2012
07.18

Perhaps the connected consumer truly will become king … or already is. The bigger question we face now is whether or not corporations recognize the shift and are appropriately armed to accommodate.

The idea that Gregg Garrett presented to readers in his latest column that consumers have begun this transformation around connected technologies in order to make buying decisions and that their expectations for how products, services, and life experiences should function definitely has legs.

I just read an interesting benchmarking study from FedEx on the impact of social media technologies on today’s business environment. First of all, I love the fact that a company like FedEx is providing us with some benchmarking data on social technologies for business. But what I like most of all is the fact that the study didn’t simply outline a series of numbers about how businesses have a social-media presence and the impact it could have. Instead, it challenges businesses to become what it calls a “social business” in that it transforms from simply having a presence in the social-media world to one that takes strategic action around engagement in order to support business goals, foster brand affinity, and generate some value.

The study, which was done in conjunction with communications company Ketchum, is a great first step. But I say why stop at social? Referencing Garrett’s article, he points out that things like social media are simply the front edge of a more complete connected movement. He says, “An entire generation has been raised in this world and the expectation that life is “connected” no longer only means that a communication signal (cellular, Wi-Fi, etc.) can reach them, but more importantly that their experiences are integrated throughout their life.”

Have large corporations recognized this trend early enough to capitalize? Those that aren’t slow to adapt their business model to meet this change will come out on top.

More focus should be on things like how consumers are engaging with your brand using devices; how are they influenced by advertisements of all kinds; and how do they relay their recommendations to friends and family? My bet is that a device or social media platform is involved in each instance. And just as the FedEx study suggests, rather than just having a presence in this worlds, corporations need to be understanding these interactions and capitalizing on what the “king” consumer is telling them.

Companies today are moving in that direction. We’ve seen large consumer goods makers moving away from 800 numbers on product labels for consumers and instead encouraging them to interact with them on social media. The smart ones are capitalizing on this data, aggregating the information, and implementing real plans of action based on this realtime consumer feedback. Retail and POS (point-of-sale) markets are in prime position to capitalize.

Even to a degree, large package delivery companies that invest billions in telematics technologies are making a statement, either direct or indirect, that they realize the consumer wants to be able to track their goods on their terms. Such technology is letting them do so, and from their very own connected devices at any time they wish.
We just saw Southwest Airlines announce GPS-enabled package shipping for freight. Could this one day move to passenger transport where we know exactly when our loved ones land? A stretch, maybe … maybe not.

The point of the matter is, every move a company makes with regards to technology should be a test for how to better serve that connected consumer. Even if the original intent was just on improving enterprise function, there could very well be a solution in there for better serving that king connected customer. And it’s always good practice to want to please the king.

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