With the digital landscape constantly changing, the pressure brands are under to create exceptional customer experiences and achieve cut through is immense. It’s exciting times for anyone working in the digital industry, but with so much innovation in the marketplace, understanding what’s out there and how to use it is crucial. Understanding cutting-edge technology and having the ability to weave this into a highly creative and strategic plan should be fundamental to any digital agency of the future.  

At the recent Adobe Summit in Las Vegas, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella discussed the three layers of the digital landscape: technology, artificial intelligence and experiences. The seamless integration of these three layers can be a minefield, so there are key benefits of working with a full-service digitally native agency who can take a 360 approach to challenge infrastructure, innovate, create and optimise, and unlock the power of a brand’s data (Nadella’s words, not mine, but I wholeheartedly agree).

Leveraging the power of technology to enhance customer engagement and experience can create lasting relationships between consumer and brand, and yes, this is a challenge, but it’s also rewarding. Many companies aren’t using the right tools to their full advantage, and this is often due to them simply not understanding what’s out there and how to use it.

When implemented in the right way, augmented reality (AR) can be a fantastically engaging tool. Just look at the AR campaign run by Foot Locker towards the end of last year in the US. The shoe retailer updated its iOS mobile app with AR features that guided users to geo-targeted locations throughout Los Angeles, leading them to Nike’s limited-edition LeBron 16 King trainers. This was the perfect way to engage their tech-savvy target market, and by using a mobile-first strategy, combats its lessening street retail presence.

I believe we’ve only just scratched the surface in terms of what AR, virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) technology offers brands, and what they can achieve through using extended reality to merge the on and offline worlds together. This is when using data to create a bespoke profile for each of your audiences is vital; you need to make sure you use tailored content to ensure a bespoke approach. Customer experiences are built on interactions, and interactions generate data.  

To solve these challenges, brands need to rely on a new era agency, one that understands the technology joining our landscape, and who can balance these online and offline worlds. The ability to combine creative ideas with a strategic approach and high-quality technical delivery is essential. Bringing digital concepts to life, without causing confusion or alienating customers is a challenge in itself, and only something an experienced full-digital agency is capable of.

I’m a firm believer in the future of MR in particular, and that it will dominate the digital world we live in, within the next 10 years. Becoming a portal in your smart glasses or lenses, you’ll be able to use it to find anything and everything you need. Combining the best of both AR and VR, brands will be able to integrate MR into a huge portion of their business, from customer support to advertising and marketing campaigns.

The strategic and educated approach to this needs to come from the top down, and CEOs must understand the value of personalising customer experiences, without becoming intrusive. You can drive revenue with great customer experiences by maximising the value of technology and differentiating with digital. Giving customers what they want starts with understanding, so linking data and analytics to actions of personalisation should help support strong return on investment.

However what we should never lose sight of is that customers are still people, whether the highest spec of technology is being implemented into a B2B or B2C campaign. B2E should be the new way of thinking; business to everything and everyone. The magic happens when you take the purpose of the individual, and align it with the purpose of a company.

By Kelly Allison, founder and managing director of digital communications and brand experience agency KVA

Originally published Net Imperative | 10 April 2019

Photo by The Roaming Platypus on Unsplash