CETW11: Digital experiences create 'multiverse' of customer engagement

Nov. 8, 2011 | by Christopher Hall

At the opening of this fall's Customer Engagement Technology World, business strategist and author B. Joseph Pine II suggested that goods and services were no longer enough to capture consumers' attention, but that "consumers are looking for experiences."

"We have shifted into an experience economy," he said. "And we need to innovate in experiences."

Pine delivered his opening keynote address, "Driving Customer Engagement through Digital Experiences," earlier today at CETW at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. The two-day multi-focused tradeshow covers consumer engagement strategies and technologies ranging from self-service and kiosk technology to digital signage to mobile interactivity.

The co-founder of Strategic Horizons and the author of several books about business strategy and the future of consumer business strategies, Pine said, in effect, that the explosion of digital technologies has increased the range of way to engage consumers from the real world into the virtual.

Expanding on the three dimensions of reality — time, space and matter — he said digital technology has increased businesses' reach into three new dimensions — no-time, no-space and no-matter — creating a combined "multiverse." Virtual places have created "no-space," he said, digital substances "no-matter," and autonomous events "no-time."

Pine used examples of each to suggest that companies can stretch completely into virtual realms or combine the virtual and the real: say, virtual places/games like "Farmville" or "Second Life" create places in no-matter, or "virtuality;" or 3-D printers, or even Domino's Pizza letting people design their own pizzas online, allow people to create objects in the virtual world and then have them translated into the real for "physical virtuality."

The concepts were intriguing, and the address clearly just a taste of Pine's deep exploration of the issues of digital alternate realities. But he used the ideas that stretched out of the realms of reality to bring forth ideas and strategies firmly rooted in the real.

For instance, Pine suggested that brands and companies shift their marketing dollars from straightforward advertising to creating "marketing experiences. ("It's a much better use of dollars," he said. "Why? Because then you can engage your customers.")

He also suggested that brands help their customers envision their own future (and how, of course, their brands would help them achieve it); that they continue engaging customers through their smartphones; that they "mass customize" their offerings; and that they shift from advertising to creating "virtual marketing experiences."

"The best offerings are the ones that transverse this multiverse," he said. "Because then we are limited only by human imagination, and of that there is no end."

Read more about digital signage trends.

Topics: Customer Experience , Digital Merchandising , Omnichannel / Multichannel

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