There has been a lot of excitement about Google Now but the real story is about how it opens up a window on users' whole lives.
If ‘data is the new oil’ then Google just found a much bigger oil field.
There’s an analytics revolution going on right now with loads of new analytical toys, a massive increase in board-level interest and lots of new data to work with. This revolution is powering many of the new mobile and social media start-ups.
But do not get distracted by the service when it is what’s under the hood that counts. The really clever thing about Google Now is not the magical but-slightly-creepy-and-telepathic service suggestions but the chance that it gives Google to know you much better and more deeply than any other firm on the planet.
With mobile and social it’s about the data not the service
In articles about new mobile apps and services the focus is usually on what the service does. But the real story is in how to do it because, let’s face it, if a service is good then we want to know how to do it ourselves.
The key to this is in understanding the analytics that produce the service and getting the customer data that ‘fuels’ these analytics.
We all know that social media is spreading along the whole customer journey and up the supply chain into B2B relationships. And we are always hearing about new mobile services and apps. But every new service is also a chance to learn more about your customers.
This is absolutely critical because the more you know about a customer’s life then the more you can personalise your approach, tone, timing, channel, pricing, offer and anything else. The more you know about their individual context, from what Will Critchlow calls ‘implicit signals’, then the more you can make everything that you do and offer fit each and every customer.
So, whether it's more targeted campaigns that reduce wasted resources and use more polished images and messages; or new product features; or just stocking the right inventory, it is very very useful to understand more about your customers’ lives. Because that it what they are buying for.
Every service touch point in a relationship is a chance to learn more about your customers. For example, financial services firms get a good idea of your financial health and a bit of a clue about your life goals. But not much. The customer data that financial services firms get directly from their customers is like looking at a customer’s life through a key hole.
Loyalty card data is much richer. But it is still just the customer’s shopping life, and just the part which is covered by one card. Customers are only loyalish to loyalty cards – how many do you own?
Mobile is an unprecedented source of customer data
Mobile services that use apps or mobile sites have the potential to give an infinitely richer view of a customer’s life, which a good Analytical Strategy can then convert into a much deeper understanding of what the customer needs, plus why and how they want it – even if they have no idea themselves.
It’s common to hear about how mobile services can give location data and many apps are based on this. It’s also common to hear about how mobile services give real-time customer data (do you ever turn your phone off?) and it’s always a segment-of-one because you personally downloaded the app.
These are incredibly powerful levers to play with if you want to deeply understanding your customers’ lives.
But mobile really opens up the window on your customers’ lives by letting you have two-way relationships that are in-line with customer expectations. Let’s not forget that mobile phones were originally two-way communications devices, so a few prompts and bit of a choice can get you to a much more specific understanding of each customer’s personal context.
And finally, if customers download your app then they expect to have a conversation about your products plus a few related suggestions. Questions and suggestions that are unrelated to the brand that asks them are just creepy.
The next stage in mobile
So the next stage in mobile will be mobile ‘sat navs’ – like satellite navigation guides. Guides that give you great suggestions which you never would have thought of by yourself and which are based on your life at that moment and your current life goals.
These life goals can be your new kitchen, new house, new career, new marriage or anything else that can be inferred from your data.
Mobile ‘sat navs’ are guides that use recommendation engines to personalise content marketing in real-time. Like a GPS for your life, they help you navigate through the part of your life that you are in right ‘Now’ – your week, your day, your minute and your social life, your work life or any other aspect of your life.
Sounds implausible? Well take a look at Google Now (or Apple’s Siri or IBM’s Watson). Google did a great job of figuring out what interests you from a search box, they built an empire on it. But it was difficult to link separate searches together, although cookies and a Google+ login helped a lot.
Google Now does much better than that. It potentially opens a window on your whole life. There is a lot of interest in these ‘anticipatory data services’ but the real story is in what they tells these firms about you.
We’re using a mixture of Big Data analytics and new data science discovery techniques to develop the analytical strategies which make sense of all this – and it looks like Google Now and Life Sat Navs are going to be significantly bigger than Google search.