed on the backend to order, based on AI-enabled predictions— and partnership deals for keywords.
As smart networks and digital assistants become standardized features in the home, customer experience technology must adapt and integrate to serve these new channels. Moreover, the customer expects their desired information to appear on their device at the exact right time, when they're in the mood for it.This changes how marketers engage with their audiences and requires systems to adjust the product or service offering dynamically to support the constantly evolving user.
It’s not enough to track what your customers are typing — are you tracking what they’re saying? Is the request said in anger or in joy? And are you tracking where the need is — in the car, in the kitchen, in the garage? The opportunities that a marketer has to engage with the customer are different in those moments, as is the data collected.Marketing algorithms should be able to predict what a customer is going to want the next time he or she starts binge-watching “Friends” on a tablet.
Although this kind of marketing technology is still in a rudimentary stage, we've already shifted to that kind of consumer expectation environment.The edge device for customer engagement and
support was once a telephone and then a computer, but today it’s also a smart speaker, smart display, and smart TV.
Edge computing is putting intelligence in these end points that will help companies to market to and service customers better with guided content. That’s how they can ensure their place inside the awareness bubble.