Big Data + Trust = Serendipity

August 23, 2012

We are drowning in data and information but while it’s abundance is critical it’s the richness of the data, where the real opportunity lies. By connecting these big disparate data sources we can infer deeper insights about the context surrounding an individual.

Big Data as it’s known and the capabilities of cloud computing which allows its unlimited storage effectively allows us to personalise the web, but are people capitalising on its benefits in the right way? In my opinion we’ve still got a long way to go. For example, how many of you have noticed that you are still being served ads of those shoes after researching them online a couple of times? Brands need to rethink their approach to Big Data. Currently, brands are using Big Data and algorithms to make recommendations on what is relevant to our immediate desires. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it definitely provides short term gain – but how can we use Big Data more effectively to establish a trusted long term relationship that is mutually beneficially for both brand and consumer?

There is a growing trend of a fear of “over personalisation”, a world where perfect personalisation means being 100% accurate and consequently one which is devoid of discovery and one in which the power (and importance of) serendipity becomes increasingly hard to come by. Serendipity should be celebrated and not avoided. But it’s not something you can force, instead you need to create the optimum environments for random, enchanted discovery to occur. The Human World is not a place of ultimate precision, and therefore we need to mimic it’s uncontrolled nature by injecting ‘random’ content that will introduce a new direction and insight that will broaden our consumers experience of the web.

Every day, we are presented with an array of decisions where choices need to be made. Life is filled with decisions like these that have a different meaning for us now and a future version of ourselves and we are often to quick to make the choice that satisfies our immediate desires, at the expense of our long term goals and brands are often to quick to jump on this natural behavioural trait as it delivers impressive early results. Therefore, brands should be utilising Big Data to not only satisfy their consumers immediate desires of ‘I want that product now’, but also create the opportunity for deep and rewarding long-term relationships by interrupting and disrupting their established areas of interest and expanding the potential for new discoveries and conclusions to be made through providing credible recommendations to their consumers for new types of behaviour.

Trust is key here. For consumers to trust the brand, they will need to demonstrate such credibility. Not only does the consumer need to trust the services they are using, they increasingly need to be able to trust the service provider. In my opinion, those brands that are likely to be successful in the future will be the ones that leverage their resources and the rich insight available from Big Data to influence people in a way that motivates them to satisfy the now and adopt new forms of positive behaviour. For example, Tesco’s have the ability to identify whether an individual consumer is trying the latest fad diet from their Dunhumby clubcard database – take the Dukan Diet for example. As a result Tesco will serve the customer on the Dukan diet offers on all protein related products during the ‘attack’ phase of the diet. What if Tesco’s instead turned round and said, ‘Hey – it’s going to be tricky maintaining this Dukan diet of yours, it’s not healthy in the long term and it gives you bad breath. We know losing weight and staying healthy is hard goal to maintain, but here are some simple meal plans that we think might help and we can work through this together to reach your goal, otherwise you might want to invest heavily in some mouthwash and chewing gum’. Spooky? Maybe. But it creates a mutually beneficial relationship in the long term as the brand has not only provided the consumer with credible recommendations but challenged them to do something they probably wouldn’t have considered themselves.

Therefore, by flipping the data logic on its head brands could be proactively helping the consumers whilst developing a stronger, trusted and less transient relationship in the long term– which will only result in more frequent purchases and greater profit in the long run.

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