Marketing in the emerging era of connected-intelligence

By on December 25, 2013

Marketing in the emerging era of connected-intelligence     

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change…….Albert Einstein         

As the sun begins to set down on 2013, one is but tempted to see if the year can be bracketed or summarized to any dominant theme or logic – as led by any dominant brand, personality or topic. Alternatively whether the year would lead to any indication that sets up the precursor for the shape of things to come in the years ahead…

2013 witnessed progression on multiple dimensions of knowledge, intelligence, devices, business models and strategies, and on the sustained efforts of numerous professionals, luminaries and icons around the globe. The sum effort of which has led to an even more rapid adoption of web and mobile – for ‘big(ger)’ consumption of media, entertainment, information, commerce and education. The underlying and central theme across all segments being to ensure to be staying connected at all times, and to be using the web and mobile more than ever before. New users are coming into the fold of web and mobile by the minutes (if not seconds), while past users are discovering more and newer ways of living of the web and mobile. At the same time significant brands like, Blackberry, Motorola, Intel, Nokia, HTC, etc  have lost sheen (and not to mention mind and market shares). While brands like Amazon,Samsung, Apple, facebook, Softbank, Uber, Dell, Android, IOS etc added more variety and leadership tenets to their equity and repertoire.

Clearly 2013 stands out for being in the know, being connected and being able to generate/ trigger connections, interactions and transactions that have all made for a new and significant discontinuity. A discontinuity, that’s seemingly become the very reason for the rapid and intense adoption of mobile and web, and for fostering the very logic of connected intelligence.

ci 5Connected intelligence it appears is but ‘wisdom of the crowd’ (euphemistically speaking). It is the resultant intelligence of large data sets working together to proffer solutions and outcomes to routine and/ or complex problems.   The data that is now being gathered in unfathomable ways and being put to use by marketers has ubiquitously earned the title of “Big Data

If tomorrows marketing is of any indication and of the shape of things to come, than Big Data earns the larger vote for 2013, as it has become the platform for connected intelligence. Ergo big data is but connected intelligence when leveraged.  What could this mean then in the emerging connected intelligence era for marketers and all?

The emergence of customer-data grid: Marketers traditionally have gained intelligence by observing and studying attitudes and behaviors, habits and practices, leveraging new technologies/ technology elements towards shaping new products and winning marketing/ business strategies. The foundation has always been customer inputs. As devices have proliferated and more people are in adoption of web ways, customer inputs have become swifter, larger and more intelligent seeking. Ergo more customers are now living on a data grid than ever before. The customer behaviors and practices from myriad consumptions to spending patterns are all now available as transactional (and real value) data. Data that is allowing for deeper study via advanced analytics. Studies to synch and learn what diverse data clusters could offer as new insights to impact/ influence if not change the world in different ways. Effectively thus reinforcing the importance of customer grid(s) and the need to access the same 24×7.

Marketing with more choices than ever before: Inevitably for consumers and customers, choices have become abundant. Choices of how we consume news and information, Choices on how we chose to communicate with each other, how we can shop and spend, on whom we decide to like or follow, etc. With the proliferation of new screens and faster ways to communicate, network and consume, marketers now more than ever before are faced with a dilemma of how to best influence consumers and turn them into loyalists for their brands or services. In an era of smart phones, where everyone has/ is becoming smarter, who is then dumb? If intelligence has evolved just by connecting is there then an option of marketers not to recognize such an emergence of connected intelligence?  Is there an option for marketers to start defining and stratifying ciq’s (connected intelligence quotient vs. traditional parameters) to know how to offer better value on their product and / or services? Surely marketing has become a bigger and more complex challenge than ever. It is driving the need for analytics and big data and demanding support from IT (cloud) technologies to make the same accessible on anytime – anywhere needs. So as to stay connected at all times regardless of whether the customers are in active or passive modes.

The genesis of connected intelligence is collectivism and lies in connectivity.  Connections and connectivity has become the new norm. Connected intelligence is forming when various inputs and consumer interactions are connecting into the customer data grid. The marketer’s data (/ intelligence) on consumers is derived more of useful connections, than the data itself. How is this happening? How exactly are people connecting and remaining connected in varied ways? And what does all this mean to the new age marketing formats? Evidence is in that;

  • People are connecting to places on stores, websites, geo locations, ads on particular sites, chat / talk applications etc. Marketers need this data to figure out where all to be engaging with their customers? And to figure out whether to engage customers on these places with adverts, info, interactive experiences or transactional products and services
  • People are connecting to products, services and propositions. Marketers are trying to figure out what all are they buying currently, how much of it, how frequently and what all do they want (/ could want) to buy?
  • People are connecting to attributes. Marketers are seeking this data to assess what are the new and favorable attributes and the not so favorable ones. Specifically via who are they connected with and talking to?  What are the demographics on the same via age, location spans, family profiles, life-stage in which they are in, income levels, spending patterns to time and location correlations etc.)
  • People are connecting to other People for engaging, fun, entertainment etc.  Marketers seek to assess what the social profiles are such customers. And if they are they active tweeters or re-tweeters? that if they check out  brands on Facebook? etc.
  • People are generating connections related to time, recency and frequency – Connections are now happening by the seconds and so are interactions ? Marketers seek to know what happens first, how often and what time of day?

In the emerging era as data assets are brought together, there is an explosion of data itself. There are large challenges in taming the data, starting with the organization of data itself – from being able to store / retrieve such data clusters to the subsequent abilities to process them very quickly. However the connected intelligence is not so much in the ability to tame big data via cloud systems and smart storage solutions , nor is it in the ability of new algorithms/ software for number crunching/ or processing. The connected intelligence is the intelligence that emerges with the degree of connectivity itself – that emerges from the (connections and) collective behavior of people, devices and all the physical and virtual organizations that they are connected with. Such data and information that becomes available as a collective spread from the customer data grid that allows for newer/ richer insights and bigger ideas, is the resultant connected intelligence. It is a generated intelligence and is effecting big shifts on the evolution of digital economy. And if trends are of any indication the digital economy in time to come is expected to surpass the physical economy in value terms

How the connected intelligence works and helps marketers. Customer grid data and the generated intelligence from the widespread interconnectivity of people, devices and platforms is being applied in many and diverse ways.  From superior customer profiling, to user segmentation, to contextual ad targeting, to superior engagement levels on web, to advocacy on social medial platforms, to more relevant web site experiences, to driving higher levels of engagement, to sampling, to more relevant video and/or mobile content, etc. etc.,  all aimed for driving higher CTR’s, conversions, sales and building stronger brands . And sometimes even necessitating brand positioning changes (for ex: In the connected intelligence era, can Nokia run the risk of looking outdated and continue to say Connecting People? How much longer before they change? And many more brands will likely look to change sooner than later, or run the risk of looking trite and faded). 

Marketers find amazing usability of such big data and the connected intelligence they offer. The intelligence continues to grow with more connections and becomes increasingly extensible, for the knowledge emerges from the customer data grid. In addition as the data is portable and moves across platforms and media channels, it further drives the adoption of such intelligence to each and every aspect of marketing organization to enhance the overall stature of the brand and the overall business.

In sum, 2013 has been more about more people connecting to more devices and to more platforms, heralding the arrival of big data and paving the road map for connected intelligence.  The computing paradigm has changed in toto too. Mobile data consumptions around the world has tripled if not quadrupled in many places. Even in voice centric geographies like India, mobile data consumption has at least doubled among active mobile internet users (but some distance to go from the world avg of 4 gb/ mo). Samsung, Apple and Android have obviously played lead drivers role for same. Also 2013 witnessed in India too, the crossing over of laptops over desktop PCs, and the onset of the proliferation of tabs. It appears in emerging geographies too most new consumers will now directly leap over to tablets and laptops than start with the traditional PC, making it more obsolete than ever before. Companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Dell, Samsung, and other large hardware manufacturers/ software, FMCG, hospitality, retail, e-com sector companies etc have already started making significant changes for the post PC and the oncoming mobile-web 4G/ LTE era…   and for the oncoming of the connected intelligence era……..


About Subba Rao NV

Subbarao is an entrepreneur, management professional and a hands-on business leader with +20 years exp in consumer goods, tele-communications, wireless applications/ solutions and retail sectors, where he has handled large teams and multi unit businesses. Earlier he held VP- Sales & Marketing, COO/ CEO/ Apex positions at TATA Docomo, Bharti Airtel, Tanla Solutions and Conagra Foods (India). Having started at P&G as a management trainee, he has worked and led over 25 brands. Over the years he has lived and worked in different geographies including US, Japan and Vietnam, while holding p&l and growth responsibilities for market & value share leadership. In 2012 Co-founded Reboot Systems (India), a refurbished computers business - set up the brand, business and retail/ franchisee store model. After successfully exiting same (03/2015), is working to launch and establish his next start up - ( a platform based integrated 'jobs-skills one stop portal - presently in development stage'), to find a way out of skill-gap issues and to address the problems of skill-divide. Subbarao is also a member of Hyderabad Angels and a charter member of TIE and in his spare time runs a blog called best matters. [ email: ]

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