2016 Internet Trends Report: 5 Key Takeaways


One of the fastest ways to learn what is going on in the tech world is to read Mary Meeker’s annual report. The 2016 Internet Trends Report comes in the form of a 213 slides presentation, covering a wide range of topics from the eternal battle between iOS and Android to the emergence of new markets and customers.

Below you will find the full 2016 report. Here we will focus on five major takeaways, based on eye-opening stats and facts, that will help you better understand what lies beneath the forces of the digital transformation.

The most evident quality of Mary Meeker, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers, is the ability to provide a complete overview of the threats and opportunities that will guide the evolution of technologies, markets and organizations.

First things first: In 2016 we have reached 3 billion global Internet users. Today, 42% of the world population is online, using desktop computers or - preferably - mobile devices. The smartphone has become the first screen, the primary reference for our daily activities.

It is not all roses, however. The report records a slowing both in connectivity growth (+9% versus +9% year on year) and smartphone adoption (global smartphone shipments from 28% to 10% year on year). The biggest hurdles to the spread of technology right now are the infrastructure issues and the incentives to get online.

If we had to sum up the consequences of all trends described in the Internet report, these would be the most critical for all businesses

  • Digital customers have taken center stage, demanding new approaches and personalized contents, mobile first.
  • Digital competition has become a worldwide affair, with your fierce competitors likely coming from emerging countries.
  • Digital customer experience has replaced products as the most critical business differentiator in digital markets.

Put these trajectories together, and you will find one key rule to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation: To engage and monetize digital customers, and stay top of mind, you must deliver meaningful (contextual, innovative, personalized) customer experiences in every moment of truth.

With adoption rates going flat, the experience becomes even more important to build a distinctive presence through customer engagement. Customers’ decisions are mostly based on the expectation that they can get what they want with ease and speed, wherever they are and whatever device they are using.

When people are connected 24/7, they expect that you can assist and engage them across the entire customer journey, online and offline, on any device.


As said, the smartphone adoption growth is slowing. This is true both for iOS and Android, a sign that the market is saturating, and the emerging countries can’t compensate. Looking at a broader picture, though, there is a huge difference between the two rivals.

Meeker finds, in fact, that over the past six years iOS has seen just a 2% increase in market share, while Android has exploded from a 4% presence in the industry (2009) to 81% (2015). Projections say that this pattern is going to continue in the next years, with Android becoming the standard for digital business projects.



This is the continuation of what we have seen last year: The Internet growth is facing a steady slowing, and this time this is not due to external factors (macroeconomics trends like the financial crisis) but structural factors. The Internet needs a complete revamp, as it continues to ramp as a retail distribution channel (10% of retail sales).

The Internet of Things, messaging apps (Messenger For Business), social commerce, real-time user-generated broadcasts (Facebook Live) and artificial intelligence assistance (Chatbots) reinvent the Internet to appeal the new breed of digital customers.



We talk a lot about this new generation of customers called Millennials. While we wait for the Generation Z - those that are now less than 20 years old - to acquire purchase power, Millennials right now are your digital customers. Today, commerce is changing rapidly for this generation, and also brands need to evolve with it.

Millennials make the most powerful force on markets, with a spending power destined to rise significantly in the next 10 or 20 years. Submerged in a mobile ecosystem, they have different core values and expectations. Their behaviors help change marketing and retailing channels, together with the evolution of technology.



When technology and customer behaviors evolve, the retail industry evolves accordingly. What we face today is the strong, increasing intertwine of technology, media, and distribution, so that physical retailers become digital retailers, and digital retailers become data-optimized physical retailers.

The pervasiveness of the Internet activates the reinvention of the store (at the micro level) and the disruption of the industry (at the macro level). Products and brands are both bolstered by always-on connectivity, hyper-targeted marketing, personalization, and the power of visual.


Last but not least, we want to talk exactly about the power of visual. The 2016 report confirms that visual usage continues to rise: Video and images are way more relevant than any other content, when you want to engage digital customers. This trend will be more and more decisive when the Generation Z will be properly shaped.

Already today the online engagement translates into visual engagement (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Live, Periscope, messaging apps). This leads to an evolution in the way brands communicate and engage digital customers: New channels, new touchpoints, new advertising models.

Most important, we are moving towards a new paradigm in the human-computer interaction. A paradigm that is driven by voice. Typing text into a search bar is becoming old-fashioned. In five years, at least 50% of all searches are going to be either images or speech (Chatbots, anyone?). So we will say goodbye to the Internet as we know it.

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Mobile App Marketing – 5 Core Elements Of Successful Strategies


Everyone wants to build the next Snapchat, Uber, or Angry Birds. Developers usually assume that their app can become the next big thing because it is a solid product, with a clear value proposition and the aim to improve customer’s life. However, this is just the beginning.

Let’s face it, your app is not alone: there are now more than 2 million mobile apps available for Android, and more than 1.5 million in the Apple Store. What makes an app successful is not the fact that it has been created. It is how you can plan and execute a mobile app marketing strategy to engage and monetize customers.

First things first, why should you invest in branded app development? The answer is in one simple number: the apps now account for 86% of the time spent on mobile devices. The smartphone is the primary reference for every single activity we carry on as human beings, customers and organizations. And apps have become the core of the online environment.

The focus on marketing does not mean that a good development and the inner value of a mobile application are not important. If your app is defective, delivers a bad user experience and has a dull design, you will never stand out from the crowd. Therefore, you are doomed.

At the same time, if you do not build a strong ‘reason why’ and a distinctive essence, you would never answer the most critical questions of the mobile era. “Why should I care to download and use your app?”; “What makes it different from the thousands of alternatives out there?

We see a huge opportunity: In 2017, app downloads will hit 108 billion. We also see a huge threat: How can you be sure that your app will survive the competition?

A thoughtful app strategy has four pieces:

  • A strong value - the reason why people should download and use your app.
  • A strong development path - any release is the tipping point for the next one.
  • A continuous marketing plan - the distribution process does not end after the release.
  • A specific monetization plan - the revenue model that will sustain your efforts.

They all seem reasonable pieces, and yet only a small percentage of businesses understand how effectively mobile apps could be used to promote the brand and connect with customers. The results: apps with no value; apps that never get an update; money spent without a marketing plan; developers that have no clue how to monetize their customers.

If you do not have all the pieces in place from day one, you are destined to limp along. The innovation drives fast, and the apps as we know them now are rapidly evolving into something more complex, integrated and smart. Chatbots are the main trend now, but they only represent one of the possible evolutionary paths, together with the digital signage and the Internet of Things.

In this ever-changing scenario, do not make the mistake to cling to old beliefs. Downloads, for instance. We do not really need to remember that mobile marketing is not a matter of downloads, but too many brands still focus on the number of downloads to determine the success of their strategy.

This is the result of a misconception, born and grown when the mobile apps were still for the few, and there was not so much competition around. In today’s crowded stores, downloads might be an eye-catching vanity KPI but they rarely tell too much about the destiny of your app.

Many important companies have learned the truth the hard way that. Even when your app gets downloaded, it does not mean you are hitting the target by delivering a great customer experience:

  • The average user has 36 apps installed;
  • Only 26% of apps are used daily;
  • 25% of apps are never used;
  • 65% of customers stop using an app within three months.

These numbers mean that you need other key performance indicators to be certain that your app is ultimately working. They also tell the importance of an ‘app+ strategy “to maximize their potential to win, serve, and retain their customers in their mobile moments.” (Forrester)


Sure, there are lots of reasons why even good apps fail to deliver results (ROI, revenues, engagement), but one big reason is the lack of effective marketing. So, how do you create a strategy that puts all the pieces together? These are five core elements you should never forget.


If you build an app and you do not know what customers want, you will miss the most critical part. One-fits-all strategies do not work with mobile marketing. People determine the way brands should address them and reach them, with their habits and behaviors. Start with a question: “What do my mobile customers need?


Mobile marketing is a long-term effort. This is even more true when you are planning the launch of your mobile application. One does not simply publish the app and wait for miracles. You need to strategize your launch months before the day it actually goes live. Establish your tone of voice, priorities and messaging. The first impression matters.


What is the point of developing a great app if nobody can find it? We all understand the importance of search engine optimization to rank higher with online contents. With more than 4 million apps available, we also need to familiarize with app store optimization, to gain low-cost app visibility, increase the quality of your store page and boost conversions.


The development is done, your app is online, and your page is well optimized. You have done a good job, but the process is not over yet. Is anyone downloading and using the app? Your marketing effort must focus now on customer acquisition. What channels will you exploit to get customers? Advertising, promotional materials, social media, public relations, community management?


Distribution and promotion are critical to boosting usage. Usage on its part is essential to retaining users, keeping your app top of mind, and making your app profitable. You need to encourage social shares and set incentives to ensure that users do not forget the app: discounts and offers, mobile-only rewards, exclusive events, gamification, advanced loyalty dynamics.

With mobile device sales steadily growing all over the world, you are facing a unique opportunity to reach your customers and engage with them with meaningful experiences in every moment of truth. By focusing on mobile marketing alongside development, you can create a product that not only makes life easier for customers but also makes a profit for your company.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 5 Common Myths About App Store Optimization

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Chatbots: The Real Deal For The Future Of Customer Experience?


They live among us; they have conversations with us; they help us in many ways, and can even anticipate our dreams. Yet, they are not humans. We call them Chatbots (a.k.a. Chatterbots), and they might be the real deal for companies wanting to improve the customer experience.

We hear a lot about Chabots these days. "It is technology that is inevitable", with the very words of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Is it really? Why is everyone obsessed with bots?

First of all, what are Chatbots? Simply said, they are artificial entities designed to automate the tasks you would usually do on your own (making a dinner reservation, scheduling an appointment). Today, they are mostly used to maintain an intelligent conversation with human users, while constantly learning from the context. We have already seen them in the form of softwares (SmarterChild) and integrated assistants (Cortana, Siri). They will soon become something more.

There is no doubt that Machine Intelligence is already a major trend, one of those that will define the boundaries of business in the years to come. To quote the speech by Pedro Domingos, the author of The Master Algorithm, at the SXSW 2016: “Artificial Intelligence is not so scary as it seems when it translates into artificial smartness.

Well, Chatbots are exactly heading towards that smartness. It is the nature of things: Just like human beings evolve, as a consequence of the changes in the social and technological environments, so do bots. They become more refined and proactive right before our eyes.

Of course, some ‘futurists’ have already announced that, in the next decades, we are going to live in a dystopian nightmare where you cannot say what is human and what is not. Sure, Philip K. Dick would have gladly used a character like Microsoft’s Tay - the A.I. powered bot that has turned Twitter upside down with nazist and obscene comments.

Said that Tay is set to come back online after an accurate review and various adjustments, Microsoft’s epic fail does not indicate the failure of bots. It rather demonstrate that even the most intelligent machine needs protection against human behaviors.

While technology is neither good nor evil, engineers have a responsibility to make sure it is not designed in a way that will reflect back the worst of humanity.” (TechCrunch)

Put together virtual entities and experiments like the Scarlett Johansson robot, and you may think that we are close to fully realize what Jean Baudrillard prospected in 1981: the arrival of the third order of simulacra, where the distinction between reality and representation vanishes.



Things, of course, are quite more complex. We have learned from the success of virtual and augmented reality that the real world is not enough to fulfill the dreams and desires of digital customers. We do not go online, we live online. Every single activity we carry on in the digital world has effects on the physical reality.

Actually, computer programs which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods are not exactly newborn. Since Alan Turing introduced the renowned ‘Turing Test’ - a criterion to distinguish real humans from computers mimicking human behaviors - scientists have tried to fool the test using conversational programs.

ELIZA, created in 1966 by Joseph Weizenbaum, can be considered the first in-embryo example of an artificial intelligence able to move a conversation forward. It wasn’t really ‘smart’ but laid the foundations for the future developments, from the chatterbots that filled the chat rooms and instant messaging softwares (Windows Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger) straight to IBM’s Watson and the infamous Tay.

Bots (as we know them) date back to the dawn of the Internet era. One of the first examples was Bartender, a service which suggested drinks to its users. Then AOL’s Instant Messenger, a pioneer in the messaging services, introduced SmarterChild, an early version of a virtual assistant. And, of course, who can forget Clippy, The Office Assistant?

Moving from desktop computer to mobile devices, Chatbots have found a brand new life in the so-called personal assistants, such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and - last but not least - Google Now. These are interesting warning signs of what was about to happen.

The spread of the smartphone and mobile apps leads us to the point where Chatbots can be more than useful for simple requests. It is in the mobile ecosystem that this technology will ultimately go from a series of experiments to a real business tool.



In the time span that separates SmarterChild from Tay, chatterbots have not gone lost. They were only waiting for better days to come. Many companies have invested in the improvement of services based on artificial intelligence, trying to find a way to bridge the gap between machines and users.

It is no wonder, then, that Mark Zuckerberg has announced that the main focus for the F8 conference this year will be bots. It is the natural consequence of what the founder of Facebook already promised last year: namely, to convert Facebook Messenger from a random messaging app into a powerful business channel to improve the relationship with customers.

One important thing: Not all Chatbots are the same. Some are smart, some are not. Some are useful, some just play with you. Some work in complete autonomy, some still rely on human intervention. But the path is evident: the evolution of bots will make them smarter and totally independent.

Here lies the gap between what Facebook wants and where it is right now: MoneyPenny, the all-in-one virtual assistant, is today still powered by humans. On the contrary, Pana, an online travel agency, is an example of a bot which relies on both automation and humans, to turn text messages into bookings.


Will bots really define the future of customer experience? The idea is to create a bot that can assist, find the right answer and help customers without any external intervention. How? Using the apps to go beyond the apps as they are today.

The ultimate goal is to create something that will - finally - make customers’ life easier. Instead of wasting time switching manually from one app to the other, the user will just have to ask his question and his full time personal assistant will do the whole work.

You want to know what will be the temperature next weekend? You can ask a Chatbot and it will tell you. No need to open the browser or the weather app. In this terms, “Chatbots are the latest, greatest attempt to improve a user experience without having to hire legions of hand holding customer service operatives.

There is already a long list of ways businesses try to connect with customers; the essential difference is that Chatbots “give the human the illusion that they are communicating with an entity that understands and can generate sentences that make sense.” (Marketplace)

Chatterbots seem to set a win-win situation, both for developers and clients:

  • On the one side we have developers betting on the success of conversational marketplaces. They create new smarter bots and eventually launch selling platforms (Telegram and Kik have already launched that bots platform and store that Facebook is rumored to be building).
  • On the other side we have organizations, perfectly aware that people live online and offline at the same time. They have new tools but the same old business problem: learn how to engage and monetize their customers, delivering meaningful experiences across all channels.

Analysts think that bots might be the next evolution of making something more natural. We think they could represent an invaluable opportunity for brands (above all retail brands) to align the offline/store experience with the persistent online life of their customers.

Connect Chatbots, predictive analytics, eye-tracking and behavioral studies, and you will start to recognize the scenario. To say it with Kik's CEO Ted Livingston, "Over time where we see the killer application for bots is in the offline world."

While we wait to understand what Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon and other players have in store, we leave you with a question: Will bots eventually replace humans?

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5 Key Takeaways From SXSW 2016


SXSW Interactive is mostly known as a hub of innovation in everything digital and marketing. The 2016 edition made no exception. Every year, for an entire week, Austin is where the future happens. It is the place to be if you want to stay at the forefront of the tech world we all live in.

Between all day conference sessions, an agenda packed with meetings, and the nightlife, you come out of the event full of new business ideas and insights. Now that we are safe back home, here are the 5 most important things we have learned from SXSW 2016.

Last year, when we had to compile the report for the 2015 conference, we started by pointing out that mobile marketing and customer experience management have become the two sides of the same business coin.

This year’s edition of the South By Southwest confirmed that marketing, technology and digital customer experience are now closer than ever. So close, in fact, that you cannot even imagine:

  • A marketing strategy that does not think and act digital (and mobile) first;
  • A marketing strategy that does not start with customers and their experience;
  • A customer experience that is not influenced by smart and connected technology;
  • Tech trends that are not influenced by the evolution of society and markets;
  • Technological innovations that do not imply a deep change in how we live, buy and communicate.

Put all the pieces together and you will see a completely renewed customer journey; a complex map that moves across multiple touch points, and is not easily predictable. This suggests that the ability to engage and monetize customers in the moments of truth is the key to winning the competition for relevance.

As an example of this inextricable link, we can mention:

  • The pervasiveness of the smartphone, that has become the first reference to access online information, and is changing our purchase behaviors;
  • The spread of the wearable technology, that is forcing an evolution of the health experience, and is the primary force behind the self-tracking mania;
  • The importance of social networks, that have created a wider concept of community and human relationships, mostly lived in mobility;
  • The emergence of smart objects, that are able to communicate without human intervention, and to learn from habits and behaviors.

We have seen the breadcrumbs of this evolution in almost any keynote and panel at the Interactive week of the 2016 SXSW, with a schedule that could count on the likes of Barack Obama, Brian Solis, Brené Brown, Andy Puddicombe, Kevin Kelly, and Pedro Domingos.


We want to start with Brian Solis, an analyst that we particularly appreciate for his ability to highlight the business disruption caused by the digital transformation. In his session, “The Future of Brand, Tech & Business is Experience”, Solis stressed out the idea that ‘experience’ is not a buzzword destined to fade, but the present (and future) of branding. It is the heart of all things disrupting our world.

The experience is the X factor in the evolution of marketing, but we need to define what is exactly this variable of the equation. What makes and experience “an experience”? It is not just mere theory: “Without defining experiences, brands will become victim to whatever people feel and share.



Just like customer experience is now essential to deliver on the brand promise, the evolution of smart technology will soon set the boundaries of what we call business. Pedro Domingos, a professor of computer science at the University of Washington and the author of The Master Algorithm, talked about this topic in his keynote “The Secrets of Machine Learning Revealed”.

Artificial Intelligence is not (or, at least, should not be) so scary as it seems when it translates into “artificial smartness”. Objects learn from us, and they can teach a lot about ourselves, in return. We especially loved the description of the five tribes of machine learning - Symbolists, Connectionists, Evolutionaries, Bayesians, and Analogizers - tipping points for the rules to invent your own master algorithm.


Smart machines took the center stage also in Kevin Kelly’s keynote, titled “12 Inevitable Tech Forces That Will Shape Our Future” and based on the new book that will soon hit the shelves. Today, technology evolves at a faster pace, and there is nothing we can do about it. We will face many revolutions, and the ability to embrace the force will decide whether we survive them or not.

Much of what will happen in the next decades is independent of where we live or what we do. The evolution will be driven by tech trends that are already in motion, even though the future is often difficult to believe. Cognifying, tracking and interacting are just three of these trends; they amplify each other, they push our lives in new directions … and they are inevitable.


Actually, “Invisible Influence and Winning at SXSW 2016” looked more like a metadiscourse than a keynote. Jonah Berger, a professor at The Wharton School, tried to teach us how we could take the best from SXSW Interactive, and how it could change our life. It has been, after all, one of the most intriguing sessions of the entire week.

Based in part on the acclaimed book Invisible Influence, the speech explored the hidden forces and influences that affect every single decision we make. Yes, even how we decide to live the SXSW experience. Berger, in fact, focused on how to make our days a time to remember, how to make better choices, and how to have more fulfilling interactions and improve other people’s life.


If you think about it, any experience we live in our daily routine is partly made of technology and partly of emotions. Smart objects and revolutionary devices can improve our lives, but they cannot bring us happiness like some sort of black magic. This was the starting point for the keynote by Andy Puddicombe.

Why Happiness Is Hard and How to Make It Easier”: the title and the main question at the same time. Pubbicombe, former Buddhist monk and co-founder of Headspace, led us to an exploration of ourselves, blending science, technology, and mindfulness on a path to discover what it means to be happy and how we can tap into our creative potential. To reach a healthier life.

If you want to know more about what has happened at SXSW Interactive 2016, here are few articles that you should read:

The Top Digital Marketing Takeaways from SXSW

11 Things We Learned at SXSW 2016

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8 Disruptive Trends That’ll Shape Business In The Next Years


How will the digital customer experience evolve in the next years? What kind of technology will leave the deepest mark on customers’ life? How will this mark affect your business strategy?

Prediction is a delicate and dangerous art but, when it comes to predicting the future of customer experience, Brian Solis is a top choice. At the beginning of every year, in fact, the digital analyst takes a look at what lies ahead, trying to figure out which technology trends will lead the new wave of digital transformation.

Because it is focusing on customers, digital transformation is actually in its own way making businesses more human.” (Brian Solis)

Digital transformation is the main focus in Solis’ articles and blog posts, often connected with ‘Digital Darwinism’, one of the most important terms introduced by the author years ago. The idea is that human behaviors and technology evolve together, and businesses usually struggle to keep the pace.

When disruption happens, it always creates threats and opportunities; technology is the catalyst for the revolution of markets and society. Moreover, any technological advancement brings in the evolution of our behaviors (as human beings and customers), expectations and desires.

When you connect the dots, you realize that we have witnessed the emergence of a new generation of customers. They are empowered, demanding and submerged into a digital ecosystem. They are the digital customers.

The dawn of the digital customer is forcing a refocus towards the customer experience, and innovative companies are already working to integrate this fundamental asset into their digital strategy:

"50 percent of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations by 2017." (Gartner)

With new technologies come new behaviors, and from new behaviors inevitably derives the evolution of the customer journey, that defies standards and unravels across different digital and physical touchpoints.

Now that customers show peculiar purchase paths and behaviors, you need to assume an approach of constant innovation if you want to engage and understand them.

Competing solely on products, price or features is not sufficient to gain a competitive edge. The new rules of engagement demand that you invest and work to deliver a memorable and unique digital customer experience.

We could not agree more with Brian Solis when he says that, in this time of Digital Darwinism, you only have three choices:

  • Business as usual - a refusal or denial of evolution, that will ultimately lead to irrelevancy.
  • Business for the moment - the choice of those that wait and then follow trends and behaviors.
  • Business for the future - the proactive proposition to improve and deliver a meaningful experience.

The race to success has become a competition for relevance. This wind of digital transformation is changing priorities, even for traditional industries.

The primary reference for this article is the report titled “26 Disruptive & Technology Trends 2016 - 2018”. Brian Solis’ analysis includes socioeconomic and pure technological trends, both indissolubly correlated: technology is the main driver of social and economic disruption; at the same time, the evolution of behaviors and tastes forces tech innovation in turn.

We have chosen insights from both categories, creating our list of the top 8 disruptive trends that'll shape business in the next future.


What is the most critical element to define a successful brand? Not the product, not the legacy. Customer experience is the real brand differentiator in digital markets. The experience becomes a responsibility of the entire organization, not just a marketing tactic or a service department.


Since we have finally gone beyond the idea of sharing economy, you need to realize that the answer to customer’s demands is called ‘personalization’. The on-demand economy is based on the ability to deliver the right content when and where it matters most, across the different touch points of the customer journey.


The mobile shift has brought one major consequence: customers now live online and offline at the same time. Thus, the customer journey cannot be reduced to a linear sequence of mandatory steps. It looks like a puzzle of micro moments, mostly lived through the mediation of the smartphone. This requires a new approach to marketing and engagement.


In the mid-term, none can escape the digital transformation. Every single company must face it, and every single industry will come out of it transformed. It might seem fearsome but, if you look at the whole picture, you will see the invaluable opportunity to realign your business model around what is really important: the customer and his/her experience.


The focus on digital customer experience involves not just a business process. It implies a complete revision of your ‘modus operandi’, starting from customer’s point of view. In an increasingly automated ecosystem, customers demand a more human relationships with the brand in every moment of truth. Conversational Commerce is the result of the human algorithm of DCX.


The launch of the latest updates of Google’s search engine algorithm - exemplified by the Mobilegeddon - states a fact: the Internet is revolutionizing our life again, by simply coming out of our houses. Today, the smartphone is the main reference when customers have to decide what and where to buy, and the web has become more dynamic, personal, contextual and useful.


What is the purpose of machine learning? Is it just a matter of business efficiency and revenues? Amazon uses it to identify consumers’ preferences, but we will likely soon see an evolution in the use of intelligent machines. More than one evolution, in fact: behavioral analysis, artificial intelligence, predictive analysis, the Internet of Things, smart data.


The debate about the real value of virtual reality and augmented reality for marketing purposes is still alive, but the spread of VR devices suggests that there is still lot to explore. The entertainment industry might still be the reference market but customer experience is the most promising field. Gamification dynamics, employee engagement, loyalty programs are just few examples.

Here is the original SlideShare presentation by Brian Solis, if you want to know more about the topic.

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Gartner’s Top 10 Technology Trends for 2016 To Improve Your Business

"My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there." (C.F. Kettering)

What technologies will impact organizations from 2016 on? As the end of year approaches, it is natural to look back at the highlights of the past. If you are an innovative digital leader, though, you will agree that it is way more useful to look ahead and try to foresee what is going to happen next.

That is exactly what Gartner’s analysts do every year, tracing the main technology trends that will define the borders of business transformation for the next future. As usual in the digital era, evolution is all about disruption.

First of all, what kind of trends should be considered in this list? Gartner defines a strategic technology trend as “one with the potential for significant impact on the organization. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to the business, end users or IT, the need for a major investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.

These technologies are very different but they share a common trait: they impact the company's long-term development plans, customer experience programs and marketing initiatives.

Last year, in this very same period, we were discussing the 2015 release of Gartner’s technology report. The innovative trends traced could be divided into three major areas of interest:

  • The merging of the real and virtual worlds;
  • The advent of intelligence everywhere;
  • The technology impact of the digital business shift.

Some trends were already evident at the time of the release, others were still in nuce or ready to explode. In a customer’s perspective, all of them had the potential to change forever the way companies define their digital customer experience and build meaningful connections.

Of course, one year is not enough to show the real potential of complex disruptive devices (i.e. this is the case of context-rich systems, the Internet of Things and smart machines). To some extent, the real effects will be fully displayed in the next five years or so. If you want to know more, just take a look at our in-depth analysis.

Now it is time to focus on the newly-released report about Gartner’s Top 10 Technology Trends for 2016. In the words of David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow:

"Gartner's top 10 strategic technology trends will shape digital business opportunities through 2020. The first three trends address merging the physical and virtual worlds and the emergence of the digital mesh. While organizations focus on digital business today, algorithmic business is emerging. Algorithms — relationships and interconnections — define the future of business. In algorithmic business, much happens in the background in which people are not directly involved. This is enabled by smart machines, which our next three trends address. Our final four trends address the new IT reality, the new architecture and platform trends needed to support digital and algorithmic business."

You may not implement all of them at the same rate but one thing is for sure: you will have to make decisions about them during 2016, if you want to improve your customer experience strategy and - as a result - strengthen the relationship with your customers.


In the mobile era, customers live submerged in an ever-connected ecosystem, shaped by different mobile technologies. The device mesh refers to this expanding set of endpoints used to access information or interact with people and brands. Today, a successful business strategy is not even conceivable without all these devices, more and more able to communicate with each other: smartphone, wearables, smartwatch, smart TV, domotics, connected cars, iBeacons, the Internet of Things.


Digital technologies delete the limits of physical existence, pushing the experience to a whole new level. Virtual reality - and augmented reality - become the perfect companion for companies to deliver immersive experiences, and engage customers emotionally. Delivering the brand values in the process. The ambient user experience preserves continuity, and the experience seamlessly flows across a shifting set of devices and interaction channels as the user moves from physical to virtual.


3D printing was already in last year’s list but, from 2016, it will become more affordable and various. Advances will enable 3D printing to use a wide range of materials, and 3D printing will find its way in different industries, with practical applications including aerospace, medical, automotive, energy and the military. We will witness an annual growth rate of 64.1 percent for enterprise 3D-printer shipments through 2019, claiming space in your budgets and investments.


Everything in the digital mesh produces, uses and transmits information. This information goes beyond textual, audio and video information to include sensory and contextual information.” The real problem, then, is to make sense of all data, in order to extract useful insights that will lead to the renovation of your strategy. Information of everything addresses this influx with strategies and technologies to link data from all these different data sources.


The future of business lies in the adoption of smart and connected tools, able to autonomously learn and - in a retail perspective - predict customer behaviors. “In advanced machine learning, deep neural nets (DNNs) move beyond classic computing and information management to create systems that can learn to perceive the world, on their own. DNNs enable hardware - or software-based machines to learn for themselves all the features in their environment, from the finest details to broad sweeping abstract classes of content.


The creation of a meaningful connection between a brand and customers passes through the connection between people and smart machines (physical and virtual). “Machine learning gives rise to a spectrum of smart machine implementations - including robots, autonomous vehicles, virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and smart advisors. While advances in physical smart machines such as robots get a great deal of attention, the software-based smart machines have a more near-term and broader impact.” Just think about Google Now, Microsoft's Cortana and Apple's Siri.


Security is the keyword for an evolution without pitfalls. Data security and infrastructure security. “The complexities of digital business and the algorithmic economy combined with an emerging hacker industry significantly increase the threat surface for an organization. IT leaders must focus on detecting and responding to threats, as well as more traditional blocking and other measures to prevent attacks. Application self-protection, as well as user and entity behavior analytics, will help fulfill the adaptive security architecture.


The combination of ever-connected customers and communicating machines represent the foundations of digital disruption. A huge challenge for all businesses, that will have to adapt values, strategies and architectures. “Providing this required boost are high-powered and ultraefficient neuromorphic architectures. Fueled by field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) as an underlining technology for neuromorphic architectures, there are significant gains to this architecture, such as being able to run at speeds of greater than a teraflop with high-energy efficiency.


All companies willing to develop a mobile app will have to face a critical change of perspective, from linear application designs to a more loosely coupled integrative approach, focused on Web-scale performance, flexibility and agility: the apps and services architecture. “Microservice architecture is an emerging pattern for building distributed applications that support agile delivery and scalable deployment, both on-premises and in the cloud. Bringing mobile and IoT elements into the app and service architecture creates a comprehensive model to address back-end cloud scalability and front-end device mesh experiences.


We are surrounded by increasingly intelligent devices and objects able to talk to each other without human intervention. The Internet of Things is the final frontier in connecting users’ entire physical life to the digital world, a further step in the evolution started by mobile devices. “IoT platforms complement the mesh app and service architecture. The management, security, integration and other technologies and standards of the IoT platform are the base set of capabilities for building, managing and securing elements in the IoT.


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To help you ensure a strategic advantage to your organization, learn about the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.

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These 3 Top Digital Trends Will Change Your Retail Marketing Strategy


At first glance, the fundamentals of retail business have not changed so much in the last fifty years. Someone sells products/services, and someone makes a purchase. If you have a closer look, though, you will see how deeply everything has changed.

We have witnessed a revolution - made possible by disruptive technologies that blur the distinction between the physical and digital world. Moreover, the journey is far from being finished. Major digital trends push to change retail industry even more deeply, from 2015 on.

Arguably, the pace of this evolution will increase in the next years, driven by the spread of mobile devices and the adoption of smart objects, namely the Internet of Things. The input (products) and the output (conversion) will still be the same, but all that is in the middle is completely different: the customer journey that connects brands and customers.

One debate is about the future of shopping. It is pretty obvious that the retail customer experience, shaken by technology, is destined to change, and it is already transforming. However, what kind of evolution will we face?

Retailers are living in a moment of transition, somewhat stuck between traditional store patterns and their digital transformation. Customers, for their part, show no doubt in embracing the new world shaped by constant connectivity and segmented by the rhythm of the smartphone.

In 2015, customer expectations have reached new heights when it comes to shopping across channels and devices. We are running towards a day when we can assume “100 percent of shoppers will be connected 100 percent of the time.” (Deloitte Digital).

Given the premises, a one-sided approach to retail strategy is not inadequate to face the real challenge of our times. In other words, attract and engage customers that live online and can choose from a (potentially) infinite set of suppliers with a tap.

When we say that an omni-channel approach (with a mobile-first vision) is the only viable strategy, we are saying the obvious. However, the obvious seems to be still a challenge for too many retailers.

To bridge the smartphone with the shelves, you need to craft a truly digital customer journey, rather than continue to consider e-commerce, proximity marketing, behavioral targeting and the physical store as different tools.

Most of all, you need to keep your eyes wide open to trace the seeds of evolution before your competitors do; ready to adopt inventions that revolutionize and strengthen your retail customer experience.

At the start of this year, Google shared - on its think-tank website Think With Google - an article that described seven key digital trends for retail technology:

  1. Seamless touchpoints - Customer’s life can be divided into micro-moments, mostly spent on connected devices. Retailers need to preside all touch points of the customer journey, to allow clients to move seamlessly between devices.

  1. Borderless retail - Commerce has no geographical borders anymore. Thanks to the Internet and E-Commerce, your competitor is not just your neighbor. Competition is a worldwide game: a threat but also a huge opportunity.

  1. WWW Delivery - WWW now stands for ‘what I want, when I want, where I want it’. Customers demand that you can fulfill their needs in real-time, on any device and across all channels. Retail goes way beyond the four wall of the store.

  1. Personalization - When commerce becomes ‘me-commerce’, retailers must learn to analyze mobile data and recognize customer behavior, to deliver personalized experience, and tailor-cut offers and discounts.

  1. Service and experience - While the product is still the purpose of shopping, there is another critical element that you should never forget. The experience. The ‘how’ has become (at least) as important as the ‘what’.

  1. Store revolution - Even with the competition of online firms, the traditional store will not disappear anytime soon. It will evolve, however. Retail spaces will get from places of transactions to places of experience, to showcase products and engage consumers.

  1. Social commerce - Social platforms are essential to connect with customers, and the advent of social commerce was unavoidable. The challenge for your brand is to show up in the social feed with the right content at the right moment.

This is what Google predicted months ago. Some trends have become a factor in retail marketing strategy, some will come soon, others will probably fade away like meteors.

Now that we are in the middle of the race, it is interesting to see how far have these trends took shape, and what other trends are taking shape on the horizon. While we recognize the value of the seven trends listed by Google, we want to add three more digital trends that will play an important role in the retail experience of the future.


Two figures show the value of millennial customers: By 2020, roughly one-quarter of customers will have been born after 1980; their purchasing power will rise to 1.4 billion dollars spent every year. Well informed, always connected and willing to spend, millennials are the most powerful force in Western economies and require a renewed retail customer experience.


The pervasiveness of the technology produces a huge amount of data that companies can scan and analyze to understand their customers. Predictive analytics makes it possible to study customer behavior, and identify patterns to anticipate needs and wants, starting from previous actions and habits. If employed in correlation with machine learning, the predictive analysis may finally give a purpose to the Big data buzz.


As a direct consequence of the previous point, technology rewrites the rules of customer engagement, reinventing loyalty in the name of behavioral targeting. Proximity marketing will raise to a whole new level, stepping from generic push notifications to one-to-one communication. Mobile app development will stop being a simple ‘addendum’ to become the ultimate key to customer’s heart.

It is clear that only by opting for a digital perspective will retailers maintain and grow in the face of technological (and social) disruption.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 10 Inventions That Will Revolutionize Retail Customer Experience

To help you provide a strategic advantage to your organization, Neosperience has crafted the first DCX 7-Steps Checklist, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. Download the free guide here:
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Microservices on Amazon Web Services – Event Agenda

Microservices on Amazon Web Services: this is the main topic of the first workshop on microservices architectures based on AWS services, organized by Neosperience in partnership with Amazon Web Services and Zero12.

The event is co-organized and hosted by the Politecnico di Milano, as part of the European project PEGASO - Fit 4 Future. It is not just a technical meeting, but also an important opportunity for experts and managers to discuss and analyze a critical topic in the age of digital disruption. The event is scheduled for Thursday, May 14th 2015.

The workshop aims at examining in depth the microservices architectures, with regard to the role of database as decoupling factor. This specific topic will be analyzed depicting scenarios that include Amazon DynamoDb (NOSQL), RDS (Relational) and MongoDb (NOSQL).

Dario Melpignano, CEO of Neosperience, will open the conference presenting the agenda and summing up the topics that will be discussed during the day. Ian Meyers will represent Amazon Web Services as Principal Solutions Architect, specialized in Big Data and High Performance Computing.

The workshop will report real use-cases including PEGASO – Fit 4 Future, the European research project that aims at promoting a sustainable change towards healthy lifestyles for teenagers, along with the technical elements and best practices to offer both a business and technical context that will describe integrations and designs, to explore different approaches to software architectures and Big Data analysis.

Here's the detailed schedule of the day:

09.30 – 10.00 Registration

10.00 – 10.15 Welcome message and presentation of the agenda (Dario Melpignano, CEO of Neosperience)

10.15 – 10.30 POLIMI and AWS

10.30 – 11.00 Introduction to Microservices on AWS

11.00 – 11.30 Break

11.30 – 12.30 Microservices with Amazon RDS (Neosperience)

12:30 – 13:30 Break (lunch)

13:30 – 14:30 DynamoDb: in-depth analysis

14:30 – 15:30 Integration between MongoDB and AWS (Zero12)

15:30 – 16:00 Break

16:00 – 16:30 Big Data architectures on AWS

16.30 – 17.00 Q&A

Participation to the event is open and free, but subject to registration. 

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The Digital Customer Experience In The Age of Machine Learning


The Digital Revolution has forged historic change. When we engage with the Internet with our smartphone, tablet or wearable, we don't see its physical infrastructure nor the code that lets it function.

We interact with the “whatever branded content we like, by pressing the elevator buttons without having to know how it works.” No one person or organization is in charge of the changes sweeping the world.

In this historically unprecedented, ongoing event, “hundreds of millions of people” collectively create the Internet and its contents. And when it comes to brands, from this collective behavior the Digital Customer Experience takes shape.

According to most observers, as early as 2025, most of the world will be connected digitally. Connections will become faster, cheaper and more functional. Everyone will have access to digital tools. “Global connectivity” will challenge existing hierarchies, forcing institutions to adapt.

In this scenario, starting as early as of today, computers can now teach themselves, and machines’ capabilities are beginning to surpass human potential.

The Age of Machine Learning will present a wealth of opportunities but the change will be enormously disruptive.

Programming a computer to execute a task used to require writing code that told the machine in minute detail what to do at each step, and you couldn’t develop a machine to do something you didn’t know how to do yourself. But in 1956, IT engineer Arthur Samuel “taught” a computer to win at checkers by programming it to play against itself.

The computer mastered the game and even beat the Connecticut state-level checkers champion in 1962. This just happened decades before Deep Blue won over chess champion Garry Kasparov: Samuel had invented machine learning.

Today, Google’s search algorithm is a famous example of machine learning.

Amazon uses a machine-learning algorithm to identify consumers’ preferences in order to suggest new products.

Machine learning is evolving rapidly. In 2012, computer scientist Geoffrey Hinton and his team developed a “deep-learning” algorithm to discover new drugs.

Moving forward into it, deep learning mimics the way the human brain works. By feeding data to the algorithm and allowing it time to compute, it can continually improve. Amazingly, none of Hinton’s team members had expertise in the life sciences. Deep learning has enabled computers to teach themselves to listen, see, read and write.

Software developers have built a speech-recognition applications that can listen to a person speaking English and articulate a translation in Chinese in close to real time. They also developed image-recognition algorithms that can identify objects in pictures with a better success rate than most humans achieve.

Stanford programmers developed an algorithm whereby a computer can teach itself to write a text description of an image that the device has never before encountered. Each of these functions has approached or surpassed human capabilities.

In the Industrial Revolution there was social disruption, but once engines were used to generate power in all situations, things really settled down.

But in the Digital Revolution, the disruption is much more relevant because it might never settle down.

80% of employment in the developed world has already been disrupted by computers that have just learned how to do: the things that humans spend most of their time being paid to do.

If you are in this 80%, just hope your boss doesn’t realize it too soon, and use time wisely to move quickly from this risky position.

Machine learning and deep learning have exciting potential. For example, an algorithm to aid pathologists has found that the cells around a tumor are as critical as the tumor itself when reaching a diagnosis. One machine learning team developed a system to identify areas of cancerous tissue under a microscope. The system now can execute this task as accurately as a pathologist can. Such technology, still in its infancy, promises to transcend human potential.

Alas, a large proportion of the world’s jobs is in services that machines have already taught themselves to perform. The machine-learning revolution will instigate turmoil that will never abate, so we must keep on learning to prepare for the imminent social and economic upheaval.

In the context of DCX, Neosperience’s Right-Time Personalization module in example can now leverage the same technology used for years by Amazon’s internal data scientist community: services that use powerful algorithms to create machine learning models by finding patterns in your existing data. Then, machine learning uses these models to process new data and generate predictions for your application.

Another technology we are currently investigating within our R&D is IBM Watson. Big Blue’s analytics platform, the one that famously won a Jeopardy showdown. Initial outcomes show lots of potential for delivering analytics insights to a raft of different organization and industries.

Whatever the technology and the technological partner you choose, machine learning will boost digital customer experience so that virtual and physical civilizations will affect and shape each other; the balance they strike will come to define our world tomorrow. And I really mean it.

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If you want to ensure a strategic advantage to your organization, discover Neosperience Engage, the end-to-end mobile marketing solution to help brands engage with customers by delivering personalized experiences to customers close to, or inside the store.

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