When we talk about what matters most to brands today, the conversation inevitably leads back to data. It’s become a ubiquitous and ill-defined concept that supposedly holds the keys to a successful future.
Though it’s a bit muddy, the general idea isn’t wrong: data is pivotal to growth and success now, and it will only become more important in the years to come. But “data” doesn’t really mean anything unless we know what we’re collecting, what to do with it when we get it, and perhaps most importantly, what we’re missing.
For most brands, this is a muscle being built today. That’s OK. Piecing together a comprehensive data plan takes time, but it is important to do. Not only will it help you pinpoint ways to serve consumers better now, but the ramifications down the line are enormous.
We’re entering a new era of experience creation. There’s going to be a shift from entirely human-created experiences to adaptive experiences that harness data to learn, generate, and heal themselves. And these new modes for creation will have significant impacts on brands, equipping them with the tools to respond to feedback and data in ways we can only dream of now.
I usually say that of the millions of moments of interaction you’re collecting data on every day, about 80% of them are not unique to you. That’s not to say your data doesn’t matter. Of course it’s important to understand it and to obtain a clear view of the interactions you have with consumers. But most of that information isn’t going to be a major difference maker for your brand — at least, not directly.
While those moments can (and should) be optimized — and data can help with that — what’s more important is that by mastering your data you can identify what makes up the remaining 20% of your interactions and begin to create meaningful differentiation from competitors there.
This the Curve of Differentiation, the areas where you need to stand out.
Data unlocks opportunities for brands to build personalized experiences that are not only more enjoyable but can connect consumers directly to what they need. The vast majority of your interactions with a consumer can and should follow the same patterns as industry standard, but there is magic in the 20%. And if it sounds important now, it will matter even more in a future of adaptive experiences.
From Questions to Knowing
Right now, all brands are at the mercy of uncontrollable moments. Social media and the growing demand for always on, accessible everywhere interactivity make it nearly impossible for your brand to have control over what the experiences your consumers have are like. You are living in a world of questions without any clear answers.
As your data muscle gets stronger, you begin to bring some of those moments back into your control, identifying which experiences are working well for you and which ones aren’t. You start to get a clearer picture of how things should work, but it can (and will) go beyond this.
Adaptive experiences will begin to do more of the heavy lifting in experience creation, enabling your brand to respond in real time to the moments that matter most. The Curve of Differentiation will help you know which interaction points have the greatest impact, and you can focus the adaptive UI’s capabilities on those areas. By their very nature, they’ll be adapting to inputs in the moment, and the Curve will start to sharpen in focus. Suddenly you’ll move from a world of questions to a world of knowing.
Instead of the turnaround time even the most agile teams require to shift, adjust and trial new approaches, adaptive experiences can quickly and seamlessly spin out variations on an interaction as soon as a consumer needs a little TLC or in the exact moment they would benefit most from a boost. You’ll know, right away, what is and isn’t serving your consumers. And that information will feed back into the adaptive experiences, making them smarter and improving how you serve your consumers. The ability to assess, adapt, and reassess will be instantaneous and continuous.
This won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen at all without the right data systems in place. But brands that want to succeed long-term will need to engage with this concept sooner rather than later.
Jason Cottrell is Founder and CEO of Myplanet, a software design studio that specializes in creating digital experience platforms for omnichannel retailers, e-commerce companies, telecom, grocery and other global brands.