I’m sure every one of us has seen the famous Piccadilly Lights in London – the neon extravaganza that has illuminated Piccadilly Circus for decades.
But it appears nothing is immune from technology – and so it seems for this famous illumination which this morning breathed new life into Piccadilly Circus after months of being in darkness.
After a technological overhaul, the famous lights have become one – as big as a tennis court and, it seemed to me, significantly brighter than before.
The current iconic patchwork of screens has made way for a single state-of-the-art 790 sq m LED display.
Piccadilly makes use of some of the latest technology and, while it does not use surveillance tech, it still prompted me to speculate about the the Orwellian scenario of being able to broadcast adverts based on people’s gender, age and mood.
“We all seek more and more personalised experiences, but not at the cost of our privacy or an unwanted intrusion into our lives”
Technology already exists that can recognise different makes, models, even colours, of passing cars and broadcast adverts tailored to their drivers.
Seems a bit Big Brother? Well, that to me would be personalisation stepping over the creepiness line by a country mile.
And here’s the thing – we all seek more and more personalised experiences, but not at the cost of our privacy or an unwanted intrusion into our lives.
There is no doubt that personalisation and digital marketing are making great strides, but I wonder whether those strides are in the wrong direction.
With so much data being generated on a daily basis – think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat – our expectations are becoming far greater and more mature than the current capabilities demonstrated by retail brands.
“According to Gartner, 50% of organisations will be directing investment to customer experience by 2018, but I wonder how many of those will be including AI and machine learning in that investment plan”
Traditional analytics are no longer sufficient. If you want to deliver real personalised experiences, artificial intelligence and machine learning are essential.
According to Gartner, 50% of organisations will be directing investment to customer experience by 2018, but I wonder how many of those will be including AI and machine learning in that investment plan.
For personalisation to be truly personal and therefore effective, it needs to display three key attributes.
First, it needs to be done with shoppers’ permission, or it will be an intrusion.
Secondly, if personalisation is to work, it must be relevant and contextual.
It is no longer sufficient to either be retrospective or simply guessing at what might be relevant.
Retailers must use all the aforementioned data that we as consumers broadcast via social media for those intimate insights.
And thirdly, any personalised offering must deliver value to the consumer, not just be for the benefit of the brand.
Andrew Busby is founder and chief executive of Retail Reflections