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The Future of the Connected Consumer

October 11, 2017 — Damien Moore-Evans

Last week, I attended “Future of Connected and 5G,” a talk from Verizon in partnership with NYC Media Lab Summit and Alley. Presented by Verizon Open Innovation, a group within Verizon that collaborates with outside partners to explore challenging technology issues, the panel discussion and workshop focused on 5G technology and its ability to empower and revolutionize digital media and brand behavior.

According to GSMA Intelligence, the mobile data analysis website, 5G will be available within the next three years. By 2025, 5G will cover one-third of the world’s population. The transfer rate of 5G networks will run at 1GB per second, which is essentially instantaneous speed. It will be interesting to see how IoT and emerging technology such as AI, AR and VR utilize the newfound speed. Interestingly, “previously-emerging” technology was brought back in the form of QR.

When QR codes first debuted, many brands adamantly tried to incorporate the technology into their consumers’ purchasing experiences, seeing it as an opportunity to bridge the online and offline. However, due to a myriad of barriers – to name a few, the clunkiness and unreliability of mobile connectivity, the fact that QR technology was not pre-installed into phone devices- QR never quite took off (as documented on many a Tumblr websites such as this one). However, with the recent iOS 11 update, which includes an embedded QR scanner, perhaps this is the technology’s second chance? Apple’s concerted effort to work with the technology perhaps signals a more sophisticated iteration of the QR user experience. I’m particularly interested in how brands incorporate QR codes onto their packaging; specific to FMCG brands, the return of QR should permit a more interactive experience on shelf for the consumer (i.e. brands providing unique and more detailed content such as coupons or recipes).

Ultimately, the next iteration of technology should bring both consumer and brands unforeseen benefits, especially as hardware and software evolve in tandem. The increased speed of data transfer should acclimate technology like VR and AI more seamlessly into consumer’s lives, transforming them into less one-off experiences and instead being a part of their everyday lives. The “Expectation Economy” often discussed should become more heightened with consumers expectations sky-rocketing; after all, if they’re able to ask for their Uber quicker, shouldn’t it also arrive to them quicker?

Hopefully, brands are already thinking about how this technology can speed up processes and enhance their consumer interactions and experiences. Perhaps this will result in more satisfactory response rates, greater surprises and delights in the shopping experience- who knows? What’s important is for brands to realize that innovating your products and how your consumers interact with them is just as important as innovating the technology around us.

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