In the next ten years businesses have an opportunity to ingrain themselves in our lives like never before. Advances in technology and data mean that business services can connect in more meaningful, helpful ways. When done with a bit of design flare, this connection can feel more personal and less commercial. Consider, for example, the application Shazam.
It started out as a simple iPhone application to identify music that you were listening to when you didn’t know the artist or song name. That feature alone is extremely useful but not very personal. Should you supply Shazam with your email address though, the service becomes extremely personalized. They can send you emails letting you know what the most tagged (ID-ed) songs that week were, if the artists you tagged have come out with new music, and if the artists you tagged are on tour. If you supply your Facebook login, it will also let you know what songs your friends are tagging.
This kind of personal recommendation helps them cross the line from a simple product to something woven into how you discover music.
Shazam is one feature away from becoming a music lovers best sidekick. The next step should be a geo-feature that tells you which of your artists are playing live near you. So whether you are home, on vacation, or in a different city for work, it will scan where you are for live shows and alert you of any you might like. In the future it might even scan your iTunes library to see which artists you’ve rated well or listened to the most, so it could alert you to those live performances as well.
Companies have started Facebook pages, blogs, and even started Tweeting. If they’re any good at it, they’re doing so in ways that are relevant to their readers, building their relationships, and their brand. Yet, most are not taking the most important step and figuring out how to meaningfully insert themselves into their customers lives.
Benjamin Moore has started asking customers to send in pictures of their rooms after painting them with Benjamin Moore paint, which are then posted for all to see. Even more recently they’ve launched an expert advice campaign via Facebook. The company is active across all social media platforms and they’re kicking a lot of ass (see articles in Forbes and NY Times). Although they’re doing a great job getting talking about, they aren’t just yet a sidekick to homeowners who are repainting. There’s still room for full on love.
The next step for Benjamin Moore might be launching an app that allows users to point their phone’s camera at a color anywhere and the app will tell them the matching Benjamin Moore paint or what paints to mix to get a match. Suddenly people can get their color inspiration anywhere, capture it, and bring it home. Then they can take a picture of their own room and click to digitally apply the paint and see the results. If they haven’t captured any of their own colors yet, they can try out the normal Benjamin Moore colors.
People think the opportunity of the next decade is to use social media to connect with consumers like never before. That is thinking too small though. The real opportunity is to figure out how new technology allows your company to become your consumers trusty sidekick for navigating your industry.