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MIT Predicts The 10 Breakthrough Technologies For 2018

breakthrough-technologies

When you talk about the future of technology, you have two different approaches. The first one is to look into the distance the way Sci-Fi writers do, working with the imagination to push the boundaries of what the human mind can create.

The second approach is to aim at a closer target, looking at what is already going on. This is exactly what the MIT does with its annual prediction of the 10 breakthrough technologies that will lead the evolution of business and society, starting from today.

The list has been published in the recent March/April release of the MIT Technology Review magazine, the reference point for everyone interested in knowing what’s coming next. This top 10 includes the technologies believed to make the most impact over the next 12 months.

"This is our attempt to alert our readers: These are the technologies that you really need to or should pay attention to next year, and also going into the next few years," MIT Tech Review's editor David Rotman told Business Insider.

What does it mean ‘breakthrough’? Scrolling through the previous 17 editions of the list, you can find a few key benchmarks for defining this term: mass commercial use, foreseeable mass commercial adoption and, most of all, the profound impact on our lives.

With the words of Gideon Lichfield, editor in chief of MIT Technology Review, “our annual list of 10 world-changing technologies invariably defies attempts to find an overarching theme. But a look back at the past few years shows a trend: we’re including more and more advances in artificial intelligence”.

There is no doubt that the AI will play - and is already playing - a huge role in the development of many aspects of our lives: the way we communicate and build relationships; how we work and find jobs; the strategy of businesses and organizations; how we take care of our health; the way Brands personalize the customer experience to appeal people's uniqueness.

3D METAL PRINTING

While 3D printing has been around for a while now, printing objects in other materials than plastic has been quite a dream (an expensive one). Now we are moving towards the ability to create large, intricate metal structures on demand; something that could revolutionize manufacturing, a new era for the 4.0 Enterprise.

ARTIFICIAL EMBRYOS

With the embryos, we face a topic hotly debated for its ethical and philosophical problems. And yet the research is moving faster than legislation and political debate. For the first time, researchers have made embryo-like structures from stem cells alone, without using egg or sperm cells, thus providing a new understanding of how life comes into existence.

SENSING CITY

For years we have heard about the smart city, but it is now time for an even smarter smart city. In Toronto, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs are already implementing sensors and analytics in order to rethink how we build and live cities. Sensing cities could make urban areas more affordable and citizen’s friendly.

AI FOR EVERYBODY

Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing in technology; there is no doubt about that. The only brake to its full application has always been the high costs of development. But now cloud-based AI is making the technology cheaper and easier to use, opening the market to many more companies.

DUELLING NEURAL NETWORKS

Right now the Artificial Intelligence can learn and identify things based on the processed data, but what if it could also have an ‘imagination’? Companies such as Google Brain, DeepMind and Nvidia are now matching two AI systems that can help each other to create original images, and generate something akin to a sense of imagination.

BABEL FISH EARBUDS

Google's omnipresence in this list shows that the company is not ‘just’ a search engine anymore. The Pixel Buds show the promise of near-real-time translation. The technology is still young and clunky, but it could help overcome the barrier of communication in an increasingly global world (in the wake of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

ZERO-CARBON NATURAL GAS

The brand new smart city requires a different approach to energy supply and distribution. The answer could be in a new approach to natural-gas plants, made to efficiently and cheaply capture carbon released by burning natural gas, thus avoiding greenhouse emissions.

PERFECT ONLINE PRIVACY

The most urgent issue of the digital era is the use (and abuse) of personal information. As shown by the Cambridge Analytica affair and the GDPR legislation, the road to the perfect online privacy is still long, but blockchain could help to make it faster. Computer scientists, in fact, are perfecting a cryptographic tool to carry out transactions without revealing any more information than necessary.

GENETIC FORTUNE-TELLING

Our destiny is written in our genes. This is science, not science fiction. The study of the genome can help scientists understand and predict diseases and human traits. DNA-based predictions could be the next significant public health advance, but will also pose an ethical problem. Will the next evolution of discrimination be based on genetics?

MATERIALS’ QUANTUM LEAP

What is the next step in the evolution of computing? Quantum computing seems to be the correct answer, as recently shown by the use of a quantum computer to model the electronic structure of a simple molecule. Understanding molecules will allow chemists to design more effective drugs and better materials, but the prospect of a new wave powerful computers comes with a question: What should (and could) we do with so much power?

Photo by Billy Huynh on Unsplash

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Neosurance, the startup founded by Neosperience and Digital Tech, continues its journey of revolution in the InsurTech world, bringing home two prestigious awards that confirm it as one of the most appreciated players, not only in Italy, thanks to the recent opening of the American headquarters in Sunnyvale .

The 2018, in fact, opens under the banner of the first prize in the "Intelligent Automation" category, won during the MF Insurance & Previdenza Awards 2018, organized by Milano Finanza and Accenture.
Neosurance has been rewarded thanks to the product "Al Volo", a micro insurance solution developed by Axa Italy and based on the Neosurance platform, in which is accumulated the technological experience of the DCX consolidated in a decade by Neosperience.

"Al Volo" comes as a further step in a collaboration born in 2017, when Axa Italy and Neosurance laid the foundations for an ad hoc product for Tiassisto24 - an app that offers car concierge services - offering travel insurance that covers medical expenses for the 25 thousand users of the community.

After being included in the Insurance Factory 2018 Trend Report, on the April 13th came a further recognition of absolute value, with the inclusion in the list, drawn up by StartupItalia! and The European House - Ambrosetti, of the best 10 + 1 startups that have the potential to innovate the FinTech world ecosystem from Italy.

Neosurance, born from an idea by Dario Melpignano - CEO and co-founder of Neosperience, the first Digital Customer Experience Cloud - and Andrea Silvello - CEO and co-founder of Digital Tech - attracted the attention of the most important FinTech players, always looking for innovative solutions.

The technology of Neosurance, in continuous development, is based on artificial intelligence and dedicated to communities and insurance companies, allowing the sale of micro policies in "push" mode. The fulcrum of the value proposition for customers lies in the ability to build a digital customer experience based on contextual, behavioral and emotional information, used in a "learn by doing" approach.

In 2017, Neosurance was selected by Plug & Play to participate in the "InsurTech" acceleration program, and was invited to the important event of the Expo Demo Day in Silicon Valley. The presence on the news continued thanks to the Insurance Nexus IoT Europe Award and the MEDICI Top 21 - InsurTech Award.

Neosurance's path only confirms what has been certified by the Wall Street Journal, which has defined InsurTech as one of the sectors of greatest interest for venture capitalists who want to invest in innovative startups. Even in Italy, where the industry is still young, the recognition of the value of this startup shows - if still needed - the importance of the digital transformation that is revolutionizing the insurance market.

Photo by Caleb Whiting on Unsplash

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How Mobile Has Rewritten The Rules – No More Idle Micro Moments

mobile moments

A few days ago, while waiting for my turn at the post office, I have witnessed the definitive disappearance of the downtime. Do you remember how boring was to carry out some dull activities only ten years ago?

Well, we have now said goodbye to the idle moments. The smartphone is the key to unlock the potential of those moments when we have nothing to do but waiting and waiting. The queue has never been so exciting.

Mind you, we are not saying that we will not be stuck in the waiting rooms in the next future. The digital disruption has changed a lot but, at least till now, we still have to face the boredom from time to time.

What has changed is the quality of these experiences. The random unattractive magazines stacked on the table of the doctor’s waiting room have given way to the smartphone. Thus, we have the whole world in our hands.

We live in the era of the Micro Moments and no idle moments are allowed anymore. Google has tackled this important matter in a recent article published on Think With Google. The post, titled “How mobile became a power tool in idle moments”, starts from the awareness that:

“The smartphone has become indispensable in getting things done. In our latest research, we found that 75% of people say their smartphones help them to be more productive. But it’s more than that. Productivity has an emotional impact as well. Fifty-four percent of people say their phones reduce stress and/or anxiety in their lives.”

And we all know how stressful it can be to stand in line waiting for a turn that never comes.

Mobile quickly delivers results when they’re impatient, provides inspiration at their fingertips when they’re curious, and gives them a personalized experience when they’re demanding one.

Google researchers have identified five typical scenarios when people turn to their phones to fight boredom.

A SPARK

This happens, for example, when something either just pops into your head or you are triggered by something you see.

AN URGENT NEED

This happens, for example, when you suddenly realize that you need something and you don’t know where to get it.

IN-STORE ASSISTANCE

This happens, for example, when you are strolling through the store’s aisles and use the smartphone to look for info, discounts, reviews.

MICRO-PRODUCTIVITY

This happens, for example, when you are stuck somewhere and scroll the list of things to do to move forward.

PLANNING AHEAD

This happens, for example, when you use the phone to plan the next moves in your life, from weekend trips to important purchases.

This is the story from customers’ perspective. What about your Brand? What about your marketing strategy? How can you exploit these micro moments to engage your customers and win their loyalty?

We leave you with a pretty interesting video, highlighting how mobile is impacting the opportunities and challenges for Brand and marketers.

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Must-Know SEO Tricks To Improve Your Digital Presence [INFOGRAPHIC]

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SEO is dead, long live the SEO. Every now and then, the critics of search engine optimization scream their apocalyptic manifesto for a SEO-less world. You don't need optimization anymore, they say, because the engines evolve so quickly that everything you do is immediately obsolete.

Yes, the evolution of technology every year brings developments to the industry, but does this mean that you don't need to optimize anymore? The answer is clearly 'No'. You still need SEO; it's just not the SEO you were used to, as shown in the following infographic.

To quote the words of Neil Patel, New York Times best selling author and co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics:

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The Internet has gone through several iterations over the past 30 years, and while SEO tactics have certainly changed, as long as search engines exist, ranking in them will be important.

New technology may change the way we interact and explore the Internet, but search engines will always be a factor, and optimizing your information for these constantly evolving algorithms will never go out of style.

You probably know where I’m going with this article.

SEO is not dead."

New times require new means, and the new digital and mobile ecosystem requires a whole new approach to SEO. You always have to appeal two different targets - the user and the engine - but both have been deeply disrupted by that tiny (so to say) device called smartphone.

You face a new generation of customers - always connected and willing to receive information in real-time, whenever they are - and a new generation of AI-driven algorithms - they learn from their interactions with the user, and can also process real speech patterns.

Google gets over 100 billion searches a month and handles at least 2 trillion searches per year. 89 percent of customers start the buying process using a search engine. Customer experience management can not do without SEO, and if you think that being there at the right time is not relevant for your Brand, well, think again.

The metrics don't lie: The digital presence is more crucial than ever. And that means that you need to employ all those SEO tricks that will help you improve your strategy in the online and offline worlds.

If you need further proof, check the recent research from Milkwhale, first published on Entrepreneur, in the form of an enlightening, long-sighted infographic (click on the picture to enlarge).

 

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Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash

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How Customers Find Ideas And Inspiration [INFOGRAPHIC]

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What did you do the last time you had to buy something? Who did you turn to for ideas and inspiration? When was the last time you bought something without looking for opinions or reviews?

The answer to these questions leads us to the fundamental role that mobile technology plays in our daily decisions, from the most important ones to those that we would have once taken without thinking.

In the last two decades, our behaviors have changed so deeply that we hardly remember how life was before the spread of Internet-connected devices. Making decisions was a long, sometimes hard process. Customers were more thoughtful but also less reactive and aware.

Today, on the contrary, customers have all the information they need at their fingertips, readily available on the screen of the smartphone, wherever they are. More than 50% of customers use their smartphones to search for product info and decide what to buy and where to buy.

This simple fact has made them more aware and fast than ever, but also less reflective. The attention span is lower than ever (barely 8 seconds), and this behavioral changes have a huge impact on the way Brands plan and execute their marketing strategies.

According to recent research, 78% of customers searching on mobile for a local business ultimately end up making a purchase. Technology reshapes the 4Ps of traditional marketing, and the experience becomes the primary - if not the only - business differentiator.

The spread of the mobile devices, connected objects, and digital services constantly rewrites the structure of the customer journey. Today, the touchpoints we used to cross only a few years ago have lost relevance, and new ones have emerged - mainly online.

As mentioned by Google in a report about the Micro Moments, in this fast-paced and crowded ecosystem, where customers can buy whatever they want online at a lower price, you can be successful only when:

  • You are there - You must show up where and when your customers are ready to choose you.
  • You are quick - You do whatever it takes to connect with customers before your competitors.
  • You are relevant - You can deliver meaningful contents, when and where it matters most.

Today’s super-empowered consumers know they can research anything they need or want online. But while people are still searching for specific products, they are increasingly turning to search before they have even figured out what to buy. Ultimately, they are looking for ideas and inspiration.” (Think With Google)

When Google was founded in 1998, on average it was serving ten thousand search queries per day. Today, Google processes over 40 thousand search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.

The disruption of search behaviors is caused by the evolution of technology but, in return, it can also become a vector of innovation. The perfect example is the algorithm of Google’s search engine, more and more ‘inspired’ by what happens on that (not so) tiny device in the hands of customers.

Mobile platforms now account for roughly the 60% of total time spent on digital media, and more than 60% of all traffic on Google search engine comes from mobile devices. These numbers are so relevant that Google has decided to split the engine into two - desktop and mobile - with the latter becoming the most important for your business purposes.

By understanding how people are searching for ideas, brands have an opportunity to get into their consideration set. Brands can think of all the open-ended discovery moments where someone is totally open to what is out there and make themselves visible and differentiated.” (Google)

Going back to the opening questions, a good exemplification of what has changed in how shoppers find ideas and inspiration can be found in an infographic featured on Think With Google. A necessary starting point to understand how you can adapt and improve your strategy.

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Read These Essential Books And Start 2018 With Momentum

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What is the best way to jump start your new year's resolutions? Reading insightful and enlightening books, of course.
In this whirlwind of social and technological disruptions, digital leaders must focus on the continuous improvement of themselves, if they aim at improving their strategy.

We all know how important is to learn from the experiences of the others, and b
ooks can help you achieve a more profound and accurate vision of your environment, customers, and business. Here is our list - revamped for 2018 - of the essential books that will inspire you and the ones around you all year long.

We originally published this list at the end of 2015. Of course, a lot has happened in the last two years: the smartphone has definitely become our daily companion;
new technologies have taken the center stage (i.e. the Internet of Things) and old one have gained a new bright light (virtual and augmented reality).

Ultimately, the social rules have evolved and people too.
Many books have tackled the challenge of the digital disruption and its consequences on our life as human beings, customers, entrepreneurs.

To be truly effective in understanding and engaging your digital customers, you need to be willing to learn. Learning is so important, in fact, that we have included it as one of the seven steps in the DCX 7-Steps Checklist, a step-by-step guide to deliver an amazing digital customer experience.

Know yourself, know your customers, know your context. Stay current; embrace the constant flow of digital innovations; enhance the user experience at every single touch point of the customer journey.

We corssed the threshold that separates the old world (with traditional business patterns and marketing funnel) and the new world (where empowered digital customers dictate the brand agenda).

Changes happen so fast that even the most successful brands - Apple, Google, Amazon - do not rest on their laurels. Digital business is a work in progress, by definition.

The next disruption may come from unexpected places: the Internet of Things, psychographics, machine learning and predictive analytics, proximity marketing, wearable technology, cloud computing, innovative social media, virtual and augmented reality.

None will ever grow by staying closed in his comfort zone. You must confront with the best-in-class, because the only way to see the future is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Here is our updated list of the essential readings you should not miss.

THE LIFE PROJECT, HELEN PEARSON

"The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story Of 70,000 Ordinary Lives", by science journalist Helen Pearson, narrates the longest-running study of human development in the world, started in 1946 and grown to encompass five generations of children. This is the tale of these studies and the remarkable discoveries that have come from them.

PRE-SUASION, ROBERT CIALDINI

Included in the list of the best business books of 2016, "Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way To Influence And Persuade" is the latest effort by social psychologist Robert Cialdini, author of the renowned "Influence". The book explains how to capitalize the "privileged moment for change" to deliver your message in the most effective way. To change minds but also states of mind.

DISRUPTING DIGITAL BUSINESS, R “RAY” WANG

In the world where companies no longer control the conversation, they need to learn how to create an authentic experience for their customers. Digital leaders must shift from creating promises to keeping promises. In this era of social connections and constant connectivity, the experience becomes the main competitive differentiator, influencing the way brands plan and execute their strategy.

DEEP THINKING, GARRY KASPAROV

We all know Garry Kasparov as the greatest chess player of all times. With his book, titled "Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends And Human Creativity Begins", he also proves himself to be a great explorer of the artificial intelligence. The story starts in 1997 with the chess match against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue, a watershed moment in the history of technology.

THE THANK YOU ECONOMY, GARY VAYNERCHUK

The entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk proclaims, with data-driven evidence, that we have entered into a new era for business. In this one, companies need to scale their communication to a one-to-one level, no matter how big they are and how much money they invest. The best way to do it is to harness the power from social media, used as a word-of-mouth and customer experience platform.

THE TELOMERE EFFECT, ELIZABETH BLACKBURN & ELISSA EPEL

Have you wondered why some sixty-year-olds look and feel like forty-year-olds and why some forty-year-olds look and feel like sixty-year-olds? Molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery of telomeres. In this book, with the help of her colleague Elissa Epel, she highlights how the changes we can make to our daily habits can protect our telomeres and increase our health spans.

THE STARBUCKS EXPERIENCE, JOSEPH MICHELLI

Why should I pay more for an average coffee? The secret behind the 'Starbucks formula' lies in the ability to turn the ordinary into extraordinary, focusing on the overall customer experience rather than the product. If you want to understand what loyalty means in the digital era, Starbucks is your landmark brand: personalized experiences, employee engagement, omni-channel customer journey.

THE NORDSTROM WAY, ROBERT SPECTOR

Nordstrom, a very well-known retail brand, is universally recognized as one of the best examples of customer service excellence. In fact, all other companies use it as a cornerstone, aiming at becoming the “Nordstrom of their industry”. What is the secret of this enduring - even in economic turmoil - success? The direct link between empowering your employees and creating a long-term relationship with your customers.

MASTERING LEADERSHIP, ROBERT J. ANDERSON & WILLIAM A. ADAMS

Is leadership a competitive advantage, or is it just costing you in terms of time, money and personal development? Today's escalating complexity puts leadership effectiveness at a premium. Mastering Leadership involves developing the effectiveness of leaders - individually and collectively - and turning that leadership into a competitive advantage. This book aims at offering "an integrated framework for breakthrough performance and extraordinary business results".

THE CUSTOMER MANIFESTO, PAMELA HERRMANN

Let’s start with two numbers: 80 percent of businesses believe they are providing superior customer experience, yet only 8 percent of their customers agree they provide it. The disconnect is due to the fact that amazing customer experience is not the result of a program, it is the effect of a human and personal connection, across all touch points. This is where successful entrepreneurs start, to grow their business.

THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE FIASCO, ANDREW REISE

To learn the foundations of an amazing experience for customers, you must learn not just the best practices and success stories, but also the misguided adventures. Using a fictional situation, the book - written by the experts of Andrew Reise Consulting - tells the story of how you can start from a fiasco (a YouTube video, in this case) to build a successful customer experience strategy.

OUTSIDE IN, HARLEY MANNING

This book is about the power of putting customers at the center of your business. Customer experience is the most powerful - and yet misunderstood - element of corporate strategy today. Your business value is not established just by the quality of the output (your product) but also by the quality of the connection between you and your customers (the experience). Identifying and solving the problems inside your organization has the potential to increase dramatically sales and decrease costs.

I LOVE YOU MORE THAN MY DOG, JEANNE BLISS

The theory is good, case studies are even better. This book is all about true stories that can teach you how to improve your strategy. In the end, you will understand the difference between having customers who like you and customers who love you (truly, madly, deeply). Loyal and engaged customers are the key, and the author has studied tons of companies to identify the five decisions that drive extreme customer loyalty, in good times and bad.

INBOUND MARKETING, BRIAN HALLIGAN & DHARMESH SHAH

Inbound marketing is a new paradigm in the relationship with customers, a methodology that replaces interruption with communication and value creation. This book, written by the two founders of the automation platform Hubspot, gives you all introductory hints to change your content strategy and ultimately attract, convert, close and delight. Transforming your customers from complete strangers to loyal promoters.

TO SELL IS HUMAN, DANIEL PINK

If you need a fresh look at the art of selling in the age of digital disruption, this book will offer a new perspective, based on the idea that we are all salespeople. Among all other things, the author describes the six successors to the elevator pitch, the three rules for understanding another's perspective, and the five frames that can make your message clearer and more persuasive. Because, in sales, numbers matter.

Of course, there are lots of great readings we did non include in this brief list. Please, use the comments to suggest your personal favorites.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

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Travel Customer Journey – The Evolution Of Planning and Purchasing

 

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Brace Yourself; Vacation days coming!

Whether it is the summer or winter season, the desire to travel never misses the opportunity. For those who want to plan their trip, but also those who produce and sell vacation-related products and services.

The desire to explore the world has not changed over the last century, and will not change in the next future. What has evolved dramatically - in the last decade - is the way we research, plan and purchase our trips. What Google has called The Travel Customer Journey. A disruption made possible - again - by the smartphone.

Long gone are the days when planning a vacation (a honeymoon or a business trip) meant you had to trust a specialized agency, with little control over the final result. In the nineties, the Internet has opened a whole world of information for the customers, and then mobile technology did the rest, switching the balance of power definitely.

Today, the smartphone is the first point of reference whenever we need to find the solution to a problem or the product that perfectly fits our needs. Travel planning makes no exception, as perfectly summed up by a series of reports released by Google on Think With Google.

As more research happens in the traveler's customer journey, there are more micro moments - when people turn to a device with intent to answer an immediate need. In these moments, the stakes are high for travel brands as preferences are shaped, and decisions are made. What happens in these micro-moments ultimately affects the travel decision-making process.

In our times of economic constraints, organizing a vacation can be tricky business:

  • People see the travel as an investment, and so take all the time needed to research the possibilities (mostly using their mobile devices).
  • Travelers usually worry they are not finding the best solution or making the best decision, even while they are paying and booking.
  • Even when they find a last minute opportunity, most customers bounce back and forth between destinations, websites, agencies, and price comparison engines.

Customers are much more conscious and demanding than in the past. They spend more time researching and comparing the alternatives (in terms of destinations and providers). They go through a multitude of touchpoints and, even though they take quick decisions, ultimately ponder every single detail.

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If your brand plays in this industry, the task is clear and simple:

  • You must show up during the critical micro moments of travel research process;
  • You must be there, reachable whenever customers need your attention or help;
  • You must be useful, engaging them with relevant, useful, personalized contents and offers;
  • You must be quick. If you do not convert your customers, someone else will (namely a competitor).

The main reference for this article is the ‘Travel Micro-Moments Guide’ published by Google. The underlying assumption is that “travelers increasingly turn to mobile in real time and on-the-go, making informed decisions faster than ever before. For marketers, this means there are new opportunities to connect throughout the entire travel customer journey, across devices and channels.

Researchers have defined four main travel micro moments that matter:

I Want To Get Away - We explore options and ideas, looking for inspiration.

Time To Make a Plan - We have a destination, and look for dates, flights, accommodation.

Let’s Book It - We are ready to book and look for extra activities to reserve.

Can’t Wait To Explore - We prepare to live the experience, and share it with the others.

Given the premise, we see a huge opportunity for those who provide products and services related to the various the steps of the travel experience. The digital customer journey of the travelers has become more complex than ever, and so you have multiple chances to engage customers.

Whether you are an online or offline business, you may tap into one of the main micro moments or everywhere in between those, proposing suitable and innovative solutions. In example: a micro-insurance delivered on the smartphone at the right time; a local transportation mobile app filled with shopping and entertainment suggestions; a conversational interface or Facebook Messenger chatbot that helps customers find the best prices or deal.

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Of course, mobile is the keyword to understand the new scenario, because the micro moments mostly unravel online:

Recent data show that there are already more searches on mobile than desktop for select travel categories, such as family vacations and luxury travel. And when it comes to planning holiday activities, mobile devices are giving travelers increased flexibility. Many travelers are willing to plan activities on the fly, while they are at their destination.

The optimization for mobile is mandatory now that customers take faster decisions and expect faster experiences:

Over 90% of travelers using mobile devices will switch to another site or app if their needs are not being met. 79% of mobile travelers say that when researching on their smartphones, they are looking for the most relevant information available, regardless of where it comes from.

The continuous transition from the real world to the digital dimension generate a whole new set of data that you can use to get a better understanding of customers. When it comes to travels, in fact, not all customers are equal.

Also, this type of experiences is heavily influenced by the emotional and psychological traits. Data-backed psychographics research becomes essential if you want to sketch a proper customer journey map, build a successful digital strategy, and ultimately deliver truly personalized contents linked to the emotional profiles of the different customers.

Once you determine customers’ behaviors and deepest needs, you can anticipate their needs and desires. You will also be able to prioritize the right audience and target the most valuable customers with tailor-cut contents, notifications, and promotions.

Travel marketers need to account for the new multi-device, multi-channel landscape. And those who are moments-ready—and consistently manage their share of intent to meet consumer demand—will take the lion's share of the reward.

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The Digital Change Agent’s Manifesto – Revolution From Within

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How can you set the spark of the digital transformation on fire? We always stress the importance of change in the era of constant technological evolution, but more than often it is not clear who should lead this change. Who is the agent of drift towards the future?

What it means to be a successful change agent in the digital economy is the main focus of the latest report published by Brian Solis, analyst at Altimeter. The prophet from the age of Digital Darwinism has shared, once again, the opportunities and hardships of moving a Brand from the old patterns and habits.

The report has a self-evident title: “The Digital Change Agent's Manifesto - How the People Behind Digital Transformation Lead Change From Within”. It starts with the awareness that technology and society still evolve at a faster pace than organizations. Even though they are investing in their digital transformation, most Brands are often too slow.

They react rather than act and anticipate the changes. The efforts of those who become the flag bearer of transformation “are often hindered by an organizational culture that is risk-averse and slow to change. Not everyone believes in change, however, nor that they need to learn or even unlearn skills and perspectives to compete for the future. Any effort to change comes down to people, and in the absence of supportive leadership, people typically form roadblocks.” (Brian Solis)

Behind this lack of agility, there is, of course, a cultural limit that should not be underestimated, but the main obstacle can be traced in the absence of a ‘digital change agent’:

In most organizations, however, these digital transformation efforts often take place in isolated pockets, sometimes with little coordination and collaboration across the enterprise. Even still, these movements are important and often driven by individuals who share a deep expertise and passion for digital and are ardent advocates of its potential to help their companies compete more effectively. These individuals are the digital change agents and they represent the future of the organization.

The idea of a digital change agent coming from within is powerful, nonetheless difficult to identify in today’s structured organizations. Who is this agent? Where does it come from? What should be his core capabilities? There is not a simple, one-fits-all answer to these questions. The change agent, in fact, is hardly someone trained to play this role:

While change agents are well-versed in all things digital, they aren’t necessarily seasoned
or trained at navigating the cultural dynamics that drive change in an organization. They
typically pick up leadership and change-management skills on the fly as they learn to face
and manage the behavioral challenges that often prevent colleagues from accepting their
perspectives, ideas, and digital innovations.

Given the premise, it is evident that there is no one type of change agent. Each one brings to the table different skillsets, goals, and aspirations, “but they all wear similar hats at different points in their journey, serving as data gatherers and storytellers, influencers and case makers, relationship builders, and champions of digital transformation.

What are the highlights of these digital agents?

  • Although digital transformation is one of the biggest trends in business today and companies are investing heavily in new technologies and innovations, many still do so as a grassroots effort driven by resourceful individuals — digital change agents — across the organization.
  • Digital change agents are passionate about digital innovations and ardent believers in their potential to help the organization succeed — but they are sometimes reluctant to step into a leadership or change-management role.
  • Change agents can rise from anywhere in the organization and often begin as digital advocates — employees who introduce or promote new digital ideas or products — and eventually progress to experienced transformers.

digital change agent

The research shows how these agents should operate from a strategic manifesto to guide them in their digital transformation efforts, expedite change, and minimize complications and detractions. The agents move across different steps of a journey that unravels inside and outside their company:

  • Embrace being a catalyst;
  • Organize with other change agents;
  • Learn to speak the language of the C-Suite;
  • Make allies;
  • Spread digital literacy;
  • Create a digital transformation roadmap;
  • Link digital transformation efforts to business and individuals’ goals;
  • Set metrics and milestones;
  • Democratize ideation;
  • Capitalize on their own inherent “superpowers”.

As a CEO, you should always ask yourself what can you do to make the digital change agent feel less lonely. Of course, transforming and leading the organization towards the future is never easy but, when all the pieces align, there you will find the evolved digital organization you have been longing to achieve.

We strongly advise you to download The Digital Change Agent's Manifesto, a thoughtful, brilliant piece of research by Brian Solis.

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

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AWS re:Invent 2017 – Tales From The Future Of Cloud

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In the weeks leading to the AWS re:Invent 2017, we have seen many speculations about the nature of the announcements that Amazon would do during its annual event. The first few days have maintained, if not exceeded, the expectations.

There is a constant element behind all the news emerging about Amazon's Cloud: a significant shift towards the 'applications' side of the technology. Follow us as we unveil the future of Amazon Web Services and the entire Cloud world.

The general trend sees Amazon more and more focused on providing companies with technologies that increase the engagement and improve the customer experience. From this point of view, we could even dare to say that AWS is becoming more ‘customer-centric’.

This broader trend translates into a specific attention to the technologies that affect the customer behaviors online and offline (and are affected by them in return). It is easy to see that video content and AR, VR, and mixed reality have taken the center stage in the last couple of years.

Many companies are trying to take advantage of the potential of these immersive technologies, which so far have proved to be too complex and expensive for general use. The great players - Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and now Amazon - are trying to close this gap, providing affordable tools (in terms of costs and complexity) available for a broader audience.

AWS Elemental MediaConvert is the way Amazon wants to capitalize on the obsession that both customers and Brands have for video contents. The new suite, formed largely on the back of the acquisition of Elemental Technologies in 2015, is a file-based video transcoding service with broadcast-grade features:

It allows you to easily create video-on-demand (VOD) content for broadcast and multiscreen delivery at scale. The service combines advanced video and audio capabilities with a simple web services interface and pay-as-you-go pricing. With AWS Elemental MediaConvert, you can focus on delivering compelling media experiences without having to worry about the complexity of building and operating your own video processing infrastructure.

While we do not have more than the announcement right now - even though Elemental has been around for a while - there is a major strength in the proposition: the ability to create high-quality, end-to-end video processing workflows in the cloud without upfront investment for video processing infrastructure (you pay based on the duration of video that is processed and the features you use).

If you read the description carefully, you will see how Amazon is now “into competition to some extent with the likes of Google’s YouTube and its efforts to work with media companies and other creators to build and host live streams and ad-based videos. Interesting timing, given all the negative press YouTube has had over the kind of content that it’s been hosting over the years.” (TechCrunch)

The second product launched at the AWS re:Invent 2017 - this one entirely new - is called Amazon Sumerian and is, in some extent, a straightforward response to the announcements made by Mark Zuckerberg during the last Facebook’s F8 event. The topic is, of course, virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality.

Amazon Sumerian lets you create highly immersive and interactive scenes on VR, AR, and 3D applications without requiring any specialized programming or 3D graphics expertise. The scenes can then run on different hardware - Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and iOS mobile devices, while the support for Android ARCore will come soon. All this starting from the libraries of pre-built objects that make the creation effortless and less expensive.

If you look at the bigger picture, it is easy to understand where Amazon is heading: In a world where the new wave of technology has a lot of time-consuming processes behind it, Amazon aims at becoming the one who can modernize and simplify that — thereby becoming the default platform for creating applications on that new tech. Elemental and Sumerian score two points. And now the ball goes to the opponents.

For a deeper coverage live from the AWS re:Invent, you can also follow Luca Bianchi, CTO of Neosperience, on Medium.

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

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Soft Skills are the New Core Skills – and Technology Can Hire Them

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Mark Murphy, the author of Hiring For Attitude, leadership trainer and CEO of Leadership IQ, has trained companies like Microsoft and IBM. In one of his research he tracked 20,000 new hires, and found that 46% of them failed within 18 months.

Even more shocking than the failure rate was the fact that 89% of the time it happened for attitudinal problems towards work and colleagues, and only 11% for lack of expertise. The attitudinal deficits included low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation, and temperament.

In today's fluid and interpersonal workplaces, skills such listening and learning from criticism, collaborating with others, working under pressure, presenting ideas effectively, and a having a positive, flexible attitude become all vital qualities for career success.

And while studying takes us on a path towards acquiring those hard, technical skills that we need to manage our job operationally, soft skills have little to do with knowledge or expertise. They are closely linked with our character.

As a combination of social competences, communication abilities, and emotional intelligence, soft skills are the spearhead of our inner nature and a direct result of our personal inclinations, which can strengthen or weaken them.

Some personality traits, in particular, have proven to be strong predictors of career success, leading to superior performances in general people’s working lives and within different jobs.

Let’s look at two important - yet not so well-known - personality traits: Internal Locus of Control, the key to success in any work environment; Need for Closure, which can have a different impact in various job functions.

Locus of Control

Locus of Control is our tendency to believe that 'control' resides internally within us, or externally, with others or the situation.

Individuals with an internal Locus of Control (called "internals") feel that they are in charge of their life and have primary responsibility for their actions, whether they are successes or failures.

Individuals with an external Locus of Control (called "externals") tend to feel more vulnerable and view themselves as victims of circumstances, fate, luck, and the influence of other people. They are more likely to make excuses or blame other people, events, or things, rather than taking responsibilities.

Having an internal Locus of Control is a source of energy, motivation, and confidence, which represents an advantage at all levels within an organization in many areas and situations. For example:

Effective Leadership. An "internal" leader is more likely to be favored by group members. One reason is that "internals" are perceived as more influential than "externals" because they take responsibility for events, emphasizing that they can change unfavorable conditions.

Taking the Initiative. Effective managers demonstrate a strong self-efficacy and an internal Locus of Control when they take steps to circumvent obstacles, actively seek information to solve problems, and usually initiate action, rather than waiting for things to happen.

Occupational Well-being. Amongst other things, Locus of Control is found to be a strong predictor of occupational health, and 'internal' employees show higher levels of job satisfaction and lower levels of job insecurity.

Need for Closure

Need for Closure (NFC) describes people's desire for a firm answer to a question or an issue and an aversion toward ambiguity.

A person with a high NFC prefers order and predictability and, in uncertain situations, tends to seek closure urgently. In contrast, a person with a low NFC tends to tolerate more, or even to look for the fluidity of uncertain situations.

In business and management, this personality trait has significant implications. For example:

Decision Making. Employees' level of NFC can serve as a useful criterion to select decision makers in organizations, by identifying the decision-making style that fits better with a job function. People with a high NFC prefer to think about black-or-white solutions and simplified dichotomization. They are more willing to make instant decisions, whereas people with a low need for closure prefer to postpone decisions and carry out a more in-depth evaluation, even if it takes extra time.

Leadership Behavior. Experimental findings have highlighted that individual differences in the desire to reduce uncertainty affect people's leadership style. For example, supervisors that are high on NFC tend to show an autocratic leadership and a preference for 'hard power' tactics of social influence, whereas 'soft power' tactics are those that managers with a low NFC value most.

Coping with Change. Because of their desire for stability and permanence, people with a high NFC feel uncomfortable with change. They are also more resistant to changing their minds and yielding to persuasion attempts. For example, high NFC levels are associated with political conservatism, an ideology whose core definition involves resistance to change.

Personality assessments have always been a common practice amongst large companies, to identify peoples' strengths and weaknesses and help HR managers decide whether or not an employee is a good organizational fit. To this end, traditional paper-based and web-based questionnaires are still today the primary tool used by companies.

Technology, however, is changing the face of the HR world by progressively, but rapidly, automating processes on previously unimaginable scales. Today's softwares can do much more than grade multiple-choice questions to measure people's technical skills.

With natural language processing and machine learning algorithms analyzing things like keywords, intonation, and body language, it becomes possible to capture more intangible human qualities. This data can then be used to create a psychological profile that allows HR managers to predict whether a person's attitudes fit with the company’s culture, values, and desired behaviors.

For the past year, the consumer-goods giant Unilever - for which about 170,000 employees work worldwide - has been using artificial intelligence to screen all its entry-level employees, and neuroscience-based games to measure their inherent traits. The company needed to renew itself, and transforming new talent recruitment by digitizing the first steps of the hiring process was a great way to do so, says Mike Clementi, VP of human resources for North America.

More and more, it has become clear that Artificial Intelligence not only improves the work processes of employees by automating time-consuming daily tasks; it is revolutionizing the HR world at all stages. Let’s look at some of them:

Hiring Process. By scanning resumes, machine learning algorithms can do initial screenings to identify the best candidates, eliminate unqualified prospects, and then create shortlists that can be organized based on specific skills, keywords or employment history.

Training Methods. By recording how an employee is responding to an ongoing training program, AI can help HR managers to better tailor future training sessions to each worker.

Performance Evaluation. By analyzing productivity data, AI can help to measure how well an employee is performing, thus becoming a supplemental tool to management decisions.

Turnover Prediction. By analyzing employee engagement data, gathered from quantitative surveys or qualitative methods, AI can determine an employee’s level of commitment or satisfaction, and better predict if he or she is at risk of leaving. That allows HR managers to decide whether to adopt some backup retention measures or provide new growth opportunities.

There have been great strides in the HR world, since technology was usually seen simply as a tool to streamline technical procedures. A turning point comes when AI applications are increasingly expanding from specific standardized, low cognitive demand tasks, to typically human jobs, such as discovering the human side of employees, from their temporary feelings and emotions to their stable personality traits.

We cannot predict the future of HR with a 100 percent certainty, but what we can see is undoubtedly a world where technology will embrace more and more the human side of people.

Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

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