The Power of Real-Time, Predictive Decisioning in a Mobile-First World

Last month we talked about the essential elements in building the ultimate data cloud, including the role identity management and key data sources play in enabling a brand to understand its customers. There is no doubt smart data is the bridge to building relevant and strong relationships with customers. But if smart data is the bridge, real-time decisioning is the vehicle that enables a brand to reach those customers at their precise moment of need, wherever they are, and on whatever device they are on.

While large marketing cloud behemoths gobble up point solutions to stitch together data sources and multi-channel execution capabilities to serve the new reality, they remain hampered by complex and slow integrations and legacy backend systems that simply can’t process, normalize, and execute in real-time. In the best case scenario the result is latency, which is the ultimate killer of performance, or pre-processed category-based segmented campaign triggers. While some progress is better than no progress, we need to do better. Today’s reality demands it!

Look, the marketing world is rapidly evolving due to changing consumer behavior and the shift to mobile. For brands this means embracing the “mobile mind shift,” a phrase first coined by Forrester Research in 2013. The “mobile mind shift” for brands is the realization and acceptance that we all live in a world where the consumer expectation is that they can get whatever they want immediately and at their precise moment of need. In fact, “Mobile moments are the next battle to win, serve, and retain customers,” according to Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research. To do that, brands must not only rethink the customer journey to find those moments, but invest in the technologies and capabilities needed to respond uniquely to each individual’s needs.

Done correctly, brands have the opportunity to build great experiences, strengthen loyalties, differentiate their brand, and drive lifetime value. So what’s required? How will brands hit the “Insane Mode” when it comes to building the marketing and real-time response capabilities required to respond to millions of individual mobile moments? Here are some of the specs required:

  1. The New Software Stack: Start-ups have what I call “last mover advantage.” The technology exists today to collect, process, and normalize multi-channel signals in seconds – yes, big data. The emergence of cloud solutions has allowed critical data elements to be freed from legacy databases and have provided marketers greater freedoms to get at the data for the creation and execution of hyper-relevant messaging faster and more inexpensively. However, it’s not enough to free the data – additional innovation and software within the cloud matters. It’s all about the software stack. Next-generation systems leverage the latest database technologies. These databases allow greater flexibility, scalability, performance, and stability at a fraction of the cost of a traditional database. In addition to the latest database technologies, predictive decisioning and machine learning algorithms are being built that leverage the latest programing languages and in memory processing systems to make sense of the data. By utilizing these technologies, brands can now process and normalize data to create smart data from big data.
  2. Signal Intelligence: The Internet of Things is perhaps the most significant development our world has seen. The rapid growth and accelerating volume in which consumers are interacting with devices connected to the Internet – be it a phone, tablet, gaming device, TVs, watches, cars, and home security and comfort solutions (i.e. Nest) – has generated critical interactions and intelligence about a consumer’s behaviors and preferences. Understanding these signals and being able to respond to them is the next frontier. With the help of these technologies, marketers will develop new sense and respond capabilities, which will allow them to not only recognize critical “mobile moments” but to create better, more relevant experiences for each and every consumer based on new data inputs such as linger time.
  3. Real-Time Marketing Automation: As the mobile moment opportunity arises, so, too, will next-generation platforms. These platforms will enable brands to not only recognize mobile moments and opportunities, but to sense and respond to those moments with hyper-relevant messaging in a mobile-first world. We will see an emergence of mobile-first platforms that not only take in massive data, but can do predictive decisioning and marketing automation for brands throughout the customer journey and across devices. These new platforms will be flexible and facilitate seamless data flows across channels and providers. To do that, they will support real-time data transfers so that brands can orchestrate and do multi-channel messaging and coordination that will lead to better experiences and results.
  4. Attribution and ROI: The proof is in the pudding. The final frontier will be customer journey reporting including message flows, interactions, and conversions tracked across mediums and unique customer journeys. Mobile purchases will be tracked and combined to traditional POS systems and databases to better understand the customer path to purchase. Advancements in mobile payment solutions, identity management, and data integrations, will help marketers further accelerate investments into mobile-first technologies and integrations.

Over the last 25 years I have witnessed, and been privileged enough to participate in, the growth and emergence of several technology waves – including the Internet, email marketing, and social marketing. Nothing has been more exciting or will be as big as we are about to witness with mobile. The Internet of Things and mobile-first is not a channel – it is the connector to create truly personalized customer experiences that will drive relationships and results for decades to come.

‘Til next time.

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