With CES 2015 around the corner, brands are giving increased attention to emerging technology. But how are brands to decipher which technologies are important and which are not? Furthermore, how do they find value in them? Find out in our latest thought paper.
FIN DING VALU E
IN E M E RG ING
DECEMBER / 2014
ith so many emerging technologies
coming to market surrounded by hype,
how are brands supposed to determine
which ones are worth investing energy in?
The answer, it turns out, lies not in
the technology itself, but rather in
the people who use it.
Consumer demand and adoption
behaviour is what drives
technologies from the niche
stage to mass adoption.
So for brands and businesses
to know which emerging
technologies to invest in, they
must first understand the rate of
accelerating change and how
society adopts technology.
THE DIGITAL LANDSCAPE IS EVOLVING
AT AN ALMOST INCOMPREHENSIBLE
RATE OF CHANGE.
Over 500 million tweets per day
posted per day
1.2 billion Facebook monthly
1.9 billion Google searches per
100 hours of YouTube
videos are added per minute
6 billion hours of YouTube
videos are viewed per month
To add to this confusion, the technology by which the digital landscape is delivered is
also evolving at a rapid rate, often leaving brands struggling to decide which emerging
technology to embrace. Ultimately, for brands to make this decision, they must first
understand how and why certain technologies are adopted by society.
To decide which technology to
embrace... brands must understand
how and why certain technologies
Gartner’s Hype Cycle is well
known in the technology sector,
and helps convey a basic pattern
of the mass market’s adoption of
emerging technologies. Although
it has occasionally been criticized
as a simplification of a much more
nuanced trend, it demonstrates
clearly that while many emerging
technologies show promise out
of the gate, there are still many
hurdles to overcome before
they are widely embraced by
Gartner’s Hype Cycle
SLOPE OF ENLIGHTENMENT
PLATEAU OF PRODUCTIVITY
Gartner’s Hype Cycle
while many emerging
promise, there are
many hurdles to
overcome before they
are widely embraced
by mainstream markets.
The cycle, or pattern, begins with a technology
trigger. A breakthrough in any given
technological field – whether voice detection,
flight, artificial intelligence, etc. – sets off a
buzz within the tech community.
Typically there are no working prototypes yet,
though there are enough proof-of-concepts to
create a surge of media interest.
Plateau of Productivity
A technology that has begun to see widespread
adoption – particularly in mainstream markets
– can be said to have reached the plateau of
productivity. Mainstream society has accepted
it, and even adapted behaviours to include it.
Smartphones are a perfect example of a technology
that has reached the plateau of productivity, a
technology for which society was
willing to change its behaviour as the
benefits outweigh the behavioural and
monetary investments. Society has seen
a massive change in consumer behavior which is a
massive cultural shift given the iPhone was released
in Australia only 6 years ago (July 2008) and 7 years
ago in the US (June 2007).
Peak of Inflated Expectations
Increased funding through the Internet –
including crowd-sourcing platforms like
Kickstarter* – has enabled an overwhelming
number of emerging technologies to come
to market in the form of early
iterations, which often ride on the initial
media hype of the technology trigger. This has
helped fuel increased hype around the ‘Peak
of Inflated Expectations.’
Slope of Enlightenment
After experiencing an initial wave of setback in the
‘Trough of Disillusionment,’ emerging technologies
can either fade away entirely or endure as more
evolved second or third generation products.
As these products demonstrate capabilities that
their first generation iterations lacked, interest
may begin to rekindle as consumers/
investors see new reason for their existence.
These technologies have reached the ‘Slope of
Enlightenment,’ where the benefits of their
new offering are weighed against the
societal/behavioural change necessary
for the technology to be widely adopted.
Since launching only 5
years ago, Kickstarter
has seen over 7 million
backers pledge over
$1.3 billion, successfully
funding over 70K
projects. (That's a lot of
Trough of Disillusionment
Following the hype of the ‘Peak of Inflated
Expectations,’ early iterations of emerging
technologies often fail to meet the
initial excitement. They subsequently lose
momentum and head towards the ‘Trough of
Disillusionment.’ This is where lack of consumer
demand kills off innovations, naturally
separating the technologies that are developed for
the sake of technology versus those that have the
potential to provide real consumer
Focus on technologies that have reached
the ‘Slope of Enlightenment’
Define how people derive
benefit from the technology
While the Gartner Cycle is not exact science, brands can use it in a number of scenarios to gauge
whether or not they should embrace – or at least experiment with – an emerging technology.
Following these steps can help simplify the decision:
Whereas marketing used to be about “the
process of communicating the value of a product
or service to customers for the purpose of selling
that product or service,” people now demand
much more from brands in exchange for their
So marketers now need to “understand what their
customers will value to evolve communications,
experiences and products or services, for the
purpose of selling that product or service.”
For instance, if a car company is seeing declining sales among consumers, but notices an uptake of
sales among Uber drivers, then perhaps it is worth considering a partnership with Uber.
What are the current
business challenges that
the brand is facing?
How are consumers
with the brand?
Could this technology add
value to the way that consumer
interact with the brand?
Ultimately, if the technology can help solve a specific business problem or provide
customers more value, then it is likely one that is worth investigating further.
At its core,
to service needs.
Employing technology for the sake of employing technology is no different than making technology
for the sake of making it. It doesn’t work. At its core, technology exists to service needs, and if a brand
is seeking to use an emerging technology, it must first define the precise way in which its doing so will
benefit its target audience.
It is imperative for brands to get an in-depth understanding of their specific
consumers and what value their customers will want from them.
Create an experience with the technology to
provide more value – quickly!
All companies have short-term imperatives that need to be met; unfortunately, these can hold brands
back from focusing on the bigger, longer-term benefits that emerging technology can provide. So it
is important to have innovation work streams separated from daily activity to avoid de-prioritisation.
Separating these work streams allows focus and ensures they come to fruition in a
timely manner, before competitors take advantage of the same technology.
Failure to do this can have devastating effects on companies – think back to Kodak and Blockbuster.
Both Kodak and Blockbuster were massive global companies that missed opportunities in emerging
technologies, and are veritable proof that constant evaluation of emerging technology is not just a fun
side project, but should be a priority.
Emerging technology is effectively a new canvas, and the process of filling that canvas
in a way that engages the widest possible audience is a work of creativity.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, or even use the technology in a way in which it was not
intended to be used.
Evaluation of emerging technology
is not just a fun side project, but is
imperative to remain competitive.
For instance, ANR BBDO and Stopp partnered with Swedish Internet provider Ume.net to demonstrate
the real-time effects of Internet lag using an Oculus Rift. They strapped users into an immersive Oculus
experience that delayed sight and sound, and then asked them to participate in physical activities like
exercise classes and cooking. The resulting video demonstrated the importance of a strong Internet
connection and a video that quickly went viral.
These are some technologies that have made it past the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’ and are beginning
to see successful adoption by brands who are using them to provide value to customers.
After years of our wondering whether something like Google Glass could ever catch on, wearables have
coasted past the ‘Trough of Disillusionment.’ But they have done so in a different form. Glasses proved
too invasive (and unsightly, at least for now) but wearable tech snuck into the mainstream market via
wrist-wear and smart garments. An explosion of connected wrist wear – cemented by Apple’s
announcement of its Watch product – has ridden a wave of personal health and fitness
enthusiasm to arrive on the mainstream market. Microchips have also enabled the creation of
connected clothing, which can be worn in a way that is not invasive and collects valuable health data.
Foxtel — Alert Shirt
Australian Rules Football is a national
obsession. As a result, fans already get great
coverage of football games on free-to-air TV.
Foxtel and CHE Proximity set out to convince
them that subscribing to pay TV would get
them closer to their team by creating an
experience that justified the price.
Alert Shirt changed the rules of television
broadcast, turning professional sport
from something you watch to something
you’re physically involved in. Beyond the
emotional, fans can now connect to
the physical sensations of their team.
These include: a thumping heart whenever
the game is on the line, the shock of a big
hit when players collide, the sinking feeling
of every costly mistake, lungs burning every
time your team puts in a hard effort, and a
rush of blood when your team is on the up.
A great example of understanding that
customers want to get closer to the
sport they watch and developing wearable
technology that allows them to do so, giving
Foxtel an avenue to provide more value to
One of the most fascinating elements of wearable technology is that it
may spawn a new era of communication: digital touch.
In other words, two people wearing wearable technology can effectively communicate
with each other via the touch sensors of the devices, which is something Apple went
so far as to trademark as Digital Touch in their announcement of Apple Watch. How
this particular component of wearable tech will manifest itself with greater consumer
adoption has yet to be seen, but it is one of the first aspects of wearable technology
that brands have begun to explore, if only to provide entertainment value as opposed
to strict utility.
INTERNET OF THINGS
The rising popularity and acceptance of wearable technology can be said to be part
of a larger trend towards connected objects in general, a trend known as the Internet
of Things. Put simply, the Internet of Things is a term used to describe objects that are
smart, or connected to the Internet, and can include objects as seemingly mundane as
light-bulbs, scales, refrigerators, and thermostats. The GE Link lightbulb, for instance, is
a smart bulb that can be controlled via smartphone.
Gatorade — From the Lab to the Pitch
Gatorade was one of the first brands to tap into the marketing potential of connected devices,
partnering with Smart Design to create a smart and connected water bottle for the Brazilian football
team during the 2014 World Cup. Each player is tested in a lab to determine their personal hydration
profile and the optimum formula of Gatorade for their body based on their personal requirements.
The water bottle contains a microchip that detects hydration levels of players and passes
the information back to coaching staff. This information combined with the players profile then
helps players be at an optimum level of hydration in order to perform at their best.
Internet of Things is a term used
to describe objects that are smart,
or connected to the Internet
Many marketers have wondered what the place is for brands in the Internet of Things,
For instance, what is the place for a CPG brand, or a shoe brand, in connected devices? What these
marketers need to consider, however, is how various connected devices may end up connecting with
each other through a consumer’s smartphone. Imagine, for instance, a partnership in which a CPG
brand’s app collects weight loss data from a smart scale and exercise data from a smart shoe or
watch, and through a smart refrigerator’s instant ordering capabilities is able to reward consumers
for reaching weight loss goals, all the while tweeting to the brand’s Twitter handles for each stage of
Now is the time for brands
to at least experiment with a
communications strategy for
connected device and forge
Alcohol brands might take particular interest in a Kickstarter project called Monsieur,
a smart robotic bartender machine that mixes perfect cocktails. It can recommend
drinks and communicate via smartphone, meaning that a liquor brand could ostensibly
partner with clubs and bars to ensure that the Monsieur recommends their brand with
their own signature cocktails.
The Internet of Things is still at an early stage, but with major manufacturers producing better and
better smart devices, and with smartphones – and even watches – acting as a hub, now is the time
for brands to at least experiment with a communications strategy for connected device and forge
3D Printers are becoming more accessible with the entry point at just a few hundred dollars.
Printing 3D objects provide provides the ability for personalised and
customised products to be produced in an efficient manner. For brands, the
possibilities that 3D printing creates for custom product promotions are practically limitless.
Taken one step further, 3D printers have also been used for installations.
World Animal Protection — Elephant sized petition
World Animal Protection, in partnership with FHV BBDO, has combined 5 Ultimaker 3D printers
to print a life-size elephant at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to launch a campaign to end
elephant cruelty. Each time someone pledges to never ride an elephant (again,) a name is added to
the petition and a new piece of the elephant is printed. Turning the usual intangible act of signing
a petition into something where people can visualise the impact in a more tangible way.
The possibilites that 3D
printing creates for custom
product promotions are
Emerging technologies can present endless temptation and occasional
bewilderment to marketers. But if approached methodically, they can be used
to solve both business and communications problems.
Following these key guidelines can help brands make the most impact with
their exploration of emerging tech.
Focus on the technology that has made it to the
Slope of Enlightenment on Gartner’s Hype Cycle.
Consider how the technology can be used to solve
a specific business problem and/or provide value
to the consumer.
Be creative in the execution to most effectively
leverage emerging technology. And do it before
your competitors do.
GROUP ACCOUNT DIRECTOR, CHE PROXIMITY