Seven ways to future-proof your digital strategy

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Nurcin Erdogan Loeffler, head of strategy and innovation, Vizeum China, outlines the seven ways businesses can future proof their digital strategies.

With more than two years in China and a background in strategy, Nurcin Erdogan Loeffler shared her thoughts on future proofing a business strategy with the audience at ClickZ Live Shanghai.

While the future for many of us is seen as something unpredictable and scary, the definition on Wikipedia is quite simple: “The Future” is the time after the present.

But what does that actually mean?

“When we look at the reality, especially in our industry, the future is now. We are already used to seeing science fiction as science fact,” says Erdogan Loeffler.

To understand the three stages of time, Erdogan Loeffler quoted from Steve Case’s book: The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future.

The first wave: The first wave is the past. This was a period of infrastructure building to bring the technology to the people. Think Microsoft and Cisco.

The second wave: The second wave is the present. This is about the software. “It’s about all those smart kids in their parents garages with a good idea that changed the world. It was about being agile, disruptive and empowering,” says Erdogan Loeffler.

The third wave: The third wave is the future which is already here. This will not be disruptive but constructive, says Erdogan Loeffler. “It will be different in terms of changing the world in terms of partnering up and growing further with existing partners.”

The futurist Gerd Leonhard, sums up how “change” itself will be disrupted in the future in this short video.

Digital transformation: are you ready for exponential change? Futurist Gerd Leonhard, TFAStudios

Here are Erdogan Loeffler’s seven tips for future proofing your business strategy.

1. Don’t have a digital strategy

It is very important at this moment in time where we are speaking about where we are in the future, that having a digital strategy doesn’t make sense, says Erdogan Loeffler.

Having a business strategy that is built for the digital world on the other hand, is the future.

At the World Economic Forum in 2015, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google (now Alphabet), caused a stir when he said the Internet would disappear.

“What he really meant is the Internet will become like air. The Internet will become everywhere. Today, when we talk about digital, we see it as medium, as a part of our marketing mix. But tomorrow, CEOs will become the head of digital… or vice versa,” says Erdogan Loeffler.

Once we start to accept that digital will be everywhere we will start to understand why it is not relevant to have a digital strategy.

“Having a digital strategy will be as absurd as having an electricity-enabled fridge. The Internet of things is almost over. The Internet of everywhere will become a reality very soon,” she adds.

2. People and their needs FIRST

Another of Erdogan Loeffler’s favorite writers is James Harris and his book, Think More Analogue, Be More Digital. In it, Harris underlines five global human needs that drive all digital behavior.

These are:

  • Distraction
  • Learning
  • Recognition
  • Relationships
  • Progression

To confirm whether China fits into this global stereotype, Vizeum looked at annual Chinese consumer research involving the surveying of 70,000 people across the country. And the China results are not so dissimilar to global digital behavior.

The top three reasons for spending time online for Chinese consumers are:

  • They want to be kept updated with trends (64.4%)
  • It’s a good source of learning (61%)
  • It puts me in a good mood (60%)

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*Source: Vizeum / CCS 2015

The big difference however is that the sophisticated Chinese consumer has one key motivation – to stand out.

  • Almost 50% of Chinese adults what to stand out as an individual.
  • Almost 50% like to buy products that stand out as being different.
  • 80% of millennials believe that to be successful it is worth expressing my true opinion in front of others.

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“What is important for future proofing your business strategy, is that behind every device is a human. They don’t really remember what you are saying or what you are doing. They only remember how you make them feel. So emotional connections will always mean a better return on investment,” says Erdogan Loeffler.

3. Turn data into actionable insights

Data is like a jungle – it’s dangerous and it’s so big you can get lost in it, says Erdogan Loeffler.

“And unless you know your route and which animal you want to hunt, you have to be very careful or data can hunt you.”

Data is only meaningful when it can really be used and leveraged as an actionable human insight, she says.

Here’s a case study of how Vizeum worked with Marina Bay Sands to close the loop within the digital network.

Marina Bay Sands / Vizeum APAC

4. Content is the king

In 1996, Bill Gates first used the slogan, “Content is King” and it’s a strategy still being used today – 20 years on.

Erdogan Loeffler says the global rule for creating content that works is content that:

  • Lets you love
  • Makes you cry
  • Stimulates some desire

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*Source: Vizeum

Here’s how SK-II’s emotional “left over women” campaign brought many viewers in China to tears.

Good content, inspired by good insight always works, she says.

5. Context is the queen

Every king needs a queen.

“It’s not enough to have great content – it needs to deliver the right message to the right person, in the right medium at the right place and the right time – and this is what we call context marketing,” says Erdogan Loeffler.

With the average attention span of a person now at about three seconds, advertisers have a small window to ‘catch’ the consumer. Therefore, it’s very important to have the right content mixed and married with the right context, she says.

Here’s how Vizeum worked with BBC Earth to launch in Asia, using behavioral and contextual data.

BBC Earth / Vizeum APAC

6. Watch your body language

A large part of human interaction is non-verbal – 60%. And it’s no different for brand marketing, says Erdogan Loeffler.

“As brands we are saying we are amazing but behind that are you lying? Through social media the consumer can really understand a brand’s body language.”

She cites KLM’s brilliant use of ‘body language’ through its digital customer service channels.

“KLM is openly talking. It creates a profile beyond the brand, being helpful, being reactive. Ask them a question and within one hour they will reply.”

(Read a case study on KLM’s use of WeChat for customer service in China here.)

7. Close the loop (or somebody else will close it for you)

In China, ecommerce, social commerce, m-commerce and brand commerce are well established.

Path to purchase used to be quite simple whereas now it’s quite complicated, says Erdogan Loeffler. Gone are the days of a direct route, today’s marketer never knows when the transaction will happen so it’s important that every interaction has the potential to close the loop.

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Concluding her presentation, Erdogan Loeffler left the audience with one final piece of advice.

“I believe all of theses points are very important but one key takeaway is to remember that people are not cookies or devices or audiences or consumers. People are people.”

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*Featured image: Google search

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