Mutually benefitting Technology

Susan Doniz, Global CIO, Aimia
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Susan Doniz, Global CIO, Aimia

Changing consumer behavior trends related to mobile and social interaction significantly impact the underlying enterprise environment and are especially acute in retail. While new technologies are enabling brands and retailers to capture more data than ever, this new world has also changed how customers interact in-store and online.

Information is being captured - often in real time - tracked, analyzed and digested to discover interactions and relationships.

Take for example, the development of wearable computers, which promise to stream real-time information and deliver enhanced-reality applications directly into your field of vision. Combining a camera, video recorder, microphone, voice recognition, and processing power, these are essentially hands-free tablet computers.

Imagine two possible scenarios by which this technology achieves mass adoption — one scenario beneficial to consumers, and one not so beneficial.

Scenario #1: Device manufacturers and partners join forces to build applications that enhance the quality of life for wearable computer owners. Users are invited to opt in to data-sharing applications that provide recognition/rewards in exchange for allowing marketers to collect data about location, ads viewed, retail environment experiences, and other behavioral data.

Scenario #2: Marketers collect data without users’ knowledge or permission and sell data to third parties. Since data is sold to the highest bidder, marketers attempt to monetize personal information with intrusive, targeted advertising that appears to come from Big Brother. Wearable computers become just another delivery mechanism for digital junk mail. In this scenario, customers are more likely to get offers optimized for merchants, but not relevant or fulfilling for them.

At Aimia, we believe that if consumers and brands are to benefit from the Big Data, we must strive for a future that values and promotes real relationships. This is a world in which responsible customer data results in:
• Identifying best customers
• Understanding their journey
• Providing relevant experiences along the way
• Promoting engaging offers
• Communicating wherever customers are through chosen channels
• Interacting in more meaningful ways

We may successfully steer retail to a place where Big Data analytics serves a clear purpose and delivers measurable returns for both brands and customers.

Key to this mutual benefit is a focus on customer privacy priorities:

• Transparency -knowing what data is collected and how it's used
• Reciprocity –meaningful rewards and recognition in exchange for their data
• Control - over what they provide/how it's shared
• Trust- knowing their data is secure and being used by their permission

Everyone wins in a world where both technology and the gathering and use of data are customer-centric. In this world, individuals have more control over their data, enabling them to select which brands and channels to listen to and which to turn off.

We thus need to proactively position our businesses to place data and technology in service of our customers. It’s the difference between using these tools to spy on our customers and using them to see the world through their eyes.

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