I was thinking about how businesses could better use data, and I wanted to do a quick case study with some real data… even if it’s only a little bit of real data. This post will look at how a company like Ster-Kinekor could benefit from investing in a smarter CRM system but hopefully it will have insights that can be used by other businesses.
Using the data that is publically available through Ster-Kinekor’s online booking system, I looked at ticket sales for a show across 10 cinemas at The Zone in Rosebank, all screened between 19:30 and 22:15 on Wednesday the 2nd of July 2014. For simplicity’s sake, I pegged the cost of each ticket at R62 and compared the number of tickets sold vs not sold based on the number of total seats in each cinema.*
- In total there were a total of 1,707 seats available to potential movie goers
- During the evening, only 216 seats (12.6%) were sold
- The other 1,491 (87.3%) of seats were vacant
- Sold tickets generated an estimated R13,392 in revenue
- The value of unsold tickets had an estimated value of R92,442
- This excludes popcorn, Coke and Astros
Now this isn’t enough data to jump to any conclusions, but you would imagine that The Zone would be one of the busier Ster-Kinekor cinemas. And while this is taken during the week, I’d assume that the real opportunity would be to look for ways to increase attendance during the least busy times, especially during the day….
At first I thought the solution might be for Ster-Kinekor to implement a loyalty programme:
See 10 movies, get the 10th one free. But while surfing on their website, I was shocked to find that they already have this in the form of the SK Club. The only thing is that 11th free movie at The Zone has already cost you between R310 – R620 depending on whether you watch your movies on a Tuesday or not.
But what if Ster-Kinekor had a better, smarter CRM programme and invested more in data-based marketing?
To me, there is a big difference between a loyalty programme and a CRM programme. While a loyalty programme can reward a customer, a CRM programme can go one step further by creating a unique and personalised experience for that customer. The way that this can be achieved is through data.
Every business generates data. The only thing usually missing is having the people with the right skill set to make sense of the data and identify the opportunities. When you get this right, data can be a huge competitive advantage.
The beauty about this Ster-Kinekor case study is that you can extrapolate any effort put into a CRM programme into a tangible business value. In many ways, the cinema chain’s business model is very similar to the hotel industry, another industry that has embraced the concept of CRM. Hotels sell rooms, Ster-Kinekor sells seats (and popcorn and Coke). The more people sitting in seats (and eating popcorn and drinking Coke), the bigger their bottom line.
The success of a great CRM programme (and the data people behind it) would depend on being able to find out how much money Ster-Kinekor could lose on tickets to increase the overall current profits from popcorn and Coke sales or vice versa….Theoretically speaking, Ster-Kinekor could probably afford to lose some money on both tickets and snacks, but only if they could increase the overall number of bums in seats.
Now between their loyalty cards and mobile apps, Ster-Kinekor probably has a comprehensive database with enough information about their customers to build the foundation of a smarter CRM programme. Here are some ways that they could make this happen:
Not all customers are created equal. The buy 10 get 1 free mechanic is great, but if you are a true movie fan, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could unlock a tiered discount based on your patronage? As it stands, if you have a Discovery movie card, you actually pay more to watch a movie the second time than the first. In reality, it should be the other way round to increase repeat viewings and fill up cinemas…
In fact, if you think about it, even movie shows at different times of the day should be priced differently based on fluctuating demand….The only way to do this is to get a clearer understanding of each individual customer based on their long-term movie watching habits.
Social reviews aren’t just another way to increase visibility on social. Companies like Amazon and Netflix have used customer reviews and ratings to get a better understanding of customers, increase the amount of content viewed and increase sales.
By getting a better understanding of your individual customer’s favourite movie genres and actors, it would be possible to segment a database and geo-target them with time-based discount offers to increase attendance across various cinemas during week nights.
More Special Events
Ster-Kinekor already does premieres for the latest blockbuster movies, but I think this could be taken further by identifying and creating once off events targeted at specific movie fans. Imagine if Ster-Kinekor celebrated the birthdays of filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock with a weekend movie festival, or screened the original Planet of the Apes before the release of Dawn of the Apes. Halloween Horror festivals, Star Wars Marathons, 100 Movies to See Before You Die…all of these events could be promoted, amplified and tracked through digital means.
There are plenty ways that businesses can use data to create value. It requires investment, in both people and systems but if done correctly it can create a better experience for customers and more more money for a business. Now after that lengthy post, I think I really feel like going off to sit in a dark room and drink some Slush Puppy.
*The very small bit of data used for this post can be found here. If there are errors or oversights, please let me know and I will do my best to update it.
E3 is the biggest showcase for video games and this year, we finally got to see the first wave of post-launch, next gen games for the PS4, XBox One and Wii U. The general consensus was that the PS4 won E3 with a superior line up of games but the truth is, there are more than enough amazing games coming soon, regardless of which console you own.
So without further ado, here are the top 10 picks from E3 2014, ranked by their potential for being awesome:
1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
How do you explain a Metal Gear game in a paragraph? There is an overly complicated and intricate story running through the Metal Gear series…but if you know nothing about MGS, don’t worry just yet. MGS 5 promises large open world environments, tactical stealth action with amazing controls and top notch game design. The game is absolutely gorgeous with everything being modeled using in-game graphics. You play as Snake and the game follows your transformation from a reluctant hero into a reluctant villain as you embark on an epic quest for revenge. As games go, it is incredibly dark, angry and beautiful. Go now and play all the other games in the Metal Gear series because this is a game you will not want to miss!
2. Batman: Arkham Knight
The first two Arkham games were just incredible and now the original developers behind those games are back to deliver a truly next gen Batman experience. As Batman, you get to explore a Gotham City that is 5 times as large as previous games and…you get to do it in the Batmobile! As usual, we can expect a massive open world and incredibly tight controls that will make you feel that you are the Dark Knight – whether you are taking on a group of thugs with your bare hands or driving your tank through the crime-ridden streets. And what could be more fun than that?
3. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
There’s a reason that Sony closed their keynote at E3 by unveiling Uncharted 4. This is the franchise that Sony uses to showcase what the Playstation is capable of. Combining non-stop action with cinematic storytelling, there are few games that are as well polished as an Uncharted game. All you have to do is look at the Nathan Drake character model in the trailer below and you will be stunned at how incredible this game will look when it hits the PS4 next year.
4. Halo Masterchief Collection / Halo 5
The Halo franchise is one of Microsoft’s biggest draws and will be essential in helping sell more Xbox Ones. At E3, Microsoft announced that they would be bundling HD remakes of all four Halo games featuring the series’ original protagonist Master Chief. Nostalgic gamers will be pleased to know that they will be able to switch between the new HD graphics and those found in the original games on the fly. In addition to this, the game will be bundled with the over 100+ multiplayer maps from all four games. This will be a must own. And if that is not enough, Microsoft will also be launching a brand new Halo game, Halo 5, in 2015.
Destiny is a PS4 exclusive made by Bungie, the studio behind the original Halo games. Not surprisingly, it looks very similar to a Halo game, blending first person shooting and vehicle combat in space, in the future. In Destiny, you play as a guardian who must fight against The Darkness (an intergalactic evil space force, not the British rock band who believe in a thing called love). Sony has high expectations for this title but it will remain to be seen if it can match the success of the Halo series…
6. Mortal Kombat X
There was a time where Mortal Kombat games sucked for a bit but then they got good again with the release of Mortal Kombat 9. One of the reasons MK 9 was so good was that it introduced a new combat system. This system was further improved DC spinoff Injustice: Gods Amongst Us which featured different sized fighters, each with unique attributes such as speed or strength. Mortal Kombat X looks to take the fighting even further with a more fluid and dynamic fighting system, interactive environments and more blood, more gore and more violence. FIGHT!
7. Star Wars Battlefront
Not much of Star Wars Battlefront was shown off at E3. Instead, all we got was a short video of the game’s developers talking about their passion for Star Wars. The attention to detail the team is putting into the game is impressive and while it is still early days, it looks like it’s going to pay off. The short glimpse of a rebel soldier riding a speeder bike on Endor should be enough to make any Star Wars fan cheer!
8. Mario Maker
Nostalgia is a powerful thing and I’d like to think that most people who have played a video game have played the original 8-bit Mario Bros. Now, with Mario Maker, Nintendo is giving players the chance to create and share their own 8-bit Mario adventures. And it looks awesome! While Nintendo might be struggling with sales of the Wii U, this incredibly simple idea proves that the company can still bring something different and quirky to the world of video games by leveraging its iconic line up of classic games.
9. Rise of the Tomb Raider
I’ll be honest. Like Mortal Kombat, there was a time when Tomb Raider games sucked. A long time. Thankfully the Tomb Raider franchise was rebooted in 2013 and the result was a fantastic game. Sure, it stole liberally from games like Uncharted, but it stole well and even improved things by adding hunting and survival elements into the mix. The Tomb Raider reboot was amazing…and for that reason alone, with a pre-rendered trailer and no hint of the game itself, the potential of a follow up is enough to be included on this list.
10. Super Smash Bros
Super Smash Bros is one of the bigger titles from Nintendo and offers players the chance to brawl in four-way fights as classic video game characters like Mario, Donkey Kong, Sonic and others. The game is easy to pick up and play, a ton of fun with friends and seemed to impress at E3. But instead of checking out the trailer, rather watch the latest epsode of of Conan O Brien’s Clueless Gamer to get a first look:
This list shows that gamers will be spending much of the next year sitting alone in the dark, playing with themselves. But with so many good games, who can blame them? What game are you most looking forward to? Leave a comment and let me know which games you would have added to the list.
This post is dedicated to everyone who sent messages of support and well wishes after I was diagnosed with cancer. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly express how grateful I am, but I will try my best.
What to do when you get bad news
When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I tried my best not to cry but failed. I’ll always be grateful to the amazing team of doctors and medical professionals at the Sunninghill Hospital who diagnosed me as they literally saved my life. As I struggled with my tears, one of the doctors reassured me by saying “if you are going to have cancer, this is the type of cancer that you want to have.”
Despite the bad news, I was extremely fortunate. My cancer is very treatable and we have caught it relatively early. Despite this, I couldn’t help but start crying once again when I got back to casualty. I cried so hard that two nurses came to check up on me because they thought I was in physical pain. The only way I could convince them to go was to lamely mutter that I had just received ‘bad news’.
I stopped crying after about half an hour, and I remembered that the important thing to do in a situation like this is to be positive. As soon as the tears stopped, I knew that I had already hit rock bottom and had begun the process of bouncing back.
In the weeks that have followed, I’ve realised that sometimes we don’t have control over what happens to us. We all know that there is a possibility that we could be diagnosed with a terminal disease or be involved in a fatal accident on any given day. We also know that one day, we will die. Most of the time, these are just abstract concepts but sometimes they can become a very tangible reality. It’s never fun getting bad news. But as bad as any news you receive is, until you hear a doctor say something like “I’m sorry, there is nothing we can do…”, it could always be much worse.
Bad news travels fast. And that’s good…
My first major challenge after getting diagnosed with cancer was calling my family and breaking the news. Within half an hour, my sister and my girlfriend were by my side in hospital and my parents had started a 15 hour drive back from Cape Town to Joburg. I can’t imagine how shitty that drive must have been, but I was never happier to see them than when they walked into my hospital room. This small group has not left my side and have done nothing but look after me. I’ll never be able to thank them for everything they have done and everything they will still have to do before I’m fully recovered.
When I first told my boss Nick that I was sick, he was shocked but incredibly supportive. I initially asked him to be ‘discreet’ with the news, but after a few days of being MIA, as well as being isolated in hospital, I decided that it might be a good idea to go public and share the news on Facebook.
I didn’t know what to expect but nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelmingly positive response I received. I received nothing but love, support and well wishes. I’m thankful that bad news travels fast because I got so many messages of support and so many good vibes that it made dealing with my situation that much easier.
These messages started three weeks ago, and they just haven’t stopped. My friend Dave started a social media campaign for me called #snapsforadam (you can read more about it here). I still get about 10 snaps a day from work friends who want me to know they are still thinking about me and are waiting for me to get better. It’s been absolutely incredible.
Some of my other good friends – Fareed, Anne and Kirsty – have written some truly incredible and heartwarming blogs, while my girlfriend Jade has also written about her experiences since I was diagnosed. Even Natalie has gotten involved by opening up the world’s first ever Black Store. You can find links to all these amazing things here:
Whether it was a simple Facebook comment, a snap, an SMS, an offer to pray for me or a phone call to my family, I appreciate everything that everyone has done, said and offered since I was diagnosed. Cancer sucks but it sucks a lot less when you know you are not alone.
The Good News about Good Advice
If nothing else, being diagnosed with cancer puts things in perspective very quickly. It’s a shame that it usually takes having to go through something as horrible as being diagnosed with cancer to get this kind of perspective. But hopefully you will be able to avoid going through something horrible and just take my word on this:
Every piece of good advice you’ve ever heard is 100% true.
People always tell you that life is short. That you should live each day to the fullest. To spend time with friends and family. To wear sunscreen, etc., etc. As simple as they sound, every cliche that you’ve ever heard about what’s really important in life, how to be happy and how to enjoy your life is 100% correct. If you find that you have either time or opportunity, don’t waste it.
Most of the blogs my friends wrote for me ended with a plea to make a difference by supporting a local cancer charity like CHOC or CANSA. Obviously, if you are able to donate, that would be amazing. But if you can’t or don’t feel that this is your particular bag, I have another suggestion:
Just go out there and try do something good. It could be donating money, donating time or just helping someone who is in need. This experience has taught me that bad things happen every day. But so do good things.
All we can hope for is to be one of those good things.
by Adam Skikne
Advertising people like to talk a lot about data. There is a commonly held belief by many people in the industry that data is the future of advertising. And while I do believe that data has the potential to revolutionise advertising, I also can’t shake the feeling that a lot of people talking about data don’t actually know a lot about it.
So without any further ado, here is why advertising people should calm down a bit when talking about the future of advertising and data:
1. Businesses Already Have Plenty of Data
Most marketers paint data as this magical silver bullet that will solve everything that is currently wrong with advertising (which is a lot). But if data is that amazing, why aren’t more advertising people making use of the data they already have? Every company already has plenty of data that could be used to grow their business – so why isn’t it being used?
It’s already possible to work out things like the lifetime value of a customer or a brand’s share of a customer’s wallet. Every company is able to track their competitors’ online activity. There is a wealth of public social data that brands can mine and merge with existing CRM programmes. You can already do amazing things with data. Instead of talking about the future of data and advertising we should rather be seeing what we can do with data we already have.
2. More Data is Not Always Better
The amount of data and information available to us is increasing all the time but that doesn’t mean that all of it is actually useful. This idea is something that Nate Silver unpacks in his book The Signal and the Noise.
In the book, Silver looks at the factors that prevent us from making accurate predictions. Why didn’t the majority of economists see the global financial crisis coming? Why can’t scientists predict the weather or the effects of global warming? Why do security agencies still miss terrorist threats? In all of these cases, a number of extremely smart people had access to a lot of data and still got things very wrong.
More data is not necessarily a good thing. Avinash Kaushik echoed this sentiment when he described the paradox of data: “A lack of data means you cannot make complete decisions, but even with a lot of data, you still get an infinitesimally small number of insights.” When people talk about data, what they really want is insights. Ideally, we should be focusing less on data and more on insights.
3. Advertising People Are Not Data People (or at least not yet)
Everyone in the industry is talking a lot about data but how many of them are employing people who actually know anything about data? What percentage of agencies are made up of data people? 5%? 1%? 0,5%? If data is so important, why don’t we have more data people in the industry?
I may be unlucky but I’ve sat through some very questionable “data-driven” presentations. For example, one post-campaign report focused on the click through rate of mobile banner ads. The result was less than 2%, which was still double the average click through rate for mobile banner ads. Sounds great right? The problem was that the content on the other side of the ad was not mobile friendly and would crash the smartest of smartphones. Even with a 100% click through rate, the only thing those ads would have done was waste a client’s money and frustrate the end user.
I’ve got one friend who is a process engineer and another friend with a doctorate who is an actual data scientist. Compared to the average Art Director, I might consider myself to be a “data person”. But in the real world, I’m not a data person. I’m still someone who works in advertising that understands a very limited set of metrics. Let’s not lose our minds here.
Having said that, agencies need to hire more data people. Real data people. They need to up-skill their staff or encourage them to watch some statistics videos on Khan Academy… or something.
Of course data is going to play an important role in the future of advertising. But we need to stop talking about data and start using it. We need to understand the limits of data because it’s not magic sauce. And if we want to be taken seriously, we need to seriously up our game or start hiring some real data people.
Do you remember when you were a kid and people spoke to you about “the future”? The future was filled with things from science fiction like space travel, flying cars and robots. The future was a time when anything would be possible.
But after you grow up, the future quickly becomes something different. It’s the thing you start saving for; hoping that you’ll have enough money to live relatively comfortably in between the time you retire and the time you drop dead.
Personally, I think the flying cars and space travel version is much better.
And while I’m amazed that we have things like GPS, smartphones and Wikipedia; I still feel that there are some things from when I was growing up that “the future” promised us…and never quite delivered:
I remember watching The Empire Strikes Back and realising that lightsabers were the coolest things that I have ever seen. What could be cooler than a glow in the dark laser sword with awesome sound effects? On a side note, my childhood mainly consisted of watching The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. I didn’t see the original Star Wars until much later. I don’t know why but I blame our local video shop for this.
Hoverboards were the second coolest thing I saw when I was a kid. I still can’t believe we don’t have these. There is something wrong with the world when Elon Musk can get the world to buy into things like the Hyperloop and living on Mars but no one can make a commercially feasible hoverboard.
Space was also another cool thing when I was a kid. NASA used to launch rockets into space. Astronauts used to go to the moon. Everyone got together and built a space station. And then things got expensive and everyone lost interest. But when I was a kid, the space of the future was also filled with…ALIENS! And for some reason they could all speak (or at least understand) English. The aliens could still be coming…but the English thing might be asking for too much.
As I mentioned earlier, the future was also supposed to be filled with robots. Robots were the things that were supposed to do all the crap that’s just too much effort. Think I’m being stupid? 96.4% of all the reasons that your life sucks can be traced back to a lack of robots. Fact.
5. Self-Driving Cars with Condescending British Accents
Ok. I’ll admit it. Out of everything on this list, self-driving cars are the closest things to actually becoming a reality. We should be eternally grateful to companies like Google who have made enormous strides in helping perfect this technology that is going to fundamentally change the way we live in the next decade. BUT…where is the snarky AI thing that makes you feel like there is a tiny British butler hiding in your dashboard or smartphone that makes you hate yourself by openly judging every decision you ever make? Sure Siri has a bit of sass but is she sufficiently advanced enough to make you feel you’re speaking to a robotic version of a Jewish mother? I’m on Android so I honestly don’t know.
A few months back, I signed up for Marvel Unlimited, a relatively new service that provides on-demand access to thousands of digital comics from Marvel that you can read online, on your phone or on your tablet. The service offers an all access pass to the Marvel Universe and costs about R500 a year, which is incredible value for money.
I initially signed up for the service with great hopes of writing a review on Electric Sheep. Unfortunately, my review of Marvel Unlimited is pretty simple:
- It’s a potentially great service plagued by buggy mobile apps
- There is no easy way to browse through the thousands of comics on offer
- The offline support is limited to six comics- which you can’t access without a working internet connection.
It’s pretty easy to get frustrated by any of the above issues. But…there is one area where the service shines, and that is the content. The library of comics on offer is absolutely amazing, fantastic, spectacular and uncanny. Plus Marvel keeps adding new comics to read each month. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for some of the more recent titles, or if you’re looking to dig into classic issues from the Golden Age of the Marvel Universe. Marvel Unlimited is worth the price of admission for any comic book fan.
After playing around with the Marvel Unlimited app, I’ve given a lot of thought to how digital has changed the ways we consume media. I thought back to what it was like when I first started collecting comics as a kid. And as much as I like all things digital, I think I had my first “old man moment” when I started thinking about the future of the comic book.
I remember the trials and tribulations of trying collect comics while growing up in South Africa. My local CNA had a modest selection at best (basically X-Men, Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, and maybe a few other titles). Availability was often sporadic. I once spent months collecting the first three issues of a particular run of Amazing Spider-Man and then waiting the usual four weeks for the fourth and final issue which mysteriously never came…This kind of stuff happened all the time.
I started collecting comics in an age of scarcity. I remember going over to my cousin’s house and finding out that he had bought a direct edition of X-Men #25. It’s the issue where Magneto rips out Wolverine’s skeleton, and my cousin had picked it up for a whole R25 – which was a lot of money when I was a kid. It was the last copy and there was no way to get another one. I spent years trying to find a comic that my cousin wanted enough to trade for his copy of X-Men #25 but never found one.
One of the best parts of collecting comics was actually going to my local comic shop. The first comic shop I went to closed down shortly after I first visited it. It didn’t take me long to migrate over to Zed Bee in Edenvale which is where I spent the majority of my formative years, as well as all of my pocket money. Visiting Zed Bee was the highlight of my week and I can honestly say that my love of reading and writing was born in that store.
I still try to visit Zed Bee as often as possible. I love browsing their shelves, talking to the staff and getting their recommendations about what’s worth reading. Earlier this year I got into a fascinating conversation about how the comic book is the only medium where dozens of writers have interpreted the same characters for such a long time – pretty much 80 plus years and counting.
Thinking back to my experiences of collecting comics growing up and it makes me feel conflicted about a service like Marvel Unlimited. Part of me wishes I had something like it when I was growing up. I don’t think I could have ever imagined that one day; it would be possible to read almost any Marvel comic with the push of a button. I think that would have blown my tiny little mind.
But for all the value and convenience, I don’t think I would have traded it for my memories of collecting comics.
I hope that any kid growing up today gets their parent to sign them up for something like Marvel Unlimited. I hope any kid lucky enough to have a tablet buys a digital comic or two on a regular basis and spends less time playing Angry Birds or taking photos of milkshakes on Instagram. But I also hope that the parents of those same kids take them to a comic shop so they can buy actual comics.
There are so many great things about the digital world. Digital makes our lives more convenient and can offer value in ways that the real world can’t. But when I think back to my experience of collecting comics as a kid, I realise that you lose something if your only experience of something you love is digital.
It doesn’t matter if it’s comics, books or music. There is no question that the majority of the content that we’ll consume moving forward will be digital. But there are still some books that I want to own as physical books. There are still some artists that I want to see live instead of on a playlist. And there are still some experiences like visiting your local comic shop that no digital offering will be able to match.
So what does the future of the comic book look like? More than likely, it will be mostly digital. But hopefully there is still a bit of room for the real comic books that I grew up with. I’ve still got the entire collection that I built up as a kid and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Last week, Google CEO Larry Page announced on the official Google blog that Andy Rubin would be stepping down as the head of Android. As a fan of Android, part of me is really sad to see him go. This is most likely because I find it hard to imagine Android without Andy Rubin. As one of the original founders of Android, it’s hard not too think of him in relation to Android in the same way most people think of Steve Jobs in relation to Apple. Along with dessert themed releases and their corresponding statues at Google’s headquarters, Andy Rubin has always been an important part of what makes Android what it is.
Andy Rubin’s initial vision for Android was to create a robust, open-sourced mobile operating system that would increase innovation, create choice and transform the mobile industry. It was an insane idea. But what is more insane is that he’s pretty much pretty much achieved what he initially set out to do. Over the past decade, Android has become the world’s most used mobile operating system with more than 750 million Android devices activated throughout the world.
Android is a phenomenal success. And perhaps it’s because Android is such a success that it is time for Andy Rubin to move on. Andy Rubin has built a strong foundation for Android and there is no telling where the OS will be in another ten years. Due to the openness of the platform, there is a strong possibility that it will make the jump from smartphones and tablets and be used to create the various smart devices that we use in our homes, in our offices and while we’re on the go.
Of course the person who will oversee this will be Sundar Pichai, the head of Chrome and Apps at Google and the man who will be taking over as head of Android from Andy Rubin (in retrospect, this would explain the giant Chrome Android statue that Google installed at their headquarters earlier this year). And while most people are wondering what Pichai will do next with Android, others are wondering what will be next for Rubin himself.
Larry Page has asked Rubin for more moon shots and in a farewell email to the various Android partners, Andy Rubin described himself as an ‘entrepreneur at heart’ and says that he is excited to begin a new chapter within Google. If Android has reached the point where it just isn’t ambitious enough for Andy Rubin, then I think we should be extremely excited about what he is going to be working on next.
It probably won’t be Project Glass. It probably won’t be Google’s self-driving car. But it will probably be something even more exciting. Leo Laporte joked on a recent episode of TWIG that Andy Rubin might be working on actual androids or some other project relating to robotics. And while this was said in jest, it wouldn’t surprise me if this is true. Whatever Andy Rubin works on next, if Google is looking for another moon shot, then Andy Rubin might just be the guy to give them on.
It’s going to be a new era for Android. But it’s also going to be a new era for Andy Rubin.
At the end of 2012, Joshua Topolsky wrote an editorial for The Verge entitled Reasons to be excited. In the piece, Topolsky stated that while we’ve spent the past few years getting used to things like social networks, smartphones and tablets, 2013 will be the year where we will begin to understand the impact that these new technologies will have on our lives.
Make no mistake. If you are in digital, it is definitely the time to be excited. We’ve all heard the proverbial promises of what will be possible “one day”. Well “one day” is almost here and some of the things that you thought would only be possible in science fiction movies will be rolling out to consumers in the next three to five years. We are about to enter a smart new world.
Robert Scoble and Shel Israel are two men who are perfectly positioned to understand the importance of the shift currently taking place in the world of technology and business. The pair are currently writing a new book entitled The Age of Context which is set to be released later this year. The book, which recently received $100 000.00 in funding, will argue that we are moving from an age of conversation which has been characterised by the rise of social media to an age of context which will be shaped by five key trends:
- Smart sensors (your smartphone currently has around seven of these)
- Wearable devices (think Nike FuelBands and Google Glass)
- Big Data
- The exponential increase in the volume of social data
- The exponential increase in the volume of location data
The above five trends will lead to a proliferation of smart products and services that will be able to provide highly personalised experiences based on an individual’s data. This needs to happen because while the amount of information that we generate on a daily basis is growing exponentially, not all of it is useful to us.
Last year, IBM estimated that we create 2.5 quintillion (add seventeen zeros) new bytes of data each day. This includes all the tweets, status updates, blog posts, reviews, check-ins, photos and videos that are uploaded and shared on the internet each day. It should be noted that while the above stat might sound impressive, it’s also probably already outdated.
We have access to more data and more information than ever before. And while we’ve often been told that more data is always better, this is only true up to a point. The truth is, is that information is only valuable to us if it is relevant and relevancy is dependant on context. And no one knows this more than Google.
Google is probably the biggest company to embrace the concept of smart technology. On paper, Google knows more about you than any other company on the planet. But the only way it can create value for you (and advertisers) is to know who you are, who you know, where you are, what you’ve looked for in the past and what you are looking for now in order to provide you with information that is relevant. That’s why Google is currently working on a number of smart products including Google Now, Google Glass and a self-driving car.
Despite only running on 13% of Android devices, Google Now was named as Popular Science’s Invention of the Year for 2012. The product has been designed to predictively give you the right information at the right time and when it succeeds, it’s magical. The way it is able to do this is by making smart connections based on the information Google already knows about you.
For example, it can work out where you live based on where you wake up each morning. It can work out where you work based on where you commute to. And it will automatically recommend an alternative route to work by factoring in current traffic conditions from Google Maps. And according to an interview with CNN, Google CEO Larry Page envisions being able to even summon one of Google’s self-driving cars to come collect you when your phone notices that you are ready to leave work for the day.
In addition to this, Google is also working on Glass – a set of glasses with a heads up display that can connect to your smartphone that allows you to record video, take pictures, get directions, send messages, video chat, voice search and plenty more. Glass will probably be the first of a number of new devices that will create new opportunities where contextual information will be extremely valuable. Google is aiming to bring Glass to market in 2014 and have recently released a video where you can get a taste of how it will function in the real world.
But Google isn’t the only big company to embrace smart technology. The New York Times recently published an article about Disney introducing RFID bracelets as part of their MyMagic+ system to help build brand loyalty and increase sales at their theme parks.
Through these smart bracelets, Disney will be able to eliminate turnstiles from the entrances to Disney World and allow visitors to spend less time in lines for rides. Disney has also developed an app that can be used to load credit onto a particular smart bracelet which can then be used to pay for goods within the theme park. If you opt in, you can also share your personal information with Disney cast members who will be able to greet you by name or even wish you happy birthday.
With 30 million people visiting Disney World each year, the MyMagic+ system will help Disney build detailed profiles for each of their customers. Where did they enter the park? How far did they walk? Which rides did they ride? What did they buy? Which characters did they interact with? How often do they come back? What offer could get them to come back again?All of this data can be used to dramatically enhance their current CRM strategy.
This is just a taste of what’s to come. A decade ago, no one could have predicted the impact that Facebook, Twitter and other social networks would have on our daily lives. And looking ahead, there is no way we can predict the impact that smart technology will have on the next ten years. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have plenty of reasons to be excited.