In an attempt to veer away from topics commonly in the zeitgeist, this is not a point-of-view on the future of Amazon’s business, nor is it a commentary on the anti-trust bill targeting Big Tech. It’s not even a perspective on Web3. Instead, it is a barometer of where we are today in our technological adoption, what that foreshadows for human behavior, and the corresponding implications on marketing.
Amazon recently acquired OneMedical, a primary care provider with tech-forward offices that serve to enhance the patient experience, but also to improve healthcare outcomes. A few weeks after, it announced the acquisition of iRobot, the manufacturer of the popular Roomba vacuum. $5.6B later, it has added to a portfolio that confirms our path down the road of convergence.
Looking past the veneer of the buzzword reveals that technology is creating connections among slices of life that were once disparate. It also signals an era where humans have the control to cause real- or near-term outcomes, which become progressively more anticipatory and intuitive over time.
Understanding this evolution requires a look into the forces that are shaping the landscape behind-the-scenes:
Internet of Things (IoT) and Decentralized Access – The Roomba and OneMedical’s app are just two data points in the infinitesimal progression of IoT, which at its simplest, are a set of bi-directional interfaces through any device connected to the internet. We are already tethered to our phones and computers, but we should expect to see legacy analog experiences become connected – housekeeping, healthcare, and driving to name a few.
Growing Datasphere – With IoT, mobile, and the principle of Moore’s Law, the amount of data we have available is staggering. In 2020, the datasphere hit 64 zettabytes of data, which is equivalent to 20,000X more storage capacity than the world’s largest hard drive. That data is stored in 8,000+ data centers and distributed across more than 100 countries around the world.
5G – While the metaverse has been the darling of the headlines, the enabling force is one we cannot see. The Fifth Generation of connectivity is rolling out, and its most well-understood benefit – speed – is only one-third of the story. Latency, a measure of responsiveness, enables precision in connected experiences like autonomous driving or autonomous driving. IoT is the third benefit, as 5G allows for the connection of 1 million devices per square kilometer at high energy efficiency.
Freshly armed with some good cocktail party knowledge, the question remains: how will technological change affect human behavior and, by extension, marketing? The short answer is that everything that can be connected will be, which means that the playbook has three chapters:
Value exchange – Are you future fitting your interactions with consumers with the experiences and devices that provide unique value? Not too far in the distant future, a smart bathroom mirror will have display and voice interfaces to show you your schedule, give you the weather rundown, and inventory your refrigerator for dinner ingredients. Where in that value chain do you want to sit?
Data strategy – This is a multifaceted topic that does not stop at the collection of first-party data and clean rooms. As the datasphere proliferates, a data strategy must also account for security, redundancy, and storage, which brings along the topic of globalization and geopolitics.
Customer Experience Orchestration – Are you building the readiness to orchestrate the experience across time and space? Behavioral nudges across IoT will provide a competitive advantage to everyone from retailers re-targeting consumers to pharma manufacturers aiming for patient compliance. The critical readiness factors will be the data, artificial intelligence, and orchestration infrastructure in place to build the constellation of experiences.
We should expect Amazon’s recent acquisitions to follow a similar trajectory, which should inspire your own roadmap into the future of customer experience.