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With more than 100 people in the audience, Jerry Filipiak, CEO of Comarch Inc., delivered a powerful presentation at GSummit 2014. Filipiak detailed the importance of real-time engagement, sharing the results of an implementation with JetBlue before giving the audience insight as to how Internet of Things (IoT) technology stands to change the future of loyalty and engagement.
Context is Key
When developing TrueBlue Badges, a social-engagement extension of JetBlue’s loyalty program, JetBlue wanted a tool to connect to its members and promote its brand in social channels. Contextual communication was most important for JetBlue, as the airline wanted to make sure that its members were truly engaged and delivered a unique experience.
“Context is key,” said Filipiak. “The more context you put in front of users, the more engaged they will be.”
The emphasis on context is apparent when examining the Badges program. The main feature of member profiles is an interactive map that contextualizes the personal journeys of each user by keeping track of where they’ve traveled, what destinations have earned them badges and how their progress matches up with the ranks of others. When users share their Badges progress in social media – which they are encouraged to do, with the incentive of badges and extra points – a real-time picture of their own unique map is automatically sent along with a link to their profile, further showcasing the contextual engagement of the program.
Revenue-based Social Engagement
All brands are concerned with social interaction, and all brands want to see that they’re being discussed within social networks. However, measuring how social activity directly converts to revenue can be quite difficult, if not impossible. With Badges in place, JetBlue is able to accurately measure conversions that stem from social sharing.
Each time a Badges member socially shares their progress, they are not only working toward points and badges, but also promoting the overall program and encouraging others to join. “It’s free advertising for your program,” Filipiak explained. “It’s like using sponsored ads, but you don’t have to pay a dime for it.”
When other members click through the links or interact with a Badges social post in any way, JetBlue is able to track the analytics in real time. This allow the airline to develop rich user profiles – both for existing members of the program and those that have yet to join – and determine exactly where and when digital conversions are taking place. As a result, a dollar value is essentially assigned to each person interacting with the Badges program.
IoT: Digitizing the Real World
Having already created real-time transaction analytics for social engagement, the next step is changing location-based activities into measurable conversions – and Internet of Things makes that possible. “Digitizing the real world,” as Filipiak describes it, is a natural progression for Comarch. He revealed that his company has committed to integrating IoT with its solutions and is currently developing beacon prototypes.
Beacons are small instruments that use BLE (Bluetooth low energy) technology to trigger personalized communications and calls to action. When equipped mobile devices come within a certain distance of the beacons, unique interactions manifest in real time, delivering virtually anything to the devices. Based on how these communications are acted upon by users, complex data is extracted, providing businesses with unprecedented insight into consumer engagement, purchase intent, conversion and spend in location-based settings.
Just as most brands know that social interaction with their customer base is important yet find measuring social conversions difficult, location-based engagement suffers from the same problem. Filipiak elaborated: “On a busy street, signs can catch the attention of people walking by and draw them into the store. They probably lead to some conversions, but there’s no way to determine exactly how many people saw the signs, went into the store and bought something as a result . . . beacons can track everything.”
Adoption of IoT
Although Comarch’s IoT offering will debut by the end of 2014, Filipiak feels that widespread acceptance of the technology is still about two years away.
“Having people’s devices suddenly start communicating directly with them and sharing unique, relevant content might freak them out,” he laughed. “Instead, it is important to gently transition the technology into people’s everyday lives and get them used to the fact that their devices can now ‘talk,’ something that wasn’t previously possible.”
However, once customers and some large-name brands are on board, IoT has the power to revolutionize customer engagement and loyalty programs. Sharing a vision for a modern airline loyalty program, Filipiak demonstrated how beacons could be used to guide members through an airport: routing them to their terminals, suggesting food and shopping deals along the way, and rewarding them for completing certain actions based on their location.
The loyalty industry will soon start to experience the capabilities and effects of IoT, which according to an IDC study, is expected to be valued at over $7 trillion worldwide by 2020.