All Posts by BreakawayGlenn

People buy experiences, not products

At Adobe Summit 2018, Adobe EVP and GM for digital experience Brad Rencher challenged brand marketers to “make experience your business.”  2018 was the year when marketers, chief experience officers, and leaders across business organizations, started to get it that people buy experiences, not products.

Rencher asserted that while the good folks at Adobe have spent a ton of time thinking about the types of experience customers want and need, he said, “. . . we need to change from experience thinkers to experience makers. We need to be customer-obsessed, not customer-centric.”

Okay, now that sounds good. Being customer-obsessed means you are REALLY serious about it, right? To the point of being a little crazy about it. And that’s probably a good thing in most cases. 

But here’s the thing: you have to ask yourself, what are you really obsessed about? How do you know what that is? Do you know your customer that well? How do you know if you do or not? Do you talk with each of your customers every day to know? 

Now you are probably saying, of course not. How could I possibly do that?

The typical answers are: with standard VoC surveys or more targeted methods like feedback from your frontline employees. Yes, they work to some extent, but can they scale? Do they cover the waterfront? 

So how do you know your customer so well you are totally aligned with them and their experience of you is totally aligned with their business life?

You get to know that with intelligent software agents. You know, the chatbot—conversational commerce, some people call it. But that term cheapens and discounts the true potential of these intelligent software agents. It’s the conversation that counts, where you learn in real-time and first hand through the chatbot what is on your customer’s mind, what propels them to do the things they do and you will learn exactly how they are experiencing your company. Not just your customer service, or your products, your services, but experiencing your company within every facet of their business. 

These software intelligent agents, these chatbots, are the conversation conductors for the artificial intelligence that takes that information and transforms it for the enterprise so that the humans at the enterprise make intelligent choices on behalf of their customers. AI gets at least 10 times the information and does this at least 10 times faster than humans, empowering the human in your business to do the human things they need to do, and not the things that machines do better. 

That is the opportunity in this new world where people buy experiences, not products. 

Industrial Internet of Things Content Intelligence for Fun and Profit

Many organizations spend a lot of time mapping customer journey workflows. There is a 7 trillion dollar marketplace approaching that will open up new opportunities for mapping customer journey workflows. It’s called the Internet of Things.  

IoT data alone doesn’t allow marketers to construct customer journeys, but it is valuable because it augments data from primary sources. For instance, companies can improve the customer journey if they have access to device data that reveals customers’ preferred channels of interaction, the types of offers and valuable, relevant information that are most relevant to certain individuals, and the times of day when people are most inclined, and have the greatest need, to interact with a company.

Now let’s talk about the Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT as it’s known, for short. Industrial IoT can be thought of the networked connections between people, things, and systems in the industrial space. It can be a harvester combine used in agriculture, a plastics molding machine, or the use of TV screens displaying video and Web pages on the backs of seats on passenger planes.  Data can be used from an analytical perspective as inputs to machine learning models, optimization algorithms and business decision rules to help direct customers down appropriate pathways within a customer journey. 

In other words, the ways we use machines can inform as to our needs in real time, communicate them to companies who are in a position to help, who then provide instructions to those machines to perform better and provide more value. 

Look for the advent of Industrial IoT Content Intelligence—bridging the chasm dividing content intelligence and the customer/organization/ Industrial IoT nexus. In concert with Industrial IoT, content is delivered in smart ways that key on, build upon, and support Industrial IoT to provide new pathways for device and equipment users, and well-guided customer journeys. 

Data has no value unless you extract knowledge from it

“Oil has no value unless you extract energy from it, data has no value unless you extract knowledge from it.”—James Whittaker, Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft

Whittaker says that Apps are eating the web. The Internet of Things will ultimately mean more Internet traffic generated and consumed by machines than by humans. Machines are learning our habits faster than we can form them. What does all this mean for the future? How will we interact with our devices when they are as smart or smarter than we are? How will anyone manage to make money in this coming world?

Whittaker looks to the 2020s as the era of IoT and Big Data. The 2010s, for now, are still the decade of mobile and apps. But for how long? 

The key to taking advantage of commercial opportunities in Internet of Things is approaching consumer (customer) needs differently. Instead of creating an app that needs to be found and downloaded, companies must figure out how to meet consumer (customer) needs seamlessly, without using a browser or a search engine or other human intervention.

Now that signals a new era, doesn’t it? 

Digital Assistants and Flash Briefings

Especially if you know what is a flash briefing, you are likely already using a digital assistant. But did you know which digital assistant is the smartest?

According to a study by Stone Temple, Google Assistant is number 1, Cortana is number 2, Alexa is number 3 but get this, Alexa is making the biggest gains year over year. Amazon, do they have one heck of a marketplace.  Siri is number 4.  But every competing personal assistant made significant progress in closing the gap with Google.

All B2B marketers should be producing their own Alexa flash briefing now.  It’s the Wild West and there’s lots of room right now to quickly gain attention and an audience, but that will not be the case even 3 years from now.  Gary Vaynerchuk talks about this outstanding opportunity in his book Crushing It.  Do yourself a big favor, get the book today and if you listen to just one chapter, be sure to listen to the chapter on Voice. 

Consider Machine Intelligence for Piloting Your Business

A Price Waterhouse Coopers team led by Chris Curran tracked emerging technologies and chose eight as essential for the enterprise in 2020.

First is Artificial Intelligence, followed by Augmented Reality, Blockchain, Drones, Internet of Things, Robots, Virtual Reality, and 3D Printing.

For the B2B Media Executive, a solid understanding of the basics starts with AI.

Artificial Intelligence is an umbrella term often used to cover subfields like machine learning, but there is a difference. In fact, cognitive computing, AI, machine learning, and deep learning all can be described as machine intelligence.

Cognitive computing is the sensory branch of sensory intelligence. Computers use sensors and algorithms to see, hear, and feel, bringing human capabilities to computers so they think, behave, and act like humans.

AI is the brain behind cognitive computing. AI brings decision-making capabilities to computers, which we experience every day in the form of recommendation engines—think Netflix and Amazon—chatbots, and self-driving cars.

Now, machine learning requires massive amounts of data to recognize patterns and make predictions.

Businesses are using the predictive aspects of machine learning to improve customer service, security and business efficiencies.

And finally, deep learning uses neural science to mimic the physiology and function of the human brain, takes machine learning and applies the way a human brain thinks. Deep learning is the most advanced form of machine learning and is becoming the preferred way to train computers.

Knowing what Machine intelligence is doing for business is more than looking smart at your next social gathering. It’s essential to piloting your business into the future.

The Path to Success is Paved by Investing in Others

As a leader in your industry,  it’s likely that you have run across the term emotional intelligence, which is chiefly about the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.

To truly be transformative one has to go beyond grasping and dealing with emotions. By choosing how you are being means putting the past in the past where it belongs and not letting it create your future for you. If you choose how you are being and have integrity top to bottom, nothing will stop, defeat or discourage you.

I was inspired by a recent blog by Bram Krommenhoek on Medium titled, The Sure Fire Way to Startup Success, but this can apply to you no matter if you are a CEO for a startup or a multi-national corporation.

In it, he talks about what negative people will do to you and what successful entrepreneurs do — the exact opposite. They:

  • Elevate others’ value,
  • Help build others’ image,
  • Create value for others,
  • Accelerate others’ dreams,
  • Praise others’ imagination,
  • Boost others’ abilities and
  • Are curious for your opinions.

Krommenhoek includes a brilliant video ad done by Apple in 1997 that talks about the “crazy ones” who push the human race forward and change the world. What you invest in others, has a direct impact not only on their lives but on the ways you build a business that stands the test of time.

Alexa Echo

Alexa In-Skill Purchasing is Here Now

Today I participated in a Twitch webinar conducted by the Amazon Alexa developer team. I got some news there I want to share with you. In a flash briefing series on my daily Alexa flash briefing, B2B Media Executive Insights,  I talked about the incredible opportunity for B2B media and information companies in Voice First. If you have asked, “how do I make money for my company with Voice First?” then ask no longer.

You can now make money directly by working in-skill purchasing into your custom Alexa skill.

You can do this in two ways:  First, you can do this for one-time purchases. This is your product purchase; a piece of content, a report, an ebook, anything you want to charge for.  Second, and get this. Charge for subscription.  Yes, you can subscribe people to your service with Voice First.

This is only the beginning.  There is a lot of discovery that is going into this. But one thing is certain. The time is now for your B2B media and information company to get into Voice First.

For more information go to Amazon Alexa In-Skill Purchasing

And check out Make Money with Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills (Now Generally Available)

If you have questions, feel free to ask me here, and if there is a way to help you get started with Voice First, let me know.

On solving the industry-specific problem as a Vertical AI startup with AI and subject matter expertise

Again and again, we’ve been revisiting this article by Bradford Cross and the embedded video of his talk at Data and Scale By the Bay, Vertical AI startups: Solving Industry-specific Problems by Combining AI and Subject Matter Expertise

I was reminded of the article recently when I talked with Greg Head of Scaling Point. Greg stressed starting with the need first, not the tech/software first. This is what Cross talks about with vertical AI and why AI startups should focus on providing a full-stack, fully-integrated solution to the end customer problem. Not only is this defensible, but you also control the “data value chain” and have pricing power.

So what are Vertical AI startups? As Cross says, they are full-stack products that require subject matter expertise, they gather unique, proprietary data from that domain, and then they use AI to deliver that core value proposition for that particular domain.