6 shifts in the use of digital platforms

by Sohini Bagchi    Jul 16, 2013

digital platforms

With digital activities growing rapidly in every sphere of life, consumers – both enterprise and end users - are changing the ways they use digital platforms today. We have already seen a clear shift happening from PCs to mobile or from voice to data and video. Similarly, mobile-phone usage has overtaken landline voice in most parts of the world. With the proliferation of newer digital devices and platforms, this shift will continue to take place and reach its maturity in the coming years, believe experts. In a recent report by McKinsey and Company, researchers examines six shifts consumers will continue to experience as far as digital platforms are concerned.

#1. Device preference: From PCs to mobile

Consumers are shifting their preferences from PCs to mobile and touch devices. About 60% of US households have smartphones, and more than 30% of US Internet-equipped households have a tablet as well. The rest of the world, especially the emerging countries are not far behind. However, this shift comes with its share of challenges. As Samit Ray, Director and CIO, PricewaterhouseCoopers notes, the tsunami of mobile devices is creating a huge information security liability, where many enterprises are not yet equipped to handle the security aspect of mobility. according to him, with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend that is not only transforming the mobility landscape but also blurring the line between business and consumer devices, CIOs should look for innovative ways to secure the mobile enterprise, ideally by creating sustainable mobile strategies.

#2. Communications: From silos to unified

The shift from voice to data and video had been profound. The McKinsey research found that over the past few years, there has been a considerable adoption of unified communications applications in the enterprise including integrated messaging, conferencing, video and IP telephony. “Mobility, cloud and social will continue to drive UC growth and adoption in the coming years, improving better decision making capabilities and enhancing collaboration and efficiency in the enterprise,” says Parminder Kaur Saini, Industry Manager, Information & Communication Technology, Frost & Sullivan, South Asia & Middle East. Going forward, with the most enterprises will realize the value to connect all their UC applications into an integrated UC framework, changing the entire communication landscape.

#3. Content: From bundled to personalized

McKinsey researchers noted content has been changing from bundled to fragmented and is becoming more personalized. They believe that powerful search tools are making content of all kinds highly accessible. The traditional bundles such as network-TV stations and newspapers have taken a backseat. The spending on new content, especially through mobile apps are on the rise. According to Narasimha Suresh, CEO & Founder, TELiBrahma, the next wave is a heightened focus on context—meaning the ability to create and deliver content that appeal to a specific audience. At the same time, companies leveraging e-Newsletters, case studies, infographics etc will see an increase in traffic.

Companies will increasingly refine their content to engage and win audiences. Going forward, there will be a heightened focus on context—meaning the ability to create and deliver content that appeals to a specific audience.
- Narasimha Suresh, CEO & Founder, TELiBrahma

#4. Social media: From networking to monetization

Social media would definitely be an integral part of discussion in the digital era. McKinsey researchers however note the shift in its usage pattern. What started off with a simple networking platform has climbed to maturity and become a source of monetization, businesses are trying to use social media as part of their marketing efforts says McKinsey researchers. However, achieving measurable returns on them is a continuing challenge. As Pritha Choudhuri, CEO - Analytics Quotient observes companies must ensure that their social media initiatives get translated into a revenue mechanism and drive profit. “In order to do so, businesses should support social media initiatives with both primary and secondary marketing research and draw a correlation. This means, social media analytics should not be seen as a standalone activity. Rather its real benefit will become evident when combined with traditional analytics forms to explore greater business value and return on investment,” she says.

#5. Video: From programmed to user driven

It is no surprise that video is huge right now in the content marketing world. Not only does it provide a more exciting, highly visual way to tell your story, but it also offers additional benefits boosting online media that make it a must-have content medium. In fact, from 2008 to 2012, video use went up by more than 330%. Consumers are shifting from the traditional “linear” TV which was more programmed to the more user-driven concepts. “Video viewing itself has become either time shifted, using digital video recorders or video on demand or device shifted on to laptop, tablet, or mobile-phone screens,” says Matt Fiorentino is the Director of marketing for Visible Measure in his blog. He believes all this has and will change the way enterprises conceptualize, plan and invest in online video in the next few years. The increase in the number of video options will pressure traditional advertising-supported business models for distributors, advertisers, and content owners.

#6. Retail: From channel to experience

Despite the tremendous growth of e-commerce, it still accounts for only about 5% of all retail sales, says the McKinsey research. As connected mobile devices proliferate, they could transform e-commerce experience. “Already, about half of all smartphone owners use their devices to conduct retail research. We expect that more consumers will use their smartphones and tablets to complete these transactions as well,” say McKinsey researchers. K Vaitheeswaran, Founder and CEO, Indiaplaza, a multi-products e-tailing site believes that in order to remain competitive e-commerce players need to integratie Web with the mobile, deliver better content and offer customised services. The combination of mobile retailing and true multichannel integration he believes will transform the buying experience and initiate the era of Retail 3.0.

According to McKinsey research, in order to benefit from this shift, companies must take a refined look at these approaches and come up with a suitable strategy. In reality, understanding and acting on the probable contours of change requires reflection and a deep knowledge of customer behavior, industry dynamics, and feedback loops. These insights can help players reshape their business models to exploit structural changes and cushion potential shocks.