If ‘interconnected’ is the word of the century, than how can we build ‘The Interconnected Strategy’?

+ DIGITAL: Inheriting a Complex World

The Digital World is reshaping the way that brands interact with their customers. The rise of social media has laid the groundwork for the world 2.0, creating an environment where consumers can engage with their favorite brands and stay ‘connected’ from the palm of their hand. Via smartphones and portable devices, the ‘consumer,’ as they have become known, is becoming a ‘prosumer’ and beginning to shape the brand in the manifestation of their own desires. And the key enabler is the digital medium.

The implication that this has for brands is immense. The question is, where should an enterprise focus their digital resources?

The initial evolution of Digital Business has focused on two areas: eCommerce and social media.

Corporate titans like Amazon and Facebook have pioneered these digital avenues. Amazon has built an empire through the development of an eCommerce channel, leveraging technology to create supply-chain efficiencies and cut costs. While Web 2.0-giant Facebook has risen to prominence by creating an advertising platforms based around social interactions.

The question is, does generating eCommerce sales and getting a few thousand Likes really shift the customer experience?

In some ways yes, but in many ways no. Because for many they are still focused around the monetization of customer interactions, and not the experience. At the core, brands are facilitators of experiences and act as a proxy between the customer and a specified outcome. The problem for many of today’s companies is that they view themselves as the owners of these experiences, and are thus constantly stuck in a mode of trying to sell.

What the digital medium is doing is transforming the dialogue from a one-way message to a two-way conversation. The conversation itself is becoming the centerpiece and reshaping the way brands are perceived. This is the beginning of something big.

Businesses need to wake up to the fact that customers want more. Deliver a great experience, make a positive impact in society, and provide the means to engage – this is the new baseline. In today’s world, customers are looking to build a connection rather than simply engage in a transaction.

That’s why the Interconnected Strategy is the new strategy for doing digital business.

Rather than trying to build online channels and networks to push products and scale promotions, the focus should be on connecting. While Likes on Facebook or Followers on Twitter can have some significance, that is not where the real focus should be.

What matters is the quality of engagement. The sharing, the participation, the conversation – in the long-term, those are the qualities that will define a brand.

So what does a company need to build the Interconnected Strategy?

Website

Given that it is 2013, pretty much every company at least understands now that a having website is essential. But what should the website have?

That, of course, depends on what type of message and image the company is trying to convey. But there are a few essential points to focus on:

  • the site should be responsive – adaptable to any device – so that visitors can comfortably read and engage with the content from mobiles phones, tablets and laptops;
  • the site should look active; rather than being a one-way ‘look-at-us’ website, there should be the feeling of some ongoing conversation – ideas include a blog, special content features, podcasts, or video features;
  • the site should focus on communicating and conveying the essence of the brand. There doesn’t need to be any digital ‘bells and whistles’ to show how avant garde the company is, the beauty is in the simplicity and execution of the essentials. Make the site design driven, rather than digitally driven.

Video Networks

A Like, a Follow, a PIN – these are great, but they are passive actions.

The real movement behind a brand happens through word of mouth, people need to be talking to a brand in order for it to build traction.

However, in a world where everybody has a connected device and network connectivity is becoming omnipresent, customers no longer need to be physically present to connect with a brand.

While Skype was the pioneer, new services such as Google Hangouts enable brands to take video chat to a whole new level. Via Google Hangouts, companies can chat with up to ten people simultaneously. And here’s the kicker, it’s free.

The power of real conversation has not diminished because of ‘social media,’ if anything it has increased. One expert estimates that only about 7% of word of mouth happens in these social-media channels.

eCommerce

A decade after the Dot-Com Bubble, eCommerce is finally starting to blow up. But it is an area that is very poorly understood by most companies. Why?

Because it is not like traditional retail and there is no instantaneity to it. It requires an investment of time and resources, along with a little experimentation.

But the eCommerce channel is essential to The Interconnected Strategy because a great eCommerce strategy will help hurdle over geographical boundaries and tap into new markets globally.

Earlier this year, we talked about a few companies who are doing this really well in our ‘Collaborative Commerce’ post.

+ DIGITAL: The Advent of Collaborative Commerce

The key is to build both the eCommerce framework, and the strategy to move customers there. Now that customers are engaging from mobile and tablet devices, the whole process needs to be thought through comprehensively.

It takes thorough research, planning and time, but eCommerce is the essential cornerstone to The Interconnected Strategy because it provides companies with a mechanism to SHIFT their business model and open new market boundaries.

Overall, the world of business is changing rapidly and the digital domain is the new frontier. While entering the fray with a traditional business mindset may bring in a few Likes and eCommerce sales, companies of the future realize that customers want more and that the real power lies in connections and conversations. That’s why ‘interconnected’ is the word of the century.


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