A visit to Disney World with the new Magic Bands prompted the purchase of a smart watch - here are five reasons wearables are here to stay.
My real first experience with wearable technology was about six months ago when I embarked on a quick family vacation to Disney World. After booking our hotel we were lucky enough to be invited to participate in Disney's new MyMagic program. It's a $1 billion investment in wearable technology that will allow Disney unprecedented access to data about participants - including where they are, what they buy, and ultimately what they may do next.
Armed with our Magic Bands, my family and I worked the park for nearly a week using it for everything from opening our hotel room door to securing our Fast Passes to even placing our order for food at the Be Our Guest restaurant kiosk. In fact, after doing so, we were told to sit anywhere in the massive dining hall and our food would be ready and delivered to our table in 15 minutes. Sure enough the order was brought directly to our table with the kids asking, "How did they find us?" To which I responded, "Well, it's magic!" OK, more like the Magic Bands, to be precise, and the radio frequency identification chips that were inside them that allowed the server to find our exact location within the large dining hall.
While there are some critics of the technology calling it an invasion of privacy and "creepy," I can only speak for myself and the reactions and impact the technology had on my family's last experience at Disney by saying - WOW, sign us up. In an article in Business Week last month, Disney's Tom Staggs, who is head of the company's parks and resort unit, summarized it best, saying the goal of the MyMagic program was to create what he calls "a more immersive, more seamless, and more personal experience." And that is exactly what I felt it did in spades. It ultimately created a whole new and differentiated Disney experience for me and my family.
In fact, it would be hard to do Disney again without it. As someone in the industry, my wheels started turning by day two as I looked to see how an already amazing experience could potentially be enhanced further. What if the Magic Band had an interface like a smart watch that allowed me to get an offer after coming off the Toy Story ride and into the Toy Story store as my daughter looked at the Jessie doll? What if I could share and post to a social media site from my Magic Band? The promise of wearable technology is an exciting topic and will, without a doubt, redefine the interactions we all have with the brands we love and - more importantly - trust. That includes trusting those brands with our data, because they use it to improve our experience and create value.
My experience was so inspiring that upon my return home I began researching smart watches and placed my order for a brand new Pebble Steel Smart Watch to further immerse myself in the technology. After waiting more than a month for my new watch, I finally received it and began exploring. Realizing that this is still new, here are the five things I like best about my smart watch.
Wearables are here to stay and will only get more interesting as innovative brands like Disney, the NFL, GM, and other "infotainment" brands leverage wearables and mobile technology to redefine how we interact with their brands. These bold brands will look to create new experiences and value to further differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Retailers, too, will increasingly get into the act as fast followers as they look to redefine the in-store shopping experience. However, the real growth in wearables will be driven (at least initially) by the fitness, wellness, and health care segments.
For many of these segments, smart watches will be the device of choice as they help monitor us, collect and display data, and provide us valuable real-time updates to help make us smarter, more productive, and connected to the people that matter and care for us. We are at the beginning of what promises to be one of the most amazing technology capabilities we have seen in some time - stay tuned.
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Michael Della Penna is a seasoned marketing professional with a long, proven track record of launching successful marketing, branding, and sales strategies for leading public and private companies. Most recently, Michael was the senior vice president of Emerging Channels at Responsys. His responsibilities included spearheading the overall strategic direction, partnerships, and solution offering across key emerging channels including social, mobile, and display for the company. Prior to Responsys, Michael founded SuiteDialog and Conversa Marketing, a full-service email and social CRM agency that helped brands ignite conversations and cultivate relationships with customers across the social web. Conversa Marketing, was acquired by StrongMail Systems in 2010. Before branching out on his own, Michael served as chief marketing officer for Epsilon, a leading provider of multichannel, data-driven marketing services. Michael's other key marketing leadership roles include CMO at Bigfoot Interactive, vice president of strategic development at CNET Networks, Inc., and vice president of marketing at ZDNet. Michael received a B.B.A. and an M.B.A. from Hofstra University.
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