Razorfish5: Technologies That Will Change The Business of Brands

Digital agency Razorfish publishes a comprehensive report advising how business can leverage emerging technologies.

Razorfish’s Chief Technology Officer, Ray Velez, led the production of a report that focuses on how companies can work with emerging trends in technology including:

  • Near Field Communications
  • The Interface Revolution
  • Open APIs and Digital Services
  • Holistic Data Management
  • Businesses Shifting To Cloud Computing

The 45-page report starts by pointing to data regarding Apple’s expansion, Android’s growth, and the introduction draws heavily on Ray Kurzwell’s The Singularity is Near. Moving on, it delves deeply into 5 main areas that will impact the business of brands in the near future.

1. Near Field Communications (NFC) includes contactless and incremental payments using mobile technology. Likely innovation leaders here include Google, Apple, BMW, and Starbucks, who are already taking lead in many ways. The report points to NFC’s key strengths by mentioning that:

“NFC can connect a consumer with the physical world in ways that generate an infinite number of interactions or valuable profile data points. Consumer profiles could now include a user’s current location, where they have been, who they have been in contact with, who is in their social network, what media content (across multiple channels) they have consumed and even how much influence they have on other consumers’ purchase decisions.”

NFC has been available for years, its advertising potential as well as the privacy guidelines it must abide by are slowly being clarified today. Stay updated on developments in this technology by checking out the NFCNews blog.

Razorfish’s Predictions

  • NFC technology and motion-sensors will proliferate in public transportation, digital signage, and retail ecosystems; they will be more packed in urban areas, which will be more responsive to our handsets by supporting mobile tags.
  • Apple, Google, and Microsoft will speed up the pace of adoption of NFC.

2. The Interface Revolution points to a migration from mouse and keyboard navigation, to Natural User Interfaces (NUI), which includes touch screen technology, motion sensors, and biometrics:

“Brands that can successfully leverage these new user environments by creating personalized, natural user interfaces will build stronger and more lasting relationships with their existing customers and open doors to potential new customers”

Tablets are paramount in leading this trend and the report discusses tablets usage data extensively; their size, speed, and intuitive design have taken computing, productivity, and content engagement to the next level. Take a look at this video spotlighting Razorfish’s Amnesia Connect or the Tron Legacy app touch-screen interfaces. As for gestural control, the report argues that it is not limited to the living room or Xbox Kinect, but there are also serious attempts at bringing such technology to the outdoors and pave the way for mood recognition.

Razorfish’s Predictions

  • Investment in Natural User Interfaces will increase as brands seek to create differentiated, more memorable experiences.
  • More importantly, interconnected experiences will be developed, nurturing “hyper-personalized” brand experiences.

3. Open APIs and digital services are a logical next step for any brand that has created an app or has a robust consumer-to-consumer communication. The report points out that there is “enormous opportunity for true innovation by connecting with consumers and empowering to transact with your brand on their own terms”. This means enabling the platform to grow by letting users change the rules. Examples include Amazon, Best Buy, Netflix, and eBay.

Razorfish’s Predictions

  • Major brands will support developer community participation with a dedicated website to them.
  • Brand will also move beyond the breakdown of paid, earned, and owned media to embrace and integrate open digital services into their marketing and public relations.

4. Holistic Data Management is a big question mark especially for digital agencies. While consumers experience sensory and information overload, companies are sitting on unforeseen amounts of data and have datawarehouse appliances such as Google’s MapReduce, HP’s Vertica, noSQL, Teradata, IBM’s Netezza, and cloud-based Massively Parallel Processing (MPP). The report goes on to claim that the questions isn’t about managing “big data, but to, simply, think big” when it comes to “big data solutions”. There is a hefty section on big data; Ray Velez comments on the role of using data to advance targeting and personalization:

“It is far too rare that this data and targeting information is used beyond display ads, and leveraged across multiple channels, from websites, to mobile, to email, to social applications, and beyond… The next phase of benefit realization is being seen in cross-channel intelligence combined with targeting across multiple touchpoints.”

From an analytics perspective, social media data poses interesting challenges that the analyst is not confronted with in search or display. Firstly, social media enables marketers to keep a pulse on reactions to their campaigns. Secondly, users’ ideas and opinions form quickly, usually out-pacing the time it takes for an agency to react. Social media experts now continuously interact with brand communities, oftentimes improvising within parameters that meet the brand’s strategic objectives.

Razorfish’s Predictions

  • Collecting and monitoring data will be equalled in importance by the role of interpreting and synthesizing data sources.
  • The role of Data Scientists will become even more crucial to both agencies and clients.

5. Businesses are shifting to cloud computing to be smarter about their usage of storage space and processing speed. Instead of paying for space below or over business needs, cloud computing enables businesses to pay only for what they use, meaning “scaling automatically on demand… So, your marketing team purchases media or keywords, causing a spike in traffic and your infrastructure scales without administrator intervention”. The report gives Rackspace as an example of a company innovating in this space.

Razorfish’s Predictions

  • Adopters of cloud computing will outpace companies that rely on traditional computing.
  • Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance will become widespread, enabling businesses “to make decisions based on real-world working software instead of document speculation”.

Read the full Razorfish5 report here

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