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Maximize the value of your digital experiences

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Webinar October 18, 2015
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Maximize the value of your digital experiences

Digital is no longer just about technology and content – it is about the experience. To be effective, digital experiences should immerse the consumer to create a meaningful moment. This immersive experience is the moment that consumers will share, which in turn will increase awareness, loyalty and affinity for your brand.

So how do you achieve maximum value from digital place-based media? Join digital media veteran Lyle Bunn as he discusses emerging trends and insights that will advance your customer engagement programs.

In this session you will learn:

  • Critical success factors to maximize the value of digital media
  • Key considerations on how to exploit this enabling media
  • Who is using this technology well
  • How to get it right while mitigating risk

This webinar aired on October 18, 2015.

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Webinar Transcript

Marcos: Hi, my name is Marcos Terenzio, I’m the Director of Digital Experience at Shikatani Lacroix, and today I’d like to welcome you to the Design Lounge. It’s my pleasure to have the digital media veteran Lyle Bunn join us today to discuss emerging trends in immersive digital experiences. Welcome, Lyle. Give us some background on your involvement in the digital media industry.

Lyle: What a world we’ve come to know in the last 50 years, 40 of which I have been involved with information and telecommunication technologies, and the important thing about this is not the technology though it is exciting and it drives the economy in many cases. But it’s an invented industry, technology is an invented industry that serves its end users.

The important thing about technology is the enabling value, and so in the post-9/11 economy, when things were really upside-down, and we were really uncertain about where our economy was gonna go, I stepped back and I did a scan of the enabling technologies that were on the engineering workbench, were coming to commercialization, and I noticed two dots. One was an extraordinary capacity for flat panel production that was coming on board and the other was a lot of pressure on communication spending and when you connect these dots with some media management software, you end up with electronic display systems. And that was the genesis of my focus, which is now almost a 14-year focus, eight days a week, 24 hours a day, on digital place-based media and the way that it can empower organizations.

Marcos: How do you feel retailers can maximize the benefit of digital technology?

Lyle: We often lose sight, in the size of our organizations, of the fact that the core objective of every worker in an enterprise is to improve the valuation of that organization. Be it a bank, or a retailer, or a food service organization, a stadium, a campus, a hospital, the important role of every staff member, every manager, is to improve the valuation of that enterprise. And part of that enterprise valuation is brand equity. So it really is about perpetuating and sustaining and accelerating the value of the brand, the brand equity.

Marcos: What are some of the trends that you notice in the digital media industry today?

Lyle: The number one answer to that is higher resolution display. Most consumers now have high-resolution display on a flat panel in their homes, they’re used to it. They’re used to seeing it. And so those higher resolutions and refresh rates, even getting into 3D, really allow a more expressive presentation of the brand. They allow content to be presented at a quality level that’s equal to its creation. This is really the first time in history that we’ve been able to present media at the level of quality with which it is created. So this is the number one trend.

Secondly, given that we’ve got a number of screen media applications, the number two important area of growth and acceleration, and it’s in some cases not even incremental, it really is breakthrough in terms of the engineering innovations. And that is the capacity to run this messaging capability off of a single content management tool, that can be messaging in a play loop, that can be dynamic, that can be interactive, and can interface with other devices. Not just flat panels but projection, tablet, mobile obviously, and other devices that we see coming along, wearables, apparel, even. And so the second major change related to what’s going on in terms of the technology trend is an appreciation of the need to manage the experience relative to the media.

The third thing that’s going on, it’s quite important, is a foundation of future success. The third thing that’s going on is better integration into the environment. So where we have modern architectures, or we have historical architectures, where we want to preserve the contribution of equity that those architectures make, the ability to integrate the media into those environments so that it enhances that environment, improving its attractiveness as a destination and improving the ability to sustain dwell-time in a way that’s appreciated by the patrons who have visited there. After all, we want our places to be productive because they are a destination, and because we like to be there.

Marcos: We’re hearing a lot of chatter about gamification and augmented reality these days. Do you see these playing a role in immersive experiences?

Lyle: Making the interaction with media fun, one of the distinguishing characteristics of organizations in their leadership is that they train and develop people. And so as customers, as patrons, as visitors, as travelers, we like to be trained and develop. And we, all of us with children, know that gamification is a great way to instill information and inspire learning. So, lots going on in the gamification area, we’ll also see big developments continuing in the area of augmented reality where the addition of information or visuals significantly changes that engagement experience.

At MIT, about 20 years ago, they used to play a game, and the game was, “What if you added a microchip to something, what would you get?” Well, if you add a microchip to a slide rule, what you get is a handheld calculator. So now we’re at this point, we’re at a very important inflection point, where we’re asking ourselves the question, “If we were to add media to this on-location experience, how would that change everything?”

Marcos: Why is digital media an important component of the at-location experience?

Lyle: Why is digital media important, from the standpoint of the on-location experience, the engagement experience? It’s because we want that location experience to be life-changing. When things are life-changing, they’re memorable, and we share them with friends. It becomes our own social media that’s now as old as humanity. And so digital media has to contribute to that being a life-changing experience, that the product that I buy, the running shorts that I buy or the shoes that I buy are really going to change the experience of my running for as long as I have them and they’ll be the new standard that I’ll be shopping against when it comes time to refresh that product.

Marcos: What are some of the success factors necessary to enjoy the value of digital media?

Lyle: I had described earlier that the purpose of all things enterprise is to improve valuation, to support the growth of brand equity and to support the productivity of the enterprise. Within productivity, the area that we most are focusing on now, in terms of digital media application, is in improving the processes. Yes, we’re focusing as well on people, on staff, on patrons, with instruction and direction and motivation and support and training and inspiration. But generally, the area of growth for the benefit being derived from digital media is in the area of processes. So what do we mean by that? What we mean by processes is that we want to exploit these new assets that every enterprise now has, this proliferation of information of data, statistics, information, knowledge and wisdom. So we want to exploit this because this is a new asset class that has been created within the enterprise. It’s an asset that is readily exploited when it comes time to communicate with patrons that are gonna contribute to that brand valuation.

Secondly, we want to leverage the communication tools. The point is that the cost of these communication devices is now so low compared to the benefit that can be derived from them, that any enterprise has frankly got their head in the sand not to move into that direction.

Marcos: Is there anyone in the industry doing this really effectively?

Lyle: One of them is Sport Check. This is a Canadian sporting goods chain serving a quite wide demographic of consumers. and Sport Check have taken the tact that key factor is to integrate the way that the digital media engages the consumer with that interface to customer support and staff support in some categories, sporting goods, electronics, etc., etc., mobile phones, a large, large percentage, over 60%, of the sales are associate assisted. And so their recognition was that it just didn’t stand to reason to have a silo of digital media presenting messages and offering integration within the store and have a silo of customer support. The key lesson from what Sport Check has done is integrating the digital media as a device into the sales assistance process. Very key what they’ve done.

We’re seeing that same kind of example being taken by Whole Foods in their experimentation in the southeast of the US. Their Avalon store in the north of Atlanta, near Alpharetta, is where they try new technology. So this is the store that has electronic shelf labels, for example. What they’ve experimented with, and had some important results and insights from, is integrating social media into a video wall that’s in the cafe element of the Whole Foods location. They’ve also been trialing the use of mirrored gamification basically, where our interaction with that flat panel that’s both a mirror and is capturing our motion is creating a new image based on our interaction with that panel. It’s creating that image while also being used to promote a particular in-store brand to us. So they’re doing a good job.

Another example of a good job of digital media integration is the Time Warner flagship store on 25th in New York. So why is it important? It’s because this is a store where people come to pay their bills and get problems resolved and pick a new modem to activate their service. So why it’s important is that they turned a location that has been typically very transaction focused into a location that’s promoting the vision of how media is used in a home. They have self-service areas where patrons can browse the use of media for security and other applications, household monitoring. They have a large interactive flat panel that looks almost like a smartphone, and so while people are waiting for their appointment time, their number to come up, they can interact and learn about the services. And while they’re interacting, others are watching the interactions so it becomes group fun, basically. They’re operating off a single content management platform which means that things are integrated.

There’s also some very good work being done related to the integration with security and surveillance systems. In particular in retail where shrinkage and the awareness of how patrons are behaving in terms of traffic patterns, for planogram, etc., we see the integration of security systems which are typically used for surveillance and image capture being translated, and that system is being turned around now so that it can also be used to promote. So some good work being done fairly widely, especially in the thrift store area, the dollar store area.

Marcos: What does it take to get this right and mitigate risk?

Lyle: Here’s what we’re finding, that one of the other key areas in terms of getting it right is the introduction of that messaging device, of that display device, as a part of a conversation that occurs between the sales associate and the customer. And so the ability for those two people to turn their shoulders slightly, and rather than speaking to each other or with each other, to turn their shoulders slightly so that both of them are looking out at the possibility of the future. That’s what happens when we see the introduction of tablet devices where it’s possible to fling a piece of media from a mobile device on to a video wall, for example, or to move that video wall image or that display image on to the handheld device for engagement between the associate and that patron, or a group of patrons.

So one of the things Sport Check has done well, others in banking, retail, sporting, entertainment, hospitality, etc., etc., one of the things that they’re doing well, is introducing this new element of operation, which is the handheld device, to the conversation so that that engagement experience is more focused and ultimately delivers better value. They’re going into this without any doubt that digital media is going to enable the business and enterprise goals that they have. The question that they have is which ones, and to what degree, are we undertaking risk and consuming time and resources as we get this right.

And this is driving two other elements of what successful organizations are doing. They’re mitigating risk, they’re managing the risk. They’re going to well-qualified suppliers who have proven available, scalable, digital media technologies and capabilities. And they’re also doing something that matters more than anything else, and that is that they’re looking to minimize their total cost of ownership. So that is not to say that they’re looking at paying as little as possible for the media that they’re intending to use. No, they’re looking at it much more widely. The cost of the media is minimal compared to its use. And so they’re looking at making it easy for their staff members to take advantage of the media, easy for their partners, easy for the interfaces…they’re looking at making it easy for the interfaces with other systems, and they’re looking at mobilizing the total possible value out of that investment.

So they’re doing those three things. One, they’re pursing without the doubt that this is gonna be good for them. Secondly, they’re mitigating, they’re managing the risk along the way as they got on with it, and thirdly, they’re minimizing their total cost of ownership over time.

Marcos: What are the opportunities for financial institutions?

Lyle: Banks are, in particular, at a key point in the history of that entire industry. It’s pretty tough to make money when interest rates are as low as they are, and so banks, who have wrestled with the restoration of confidence by consumers, and are now faced with a very daunting task of trying to make profit off of a margin that’s gonna be very little in terms of prime lending rates, they’re now facing a third element and that is the integration of a whole new market of lifetime customers in the Millennials demographic coming into what is modern banking.

I guess I could say that there is a fourth element and that is the potential, the possibility, of selling financial related services, such as insurance, through what we think of as savings and loan and banking branches. So four major elements coming together: the need for consumer confidence. Secondly, the requirement to generate profitability. Third, a new demographic becoming part of their patron base. And fourth, the potential for other services to be presented and offered and managed under the umbrella of financial services portfolio. And so banks are especially daunted these days and are looking to digital media to help resolve some of those inherent challenges in their industry.

Marcos: How are they achieving results by using this technology?

Lyle: They’re really doing three things well. First of all, they acknowledge that they are in the information business. And being in the information business, one grasps inherently that information is powerful. The powerfulness of information is an element that can make consumers nervous and so they’re going about putting information into the hands of their consumers so as to relieve the anxiety over the fact that that logo of the bank over there may have a lot more information that they’re not sharing with me. So they’re embracing the relationship between themselves as a brand and service provider and consumers whose lives they wish to empower and add value to.

And thirdly, they’re keeping a close watch on what is being applied in terms of digital media, to be at pace. Because organizations in a category, in a market, organizations in a category that appear to not be embracing new approaches that align with the values and capabilities of their patrons are seen as a little too old-school.

Marcos: Can you explain the term “immersive,” and why is it important?

Lyle: The question we would ask ourselves about “immersive” is the degree to which it’s really important versus a catchphrase. And the term “immersive” is so representative of a range of issues and elements that it really is a valuable point of shorthand. So what does immersive describe that’s really important? Immersive really says that all of my senses are going to be engaged when I’m in this environment. When I’m in this place, that place is going to be more productive as a place for me to have my body and my senses, my aspirations, my goals, and my wallet, because it’s going to be speaking to me and with me in ways that matter to me. And it’s going to be, most of all, it’s gonna be respecting my time.

Immersiveness is to offer experiences or elements of an experience that ultimately are gonna help me achieve what I’m looking to achieve in my life through that visit to that location. So why does immersive matter? Immersive matters because those elements of engagement, of interaction are gonna differ from person to person because we learn differently. Yeah, there’ll be macro-level trends and things that we all like to do. For example, I’m not a big fan of doing games when I’m shopping and I’m with other people but others of my family love it, so I become part of the experience when they’re trying that game in that retail experience. I’m not gonna step up and do that but they love it, and my credit card will come out of my wallet, guaranteed, because of it.

So immersiveness is the offer of options of engagement. Why this is so important, why immersive in that area is so important, is that the medium is the message and the message is, “We value you. We respect you. We want to bring something of worth to you,” and so immersive matters from that standpoint.

Marcos: I’ve heard you use the term “acceptable ignorance” before, Lyle, can you elaborate on that?

Lyle: Acceptable ignorance is used to describe the fact that it may not be worthy of investment to learn something in order get the value from it. So in other words, we will see that certain objectives, subjective objectives, are achieved with the use of digital media. We’ll see that some very tangible business results are delivered. However, in the case where we would apply acceptable ignorance, we would agree that we wouldn’t undertake to quantify the value that’s coming off of that process because knowing the value is really not gonna be a unique insight or move the needle that substantially. So acceptable ignorance is really a part of managing the investment in the digital media.

Marcos: Thanks a lot for joining us today, Lyle, it’s been very informative.

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