Berlin, 27 November 2018. Maks Giordano is a digital strategist, one who looks to the future and supports companies in being prepared for the digital challenges. To understand the future, Giordano says at SUITS.Salon, it’s worth taking a look in the rear-view mirror. In 1968 the film ‘2001 – Odyssey in Space’ was released. In the classic science fiction film, Stanley Kubrick showed his vision of the future with incredible inventions such as video telephony, tablets and voice control. “Much of what was shown in ‘2001’ wasn’t there in 2001.” But it went all the faster afterwards. Skype has been around since 2003, Apple launched the iPad in 2010, and Amazon’s Alexa has just started its triumphal march around the world.
Giordano gave his presentation at SUITS.Salon gave an overview of groundbreaking technological innovations. His thesis: “The future is evolving exponentially, it will be there faster than we all believe today, as all these developments are mutually reinforcing. So one of the biggest challenges for companies is to keep pace with digital change, not to lose touch.
Voice Control, for example. We talk to Siri, with our car, even our televisions don’t need remote control anymore. Every day we give instructions to machines and thereby control processes. But what happens when machines talk to people? And why not hire a virtual assistant to arrange the appointment with the hairdresser? Google Duplex is such a machine and even introduces itself politely on the phone. Afterwards, the table is reserved in the favorite restaurant or a family pizza is ordered. And it’s so credible that the conversation partners at the other end of the line suspect that a person is calling.
For example artificial intelligence. AI spreads in all areas of life. Today, championships are held worldwide in duels with artificial intelligence, e-sports with programs that can imitate and beat the neural networks in the human brain. This is how AlphaGo, a computer program developed by three nerds in London, beats the world champion in the 3000 year old Chinese board game Go – although its inventors do not know the Chinese game as well as the old master himself. Huge arenas are now rented around the world to host e-sport tournaments. A few years ago, gamers were still seen as crazy crackpots. Thousands of journalists travel to the events. At a Dota 2 tournament in 2016, the winner won € 8 million. You can’t win that in many sports.
Modern life is not possible without a smartphone. It’s a remote control, shop window, telescope, bookshelf, newspaper, planner, hi-fi system, job center, marketplace, photo album, map, shopping list, personal trainer… and telephone, by the way. For Millennials and Gen Z, as the first generations of digital natives, media consumption is largely dominated by smartphones. Goose bumps are transformed into clicks. Concerts are not experienced, but filmed and immediately transformed into Insta Gold. In a gondola in Venice, the likes of the recently posted Insta Story count, and not the own Venetian attitude to life, which usually comes about on the Canale Grande. But Generation Z doesn’t know it differently, the smartphone has always been there, from birth. Gen Z streams music on Spotify, films and series on Netflix and the clothes come straight into the house. This trend forces brands to redefine their communication strategies and to pick up customers wherever they are – on their mobile phones.
Retail, too, needs to be rethought, says Giordano. Cashless payment with Alipay or WeChat has long since become part of everyday life in China. Credit cards won’t get you very far there. Or Amazon Go in Seattle. A cashless supermarket. Just pack your backpack and get out, the receipt will be debited from Amazon. The New York Times calls this curated shoplifting. Or smile-to-pay: Paying via face recognition. The Data Dollar Store, on the other hand, is more of a gag: in this store you pay with your data.
Big Data has been the currency on the net for a long time and everyone is involved. A quick photo from the dressing room with the question: “And how do I feel about that? and the immediate answer from a hundred followers, who replace their best friend on every shopping tour. So why not turn the cabin into a selfie photo studio right away?
The Internet is changing communication and distribution, Giordano explained. Influencers emerge from nowhere and suddenly become relevant for fashion marketing. Shops are changing from point of sale to point of communication.
Bianchi, for example. The cycling brand has opened a restaurant in Stockholm. Good coffee, selected products, good food, a cosy ambience are just as much a part of the brand as seat posts, pedal plates and ultra-light frames.
Or Adidas. The people of Herzogenaurach open facilities on classic running tracks in cities, where you can leave your things and take a shower. This is what Adidas Runbase calls itself. In addition, there are trainer courses, physiotherapy and medical check-ups, and the adjoining cafe offers fresh and healthy food.
Nike doesn’t always roll out the same store concepts, but rather tailors the assortment in its stores to local consumption patterns. Why sell soccer gear when the majority of customers in the catchment area are into yoga?
Is that still advertising one might ask oneself? And wasn’t corporate design and retail branding even the core of a successful brand strategy? And isn’t the recognition value the supreme law of a strong brand? In any case, Maks Giordano is of the opinion that the positioning of a brand locally, in a city, must become more and more individual. Because the customer in Detroit is different from the one in Berlin or Shanghai.
Rachel Shechtman saw exactly this trend with her idea and implemented it in NYC. STORY is her retail concept, which takes the standpoint of a magazine and changes constantly like a gallery. This means that every four to eight weeks STORY reinvents itself completely – from design to merchandise – with the aim of bringing a new theme or trend to light.
For example, sports brands allow customers to walk through the Virtual Reality glasses in the store with tried-on hiking boots over mountain ridges in the Alps or the Himalayas – according to personal preference. Fashion brands create products from personal data and suggest clothes that are adapted to the current weather of the city and the customer’s habits. Retail stores use screen walls to make the store appear very individual when the customer enters, with personalized information about Big Data.
People learn from machines, machines from people, retail from online, e-com from offline. Everything is networked and everything is evolving. Technologies are becoming cheaper and more efficient. The future comes faster than we think, says Maks Giordano, and above all differently than planned. In the future, 1+1 will often be more than 2. We must therefore take a close look and take trends seriously. Successful companies need an innovation manager who is always on the lookout for answers to the only relevant question in digital change: How do I find my brand in people’s lives?