The closing digital divide and other MarTech predictions for 2017

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), over two billion people are accessing the Internet through mobile devices today. Brands and marketers are quick to jump in to leverage on the unprecedented opportunity in mobile.

In fact, popular messaging app WeChat’s “red envelope” scheme experienced over eight million virtual exchanges in digital red envelopes last year – close to 800 percent growth since its launch in 2014 – replacing the age-old tradition of receiving tangible red packets. This is just an example of how digital platforms are now marketed to slowly blur the lines of physical reality.

It is a new and exciting age for brands and marketers, and as we dive deep into 2017, here is what I foresee will happen in the MarTech industry this year.

Consumers will drive digital transformation to new heights

Whenever high rates of consumer adoption meet rapid technology evolution, expectations change. We saw this clearly in 2016 when, in a survey conducted by Sitecore and Vanson Bourne, six in 10 consumers expressed a shortfall between their expectations and the experiences that brands deliver. The survey pointed out organizations are not allocating a budget on par with the level of anticipated growth, thus resulting in unsatisfied customers due to lack of personalization in online commerce.

In 2017 I’m expecting to see similar game-changing innovation cropping up across the business landscape. While Sitecore’s Vanson Bourne survey revealed that missed expectations come with such negative consequences as shared complaints and lost business, 75 percent also expressed increased loyalty when brands get it right.

As innovative brands are using technology to leapfrog old business models, consumers are voting with their wallets. That’s a big driver to get current in the coming year.

From ‘mobile first’ to ‘mobile always’

The reality is, mobile payment experiences for mobile shopping are pretty slick. Specifically, Visa PayWave is the primary payment method for over one third of Singaporeans. Ever since the likes of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay entered the market last year to compete with Alipay and WeChat Pay, consumers are presented with an even greater range of digital mobile wallets.

Our research found that 61 percent of consumers have a mobile device on and near them for an average of 10 hours per day. A whopping 84 percent say they research on their mobile device before purchasing online, with 80 percentage saying that the mobile experience is now a priority in the purchasing decision. With consumers bringing their digital world wherever they go, 2017 won’t be the year of “mobile first” but rather the year of “mobile always.”

Commerce and content will come together

With the predicted increase in mobile payment, quality of online commerce is sure to improve as a result. In previous years, consumers had to make do with sub-optimal digital platforms that were not catered to their specific needs as the content presented to them was far from the actual purchase decision.

In 2017, commerce and content will come together, opening the door for individual, contextual shopping and buying experiences that engage consumers in real-time and at scale.

Growth of AI and a marketing-driven society

Every organization has individuals crunching data and making sense of patterns in order help marketers better understand consumer behavior. They are throwing away a huge and disproportionate amount of time and money processing it.

For my final 2017 prediction, I believe we’ll see the introduction of platform-embedded artificial intelligence and machine learning. In fact, as predicted by the IDC in Singapore, 40 percent of the digital transformation initiatives will be supported by artificial intelligence capabilities by 2020. This will allow marketers to focus on what matters most – delighting customers and growing the business.

The year of the rooster might just well be another building block on our road to bridging the digital divide. And it will be interesting to observe how consumers in Singapore and the region respond to the digital transformations.

Let’s see how 2017’s digital transformation stories play out.