Accenture notes that ‘…digital offers a once in a generation opportunity to embrace the future and gain sustainable advantage in the marketplace by shifting to new, more sustainable economic models, while simultaneously stepping up to better satisfy real consumer demand[i].’ This is the crux of where branding strategies need to shift to. Effective digital transformation should include tools and processes display and enable transparency. This is a powerful point from which to launch predictive analytics and other potentially powerful consumer-centric strategies. Data will enable ever greater micro segmentation of customers, increased personalisation for customers and a more effective search for new customers.
As a result of the emerging digital revolution, considerable business model change is underway. In 2013, 14 of the top 30 global brands by market capitalization were platform-oriented companies[ii]. MIT Sloan notes that as these companies can get closer to their customers, they often develop ‘…a competitive advantage based on new insights into pricing, network effects, supply chains, and strategy.’ In short, branding is moving from simply selling a product and towards ‘…adding value and engaging the customer[iii].’
Data, its analysis and applied insights should stand at the centre of future ecosystem applications, since companies that succeed in both demonstrating trust and applying data driven yield productivity rates and profitability that are 5-to-6 percent higher than those of their peers. Furthermore, McKinsey research shows that those that embed data in the DNA of their marketing and sales decisions improve their marketing return on investment (MROI) by 15-to-20 percent[iv]. This is, of course, nothing new for many individual components of the travel industry. Travel retailers, hotels and airlines form some leading examples of how to run data driven campaigns. The challenge remains however, for the industry to create common platforms that provide single points of access for consumers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) offers one possible medium for both unifying disparate standards (although it will require a common standard/platform itself) and gathering exponentially more data, and more valuable data. Thanks to IoT growth, the turn of the decade could also see consumers interacting with over 150 sensor-enabled devices every day, with 60 percent of device interactions proving ‘passive’, allowing people to use information from intelligent systems and machine learning[v].
It is only through more granular data, ostensibly including IoT sources, and providing consumers with easy to use and manage technology interfaces that personalised service will ever be realised. This presents the great possibility of crafting seamless travel propositions, new value for consumers as well as industry stakeholders; the time to start developing platforms that span these stakeholders is now.