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Consumer Corner with Jim & Michael

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Recently, the Consumer Markets practice held a webinar focusing on the Connected Consumer in 2015 and Beyond!  We had a few insightful questions at the end of the webinar that we thought we would share with everyone:Caricature
How do manufacturers, brands and retailers work together for the actual connected consumer?
Michael Forhez: Retailers and manufacturers are now blended in many respects. It is an industry that always required degrees of collaboration to ensure it works. In the old days, manufacturers made products which retailers stocked and sold. Today, both entities do a good deal of the same things, with suppliers selling direct to consumers and retailers creating their own private labels, many as good – or in some instances even superior to – the national brands we all know and love. I think the explicit and implicit implications for the connected consumer are really nothing sort of game changing. And this is among the reasons why manufacturers and retailers have a vested interest in conceiving and executing a new way to satisfy consumer demand.
Taking the point further, there will and should be a renewed interest in sharing disparate data, information and insights about consumer behavior. Not just after the sale, which we can readily obtain from loyalty programs, but during the entire path to purchase. This will come from social listening, social interaction, and through digital marketing paired with a shared purpose for how trading partners can serve the interests of their common customers.
In the webinar, a lot of customer cases involving innovative technology were discussed. What are some of the enabling technologies you see companies investing in?
Jim Hertzfeld:  There’s no question that there is a proliferation of devices and consumer electronics are getting cooler and cooler. Just browsing and seeing what’s new at events like the Consumer Electronics Show from a few of weeks ago you see an explosion of really fun and actually practical devices. But all these devices and experiences, it almost goes without saying, are useless without content and data. So, the way I think about this is probably in terms of the device-enabling technology… things like cloud, big data integration and APIs. Information-as-a service – or as an enterprise service – is something that more and more companies are trying to accomplish to make it easier and faster to share their core data and information. And I think this is often kind of forgotten. It’s a little bit surprising, but the value in sharing shelf-level inventories, sales data, or order history and then having the ability to push this out is important to get right.
There are also a lot of great cloud platforms out there and there’s a lot of really cool enterprise class cloud applications, and a lot of companies are adopting these as they mature. Activating that cloud subscription and getting it started, even configuring it is easy. But getting the data in and out of the enterprise is a lot more important to get right. So, I think building the factories is easy; building the railways of data is a little tougher. And that is something I hope people are thinking about when they think about this technology.

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Jim Hertzfeld and Michael Forhez

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