Happy New Year! As I write this, I am packing to go to Las Vegas for CES, where most high-tech companies unveil their new products for the year. Already, many have started their press conferences early. It's clear that this year will center on a major theme: more convergence. Major companies are showing more tablets, smarter phones, Internet apps on TVs, Internet in more vehicles (cars, planes), and more form factors designed to make the Internet more accessible and our user experiences more convergent. Another big thing this year is passive display 3Ds, which will finally bring 3D TVs to the masses. Laptop, netbook, and desktop manufacturers are showing their new wares as well. 3D monitors, always-connected computers, and lighter form factors lead the way for these guys.
Instead of simply running out and creating applications or user experiences for all theses devices, do some basic use cases and see if any of these new devices are interesting to your customers. Any good multi-channel strategy should include multi-channel use cases. As part of our consulting practice, we dedicate separate time to do a multi-channel workshop, which includes taking the personas we have created and seeing how they operate across channels.
For example, with one recent client, their personas were divided up into a few different types of women. They ranged from Wendy, the fashion wannabe, who is always on her cell phone, texting her friends, and documenting everything for Facebook, to Emily, the female executive, who has assistants doing most things for her but needs constant access to e-mail and any other information that lets her get on with her day efficiently.
There were many more personas, but even looking at these two will give us some insight into how multi-channel convergence might appear in their lives. Wendy the wannabe is 100 percent connected 100 percent of the time. She has a smartphone as her primary entrée to the Internet. It's a fashionable and trendy smartphone and makes texting, e-mail, comparison shopping, and social networking easy. She's a group shopper (even when she is alone) and uses her phone to connect with her friends during the buying process. She doesn't have a lot of money, so most likely would not have a fancy TV that is either Internet connected or 3D, nor would she have any in-vehicle Internet access, as she has a hand-me-down car from her parents (that she'd never drive anywhere her friends could see her).
Emily leads a much different life. She has a mobile device for e-mail, texts, and phone calls. The only number she ever calls is her assistant's. Otherwise she is mainly receiving calls. For the train and the airplane she has an iPad (with keyboard) or another lightweight computer that she can carry on without breaking her back. Her car has an in-dash communications center (GPS, Internet, etc.). All these Internet access points let her respond immediately to any situation, and enable her day to run smoothly. Her assistant can text an address to her GPS unit so she's ready to go the minute she steps in her car. At the office, she might have a 3D monitor so she can see prototypes in 3D for her business. She might be a fashion designer, an architect, or a manufacturer. Approving prototypes in 3D gives her the ability to really get a sense of the size and depth of the object, and lets her easily spot flaws or areas that need to be changed.
These two women are extremely different, but have one thing in common: they lead a convergent lifestyle in which multiple devices all enable them to get specific tasks done. Which of these tasks will be made easier by new devices being shown at CES? Which devices overlap existing ones, making them non-essential?
The answers lay deep within your personas and their multi-channel user experiences. If you have created robust personas, it should be somewhat clear which new devices will be interesting to them. New phones with enhanced video and sharing capabilities (especially for video chat and communal shopping): perfect for Wendy, and totally uninteresting for Emily. The ability to send and receive e-mails by speaking them aloud (and listening to them being read) while in the car: perfect for Emily.
Enjoy the next few weeks, as they bring with them news about all the new gadgets coming out. Then go through your personas and see which of them are practical extensions to your personas. Which of them make specific use cases easier to accomplish? Which get in the way and are merely distracting? Then you should be able to create a multi-channel roadmap that takes into account this year's theme of more convergence.
Comments, thoughts? Leave them below.
Until next time,
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Jack Aaronson, CEO of The Aaronson Group and corporate lecturer, is a sought-after expert on enhanced user experiences, customer conversion, retention, and loyalty. If only a small percentage of people who arrive at your home page transact with your company (and even fewer return to transact again), Jack and his company can help. He also publishes a newsletter about multichannel marketing, personalization, user experience, and other related issues. He has keynoted most major marketing conferences around the world and regularly speaks at Shop.org and other major industry shows. You can learn more about Jack through his LinkedIn profile.
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