Ethics In User Experience Design – Usability Geek

Ethics In User Experience Design

Professional ethics exists in various fields, but how does it manifest itself in user experience design? What can be done to provide users with products that put their interests up front, and how do brands do it?

User experience design is a term that has many different layers. Those who practice it are paving the way for users to interact with a product. Decisions are based on this fact. Some decisions may result in a limitation of the users’ actions or doing things that the user would not necessarily choose.

The area of ethics in user experience design lies on a scale that ranges from providing complete freedom for users, up to making all the decisions for them.

As a part of our daily routine, user experience designers “hack” into the thought patterns of their users. When they succeed, it very likely results in the success of the product itself. The process starts by choosing which options are available, while limiting personalization capabilities. It continues through stages where the flow dictates the user’s actions using learning steps, reaching the point where the system benefits from predicting behavioural patterns.

I would define an ethical challenge as the moment when the line of making seemingly-motiveless decisions that serve the interests of the system over those of the user, is crossed.

Why should we care at all? Well, if we are the ones who plan the processes and make the decisions, these are topics that ought to be addressed from a professional standpoint. No one would like to be labelled as the creator of an app that makes its users feel uncomfortable to interact with. For company owners, it is even more significant. Users today have a developed sense of critique. They voluntarily leave reviews in app stores, use stars to rate, invest time in conversations about the product/service, etc. You would probably like to avoid a PR crisis or a product failure which originated from poor planning, especially when it is relatively easy to prevent by putting your mind to it and gaining trust.

What Do Ethics Have to do with User Experience Design?

Every project requires planning from scratch, and no axiomatic assumptions should be made. Even if something proved effective for one target audience, it does not mean that the same process would work again for a different set of users.

Depending on the project, you are at liberty of taking a number of decisions. For example, you can decide how limiting the onboarding process would be or whether or not you should gamify the process that is leading to a review prompt. You can choose what data to display and what to hide (ideally, basing this on research results). You can decide what should be animated so as to create an emotion before making a decision. These are just some of the various decisions you can take for the benefit of the product. Such decisions have crucial importance for a product since manipulation attempts will very likely irritate users and cause them to leave, or close their account and delete the app. In three words: “that escalated quickly”, and in four: “influencing the user’s opinion”. Users usually make up their minds and accumulate a sense of comfort towards your product faster than you might think.

Ethics in user experience design is not a binding rule, but rather a collection of professional tips that would help you improve your product for your target users. The goal of this article is to create understanding and familiarity with this concept in various applications, so you could group these hunches with your common sense, beginning with your current projects.

Occasionally, while working, I find myself asking ethical questions regarding micro-actions and processes regarding registration, requests for permissions, monetizations and more. For each project, I consider what is the best solution. After collecting several solid ideas, I am sharing with you some of the dilemmas and the solutions I have found. I hope that you would benefit from that, regardless if you are the UX researcher, the product manager or even the CEO.

Recently, for example, I have noticed that Waze’s “Go Invisible” option was bumped up the menu. Waze stresses the social aspect of their app (traffic reports, chatter, seeing friends on the move, even carpool), and yet, they chose to put this option up front. This seemingly opposes their general philosophy. I assume they faced a choice between wanting to showcase active audience in a social network of drivers, and the freedom the drivers have to become invisible, and the latter won.

True, the notion is anything but new in social media apps, from Skype to the happy days of ICQ, we could do the ingenious action of being connected without being seen. Since then, in my opinion, values that deal with the users’ benefits (such as the need for privacy) have triumphed over the social/commercial need.

See the wisdom behind this. In such cases, potential users who would otherwise hesitate about trying the product, feel less threatened and more inclined to try it out. I assume that if Waze were not offering the option to disappear, the abandonment rate would go up or at least several users would consider the app nosey. So, flexibility towards the user’s needs can prove beneficial. Also, allowing users to choose the level of data access permissions, or not requiring many from the start, would allow more untrusting users on the bandwagon – people who are not feeling forced. In other words, users who object sharing personal data would try your product too. Therefore, a system that allows new and curious users to operate in an “unregistered” mode wins.

Every Product and its Ethical Questions

It is not always obvious, so, if you have any suspicion or ethical challenge during the creation of a flow for example, just put the question through the following filter: in a conflict of interests, do the user’s interests win? Meaning, no wasting time, no invasion of personal privacy, no unnecessary limitations and so on.

Can you answer that? Great! You are halfway there.

On one hand, multiple options = freedom to act

In the blue corner of the ring, we are placing the liberal principles of providing maximum personalization options and complete freedom. We expect the user to adjust the parameters however he/she sees fit. Here, all the questions are asked, all the possibilities are presented, and users are free to do as they please. Thus, they claim responsibility for their actions, whereas we, the designers of the system, are presenting the full scale of the system in the easiest and clearest way we can arrange the interface. In such cases, the user is expected to waste much time, as at any moment it is possible to backtrack and change parameters, settings and whatnot. Tinkering with the system itself can be never-ending.

Freedom is the main benefit, and the stage is set for the user, with maximum assistance for every action they might want to perform.

On the other hand, limiting the user = preventing errors

On the opposing red corner, find principles of conservatism and wrapping up the user. Here, we will not assume the user comprehends the entire gravity of their choices. We will ask as few questions as we can, with most choices being pre-made. In such cases, it is common to see a closed circuit of onboarding/tutorial that showcases the options, allowing the user to confirm only the most crucial choices (while being asked just once). Here, we strive to get the system as foolproof as we can. Consecutively, the interface would be linear, reduced and efficient, while guiding the user into performing specific actions without having to mess around with the system. Some might say that this is the optimal experience and the manifestation of respect to the user’s time.

This scenario is very much similar to how in the iOS interface, the “closeness” of elements allows the planning of streamlined processes, thus making the experience more consistent.

How much emphasis to bestow unto each approach

In reality, things are not black and white (…but rather, red and blue). Let me explain.

Let us take a banking app. Depositing a cheque would require the app to walk the user hand in hand, confirm multiple times while checking the balance and should not require any specific assistance. Meaning: when facing an action with significant consequences, where no mistakes are allowed, we need to lead our users, while confirming the understanding of each step and pacing by them.

Alternatively, think of states in which you have no direct control over, let us say, Gmail’s or Google Docs autosave features at intervals. Changes are saved automatically, sometimes allowing you to view the drafts or change history. As opposed to the banking app, there is no escorting. The decision has been made for you. Even if you are an above-average user, you cannot choose when to auto-save. Any negative implications for auto-saving? Virtually none.

Have you ever thought about the question “should your credit card details be saved for future purchases?” and whether it is toggled by default? (Hint: if it is on, someone has been relying on the statistic that a user would refrain from doing any additional action he/she is not sure about). Even though it might be easier not to retype the details, the system designer, in this case, is willing to compromise the data and to a certain degree, this decision is being taken in the light that it is in the system’s interests). The default might tell you, as users, a great deal about the intentions of the system’s planners.

Using passwords: A problematic topic from its very core, passwords are tough to remember and to type them cumbersome. However, the system is still expected to do whatever is possible to keep the account, data and password safe. Sometimes, the experience would be “educating” to the point of frustration: “you should use at least eight characters, one capital letter, digit and special symbol at the very least”. True story. In such situations, try to think of an action that would be a reasonable compromise for the user that would save future attempts to reset forgotten passwords. Example? Social login (Google/Facebook/Twitter), external confirmation (email/SMS), or even providing a little “life hack” to your users on how to remember passwords. The system loves me!

Newsletter registration: It is quite obvious that whoever builds a registration form is interested that users would sign up. On the other hand, as users ourselves, most of us can attest the problems in newsletters. You have been participating in a conversation online, and the next thing you know, you are getting a newsletter, ads and notifications of new posts without explicitly opting. So, should we pre-check opt-in checkboxes or not?

Social networks: If we think of Facebook’s default settings for a moment, when commenting, unless set otherwise, you will be notified of every new comment. It is true that it is useful (to keep track of the conversation), but there is no ignoring the fact that Facebook benefits from you returning over and over to check your notifications. The fear of missing out (or being left out, in this case) can become addicting eventually. I am quite certain that they have considered the number of notifications to walk the fine line between being informative and wasting time.

A recent feature has been introduced on Facebook. Besides (not instead) the notifications we are used to seeing, comments on someone’s wall post pop up in a seemingly “chat window”, next to the “regular” chats. For example, if I have congratulated someone, and they thanked me, it pops in the form of a conversation window, encouraging me to keep the conversation going (take note – publicly). For Facebook, it is close to a magical feature. A small change in a familiar pattern, yet one that increases user engagement. You are used to seeing private chats appear this way, so the primary instinct would be to divert attention there and keep on chatting.

There is no debate over the fact that if you want any product to survive, one major long-term goal is always to make the users come back and act over and over again. That being said, users who feel burdened by distractions demanded by less-important visuals would probably be irritated when being forced to divert their attention.

To summarise this part: The dilemmas grow more and more significant when the actions become more “critical”. As mentioned, when money can be accessed (PayPal, or apps that allow purchases and money transfers), it is advisable to make the process slightly longer to eliminate mistakes, even though it might be tempting to design a system that “compels” the user to make such an action quickly. We, as the experience planners, can make such choices. Everyone is rooting for ease of access and lightness of processes. Still, you might not want to be held responsible for making an instant loan request process too easy and impulsive, even though it might make the financial institution that provides the loan euphoric.

Guidelines to Resolve Ethical Dilemmas in UX Design

I have compiled seven guidelines that would help your users benefit from your choices, and I hope it might help you when making decisions:

1. Foolproof it

Even when that means “taking the wheel”. If the user is clearly heading for an action they might regret, plan ahead and prevent it. Think about the scenario of a highlighted save button when attempting to close an unsaved document. It is like stating: “We understand that you might regret leaving now, so, at the very least, we would like to show you the action you are assumed to prefer”. In most cases, this action should reversible.

2. Be the good guys and girls!

As a typical user, what would you expect to happen? Would you like to be signed in automatically to the mailing list? Would you like to see a summary before wiring money away to an account you have never wired money to before? Would you trust the app to have access to your personal and/or social media accounts? In such cases, keeping the best interests of the average user is probably the correct answer.

3. Yeah, science!

There are dozens of tools that allow you to conduct research. Whether it is a data analysis or the creation of an alternative page/site/app/feature, use real data to reach conclusions regarding the things your users prefer and how they react. The average developer should be able to tweak a simple form in moments, allowing you to see if the existence of a particular field affects conversion. So get it checked where doubt exists.

4. Correct data hierarchy

It is advisable to avoid any difficulty in accessing options the system is advertised to provide and making the user waste time in vain. Windows 10 users, for example, you are welcome to see whether it is easy to change the screen resolution as it used to be in previous versions.

5. Do not fear change

Even after a decision has been made, there is no reason to feel too attached to it. Gather feedback, take it into account, reply to your users and remember that the ones who bother to complain are those that are inclined to like your product. They are the users who invest the time to provide feedback. Also, you can always leverage a flow change for a new version upload that would benefit your PR.

6. Read the room

Nowadays it is safe to say that every product has a market share that used to (or expects) a certain user experience. Get to know the patterns and the audience. In case you have chosen to provide more options for a more advanced user base while giving up a bit of “streamline”-ness, make sure you understand tip #4. Alternatively, opting to provide fewer variables to more basic users should go hand in hand with having the interface teach the “game plan” in the best way possible.

7. Small bites

Facebook (and every company in the big data game) are known to be able to change the interfaces for billions of users on a whim, for better or worse. That is why they implement changes gradually: remember the frequent timeline changes? The registration for the new timeline layout (for users who wanted to see it first)? That is how you do it. Reveal features gradually or run several versions of your product in parallel (yes, A/B testing is advisable), and collect user feedback and data. This will make data gathering easier, diminish the feeling of intolerance towards existing users and reduce hurting the user base.

A Word on User Testing

User testing is a subject often raised when discussing ethics. I beleive that conducting user tests, knowingly or otherwise, yields a vast source of knowledge and provides the means for gathering data to evaluate. There are many ways to conduct research, whether it requires sitting next to users and watching them use the product, recording their actions or providing customised versions for specific crowds, and anything in-between.

As opposed to meeting your users in person or virtually, anything that is being done “behind the curtains”, whether the users are aware or not, has a layer of ethics on top of it. Every user of the Waze beta program is mindful of the fact that they get the chance to experience the latest features ahead of everyone. Whereas errors and even inability to use the app are not rare, at least, the user is aware of what to expect.

A/B testing is conducted, when versions of an active product are being operated side by side without the user being aware that they are a test subject. A particular question is in order: “is it OK to have users try things out without knowing, in the benefit of making the product better for everyone?”. Very often, the answer is yes, it is fine, as long as there is no harm done and no personal data is revealed. Indeed, a small percentage of users might face difficulties, but the aim is that the test is limited appropriately and the results are worth the trouble. This is particularly applicable in products that are provided free of charge. Some would prefer the chance for small, controlled instability, with the purpose of making the experience improve for the greater good.

There are those who have done something about it. Ind.ie are a Swedish duo who attempt to be the pioneers of technological ethics. In many aspects of it, interface planning included. You are welcome to watch them speak here:

In Conclusion

Ethical challenges often arise while planning and creating the initial wireframes, and particular ethical difficulties continue to rise during the product planning stage. It is advisable to conduct properly to avoid negative public opinion and trust pitfalls in the future.

I suggest thinking ahead about where the user is to be given freedom of choice, and where choices are to be made for him/her, in an attempt to provide the best experience possible and respect their time. In which cases we would prefer to point towards the “correct” action, so we will prevent errors, misunderstandings and keep things reversible. The field of ethics in UX planning is devoid of fixed rules and guidelines. Choices are measured in actions: how do users perceive your product and how much do they eventually trust it.

Consider the character of the product and its message. Within these frames, choose the amount of freedom you would like to provide. Base these decisions on research, tests and your personal experience as users (do not be afraid to make changes accordingly). You should strive to understand the product you are planning, both as a creator and as a user.

The most useful advice I can probably give you is to be as friendly to your users as possible. Keep their best interests in mind, and you will eventually benefit from it. Let them enjoy trusting you while feeling comfortable using the product, whether it is free or costly, simple or complex. Good luck!

Disclaimer: I have originally published a similar version of this article in Israeli on GeekTime and I have adapted it in English for UsabilityGeek.

http://usabilitygeek.com/ethics-in-user-experience-design/

On – 04 Apr, 2017 By Hila Yonatan

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A Guide for CMOs on the Integration of Social Media with Traditional Marketing • blogbrown

 

Digital transformation has shown us a new face of
marketing.

With the increased use of electronic gadgets and the IoT
(Internet of Things), the gap between businesses and customers
have reduced to a great extent. Finally, businesses realized
the importance of digital marketing and started hiring in-house
digital marketers.

Marketing mostly deals with the
advertisement and promotion of products. Marketers should make
a continuous search for the platforms where they can interact
with more people. In this context,
social media evolves as the next big advertising platform

after television and print media.

And in reality, it goes beyond them.

Social Media Marketing and Strategies

Nicholas Lamphere of Harvard University
defines social media as:

  • “A media for interaction using
    highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques.”

Social media acts as the nexus that connects around 2
billion
netizens worldwide. It would seem that social
media is a treasure trove of potential customers.

Leveraging the social media networks for business is
called social media marketing.

If you are a blogger, you can
generate traffic for your business
. A service or
product-based business can advertise and promote their services
and products. These are the ways that businesses can use social
media.

Your specific strategies, however, depend on the niche of
your business. There are
so many social media networks available
. Each platform
allows marketers to function in different ways. So, you have to
determine which platforms serve you the best.

Social Media Integration in Business

Social media is the perfect place for:

  • Brand promotion
  • Lead generation
  • Customer support
  • Customer relations management

The number of social users increases rapidly as the
business invests more time and resources into social
media.

As per the recent reports of the CMO’s survey, the
social media spending of businesses is above
10%.

And it seems that spending may rise dramatically.
According to the report, the spending will see a 3%
rise
 in the next 12 months and will be
doubled
in the next five years.

In the below infographics,
you can see the social spending of B2B in 2016:

In the below table, you can see the social spending of
B2B and B2C businesses:

social-media-spent-over-years

If you observe the table, B2C services are
investing more on social media
marketing when compared to other businesses. This reason
is due to more exposure to their audience.

Well, the overall spending is in a healthy state.

But when they were surveyed about the
integration of social media marketing with their
current marketing strategies, the results are not as
encouraging. CMOs are still failing in implementing strong
social media strategies.

Here is the report of the CMO’s survey where they
inquired the chiefs of around 289 businesses in the US about
the integration of SMM strategies with their business.

They scaled up the answers from 1-7:

  • 1 being not integrated.
  • 7 being well-integrated.
  • The mean level of the integration is 4.2.

survey-on-social-media-integration

As per the social media marketing industry
report (Michael A. Stelzner, 2016):

  • 23% of social marketers strongly
    agreed
    that they have integrated social media
    strategies with their traditional marketing
    strategies.
  • 58% marketers simply “agreed”.

integration-of-smm

  • And 40% of marketers feel that SMM has become
    harder
    than it was a year ago.

smm-difficulty

In such a case, social CMOs should hone
their strategies
to get the best outcomes from social
media.

What should the CMOs do?

The younger
generations
are more familiar with social media networks. A
junior employee can know more about social media sites when
compared to the CMO of the business. We can call the junior
staff digital natives.

Digital natives can create good business pages on various
social sites. Digital natives can make outstanding
content. But digital natives may not know the best marketing
route to get the desired effect. They need guidance.

It is an undeniable fact that marketing, be it
traditional or digital, deals with strategies. And this is why
a social CMO, whose primary responsibility is to make
strategies, is good for social marketing.

So the CMOs should keep three things in mind for better
social media outcomes:

1. Give a break to the figures

Most marketers are thinking about their social media
figures:

  • Facebook likes
  • YouTube views
  • Twitter retweets
  • +1s on Google Plus
  • etc.

Of course, these figures are important. But they are not
the most important.

The count of people you have doesn’t matter as much as
what you do with those people.

Simply guide your digital natives around increasing the
amount of likes. They will take care of it.

Once you get those likes, you have to focus on how to
turn your social audience into your loyal customers.

2. Enhance the social skills of your staff

As a CMO, you are the driving force of your business’s
social media success. But you can’t do everything.

As said earlier, your junior staff are likely already
very active on social media. So nurture their skills with
proper training on how to use social media for
business.

There are many
social media management tools
that can manage your
campaigns and
help in generating leads for your business
. Train your
staff on using these tools effectively. Let them know how to
determine targeted users and make conversions.

This mix of strategy and social media skills can do
wonders for your business.

3. Measure performance

Now you have some great social media strategies and a
well-trained team. And you are making good campaigns on social
media. But how do you analyze your performance?

Different businesses have different goals in social media
marketing:

  • Some marketers want to increase their brand
    awareness.
  • Some want to generate leads.
  • Some want to make more conversions.

As a CMO, you have to maintain a checklist of
what outcomes you want from your social media campaigns. We can
call the checklist points key performance
indicators (KPIs).

There are many such KPIs to help you check whether you
are making any difference in your marketing. Let’s have a look
at them:

Key Performance Indicators

1. Rise in engagement

As said above, different marketers need different things
from social media. Facebook likes matter for some marketers and
YouTube views matter for others.

The increase in each parameter indicates your
success.

If you are a retail marketer, measure CTR for your
content on social media and for your sponsored posts. A rise in
these parameters can indicate the increased visibility of your
business on social media.

If you want to use social media for CRM, measure the
feedback for the support you provide on Twitter and
Facebook.

2. Conversions

In terms of digital marketing, getting someone to perform
the desired action is known as a conversion.
In a social media context, getting a response from your
call-to-action is the conversion (a key performance
indicator).

For example, you want to increase registrations on your
website. You use the call-to-action ‘Register’ in your
campaigns. The number of registrations you get from the
campaigns is the measurement of your performance.

You have to measure two types of conversions:

  1. Conversions on your website.
  2. Conversions on social media.

You might want to try
different types of content
on your website to attract your
users. Determine what kind of content gets you more conversions
and make more of that content.

On social media, you may have tried different kinds of
campaigns. Measure how much budget you have allocated for each
campaign and plan how you want to manage your budget depending
on each performance.

3. Sentiment analysis

As people are so expressive on social media, you can
easily measure the sentiment.

Knowing what the public is saying about your brand is a
very important thing.

As a CMO of a business, you are responsible for the
reputation
of your brand. So, you have to know what your
users are thinking about your brand. There are many tools available that analyze
sentiment
.

4. ROI

ROI is possibly the most important KPI.

When you are investing valuable time, money, and effort,
it is so important to make sure you are getting worthy returns.
As per the social media industry report:

  • Only 41% of marketers said that they are
    able to measure ROI.
  • 37% of marketers are still
    uncertain.

roi-measure

But social media is not just for posting content and
getting likes.

It’s a great place for generating leads and driving more
traffic to your website. But this doesn’t happen so easily. It
costs you time, money, and resources.

You have to get the best possible outcomes from social
media. So, CMOs need to measure the social media ROI.

Conclusion

Awareness, targeting, and lead generation (the
trifecta of marketing),
 have become easier with
social media marketing.

As of now, there are around 2.35 billion social
media users
in the world. And it is predicted that
there will be 3 billion by
2020. 

Integrating social media marketing with your traditional
marketing strategies should become the most prioritized task of
CMOs. They should utilize their young talent and implement
potential strategies to make a prosperous business in today’s
digital era.

What are your thoughts on this article? Share your comments
below!

Did you like this post? Share it with your friends on
Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus!

 

http://www.blogbrown.com/a-guide-for-cmos-on-the-integration-of-social-media-with-traditional-marketing/

On – 30 Mar, 2017 By

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Top 7 IOT Trends For 2017 I Internet of Things I hIOTron

Every user requires a single access point instead of multiple interfaces which are well connected, smart and fast. Almost every industry is investing in Internet of Things (IoT) recently.
IoT is one of the transformational trends that will shape the future of businesses in 2017 and beyond. Many firms see big opportunity in IoT uses and enterprises start to believe that IoT holds the promise to enhance customer relationships and drive business growth by improving quality, productivity, and reliability. By having the right IoT model companies will be rewarded with new customers, better insights, and improved customer satisfaction to mention few benefits.

Top 7 IOT Trends

1. Internet of Things Platforms

Apps driven platform is getting replaced by Artificial Intelligence driven platform.

Good platforms provide enormous value by linking IoT to advanced analytics and applications to generate business outcomes. This enables the generated data to be meaningfully used by the users.

An IoT platform is required to collect data, connect devices, handle hundreds of vendors and dozens of wireless standards (like LoRa and SigFox etc.) and must be scalable enough to send messages across the network.

Platforms must be able and efficient enough to add close loop automation, privacy, security, cognitive and insight generation.

IoT can sometimes even act as an agent to transform business.

2. Security

Security is an important aspect, when everything is connected via internet. People rely on internet as it makes their lives easier and happier.

Application developers, device Manufacturers, operators, consumers, enterprise businesses and integrators etc all have to follow best practices to keep their data secure.
A multi-layered approach is required for Internet of Things security. Security approach must start with hardware devices then coming over to software / firmware.

A sequence of education, interoperability and decent design along with a proactive approach in designing security features is required to create better products and solutions.

3. Cognitive Computing

Internet of Things presents tremendous opportunities.

The commoditization of sensors, memory and processors has made things more intelligent rather than just being connected in a network and being identified with their IP addresses.

Traditional IoT implementations are accompanied by cognitive computing which increases the amount of data that helps in improving the learning environment and increases the possibilities of edge analytics.

Multiple data streams can be combined with cognitive IoT.

Sensors can be made capable of diagnosing and getting adapted with the environment, without human interference.

IoT value is further showcased by artificial intelligence, cognitive IoT and machine learning. To make use of existing IoT data and information new approaches are required

4. IoT and Many Mobile Moments

IoT is creating new opportunities and providing a competitive advantage for businesses in current and new markets. It touches everything—not just the data, but how, when, where and why you collect it.

The technologies that have created the Internet of Things aren’t changing the internet only, but rather change the things connected to the internet. More mobile moments (the moments in which a person pulls out a mobile device to get what he or she wants, immediately and in context) will appear on the connected device, right from home appliances to cars to smartwatches and virtual assistants.

All these connected devices will have the potential of offering a rich stream of data that will then be used by product and service owners to interact with their consumers.​

5. IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and Containers

In an IoT situation, AI can help companies take the billions of data points they have and boil them down to what’s really meaningful.

The general premise is the same as in the retail applications – review and analyzes the data you’ve collected to find patterns or similarities that can be learned from so that better decisions can be made.

The year 2017 would see Internet of Things software being distributed across cloud services, edge devices, and gateways. The year would also witness IoT solutions being built on modern Microservices (an approach to application development in which a large application is built as a suite of modular services.

Each module supports a specific business goal and uses a simple, well-defined interface to communicate with other modules) and containers (lightweight virtualization) that would work across this distributed architecture.
Further, machine-learning cloud services and Artificial Intelligence will be put to use to mine the data that would be coming in from IoT devices.​

6. IoT and New Business Models

The bottom line is a big motivation for starting, investing in, and operating any business, without a sound and solid business models for IoT we will have another bubble , this model must satisfy all the requirements for all kinds of e-commerce; vertical markets, horizontal markets, and consumer markets.

A new business model including sharing cost of devices with consumers, reducing the cost of ownership and making UX less hassle and more joyful. 2017 will see new categories being added to smart markets.

One key element is to bundle service with the product, for example, devices like Amazon’s Alexa will be considered just another wireless speaker without the services provided like voice recognition, music streaming, and booking Uber service to mention few.​

7. IoT and Blockchain Will Converge

Blockchain is more than a concept now and has applications in many verticals besides FinTech including IoT. Blockchain technology is considered by many experts as the missing link to settle scalability, privacy, and reliability concerns in the Internet of Things.

Blockchain technology can be used in tracking billions of connected devices, enable the processing of transactions and coordination between devices; allow for significant savings to IoT industry manufacturers.

This decentralized approach would eliminate single points of failure, creating a more resilient ecosystem for devices to run on.

The cryptographic algorithms used by Blockchain would make consumer data more private. In 2017 IoT will converge with Blockchain for better security and privacy opening the door for a new category in applications, hardware, and talents.

Conclusion

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an ecosystem of ever-increasing complexity; it is the next level of automation of every object in our life and convergence of new technologies will make IoT implementation much easier and faster, which in turn will improve many aspects of our life at home and at work and in between. From refrigerators to parking spaces to smart houses, IoT is bringing more and more things into the digital fold every day, which will likely make IoT a multi-trillion dollar industry in the near future.

One possible outcome in the near future is the introduction of “IoT as a Service” technology. If that service offered and used the same way we use other flavors of “as a service” technologies today the possibilities of applications in real life will be unlimited.

http://www.hiotron.com/top-iot-trends/

On – 29 Mar, 2017 By

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How The Rise of Chatbots Can Affect Ecommerce Startups – Inc42 Media

Artificial intelligence is the new trend in tech and marketing. Consumers are loving it. What’s the ultimate goal of any brand or business? Engaging customers.

But what does engagement really mean in 2017? Today is the era of conversational marketing. If you want to win customers, you MUST make a real conversation with them. Even if you count how many messaging apps you have on your mobile phone, the chances are you have more than two or three apps.

Messaging apps have become important in our daily lives. 55% of the population of the planet use a messenger app every single day

And chatbot is the newest trend in messaging. A Chatbot is an interactive and interesting automated phone system which allows you to connect with a brand.

What Exactly Are Chatbots

Here’s Zembula’s quick and easy definition of a chatbot:

“In its most basic form (we’ll use basic as a relative term here), a chatbot is a form of artificial intelligence that combined with rules and algorithms that allows for a text-based chat interface to communicate with others. A chatbot is a tool that lets brands interact over chat with consumers.”

Let me make it more simple for you. Read this statement by Mark Zuckerberg,

“We think you should message a business just the way you would message a friend.”

This statement means more than any other technical definition.

Here’s an example to make it clearer:

If you wanted to order pizza from Domino’s, you’d go to their site, look around until you find your choice pizza, and then you’d order that.

But with the help of a Domino’s chatbot, you’d simply be able to message them on Facebook Messenger. It will understand your requirement by asking you relevant questions and you would simply tell it what you want… Simple.

(Image Credits)

According to David Marcus, Facebook’s VP of Messaging Products

“Bots can provide anything from automated subscription content like weather and traffic updates to customised communications like receipts, shipping notifications, and live automated messages all by interacting directly with the people who want to get them.”

Watch this video  – Facebook showing what a chatbot can do.

Here are some examples of chatbots:

TacoBot is the Taco Bell (Fast food chain) robot. They unveiled it on the popular messaging platform Slack, which allows customers to order food by messaging TacoBot, which asks all the right questions.

H&M, Sephora, and Victoria’s Secret have all recently introduced chatbots which make suggestions to customers and allow them to buy through the messaging platform. Burger King and Pizza Hut allow customers to order food directly through Facebook Messenger by messaging the restaurant chains’ bots.

CELEB STYLE chatbot analyses what your favourite celebrities are wearing and tells consumers where they can purchase each wardrobe item.

With 300 million downloads, the Kik chat app is used by close to 40% US teens. Facebook Messenger is another major player with 1 billion users! Some other popular platforms are: Slack, WhatsApp, ChatFuel, and many others.

Do you wonder what is the potential impact of a chatbot on an ecommerce startup? Take a look at some stats:

Live chat users spend an average of 5%-30% more and The buyer conversion rate is 5 to 10 times higher following a chat session. (Source)

90% of our time on mobile is spent on messaging platforms. People are using messenger apps more than they are using social networks. (Source)

80% of businesses said they already used or planned to use chatbots by 2020.

So, a chatbot is a BIG opportunity for your ecommerce startup to get ahead of your competition. Jes Stiles, CMO Emerging Markets, Ringier AG, perfectly answers why chatbots are important: “A messenger bot can allow you to have personalised 1-1 conversations at scale, opening up a whole new audience who do not wish to connect with the brand over email or download an app. Moreover, when built in a user-friendly manner, chatbots can actually provide a better experience than a human for common use cases with faster response times (no matter what time or day of the week) and greater personalisation of content.”

The Role Of  Chatbots In Ecommerce

Let’s take a look at how chatbots will completely change the way you do business:

Customer Experience And Service

Chatbots are meant to replace traditional chats and other communication media like phone calls and emails. The days are not that far when it completely replaces all human interaction.

Chatbot will take your customer service to another level. A chatbot can give your customers a quick, personalised, and interactive customer experience. They are meant to deliver instant and round-the-clock services and support to customers in need, offering all customers a quick and instant resolution to their queries and complaints.

Improve Your Sales

An ecommerce company which has chatbots indeed offers a prominent feature on their brand.

Chatbots can help you in the generation of potential leads and drive sales. A chatbot quickly responds to the customers who are scrolling through your sales page, can help to capture all potential customers by supplying their useful information to the sales department.

Chatbot can also send notifications and reminders to your prospects.

Make Conversation With Users

You can shop or order something in a conversational style. For example, your order a pair of shoes online by using the shopping website or by downloading the app of an online shopping site.

But with a chatbot, you don’t need to download an app or open a website. Just open Messenger, type XYZ shoes and a bot will take your order. It will ask you some relevant questions and show you shoes according to your preferences.

It will save a lot of time of your users. They serve the purpose in the best possible manner.

Help Customers To Make A Purchasing Decision

Chatbots help customers (who are not tech-friendly) in putting the items in the shopping cart and successfully completing the whole shopping process.

A chatbot stores your order history and suggests similar or complimentary products. If you have a confusion about any product, you can chat with a bot to ask your questions.

Do you want to register a complaint? Or do you need to return a product?

You don’t have to write a long email and no need of a telephonic conversation. A chatbot will take care of it. A chatbot gives a personalised feel to your customers. And makes your users feel like they are talking with a human. It will help you to cut business costs.


About The Author

[The author of this post is Kunjal Panchal, Digital Strategist and a social media geek – passionate about content marketing and strongly believes in the power of storytelling for marketing.]

Note from Inc42: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.

https://inc42.com/resources/rise-chatbots-affect-ecommerce-startups/

On – 18 Apr, 2017 By

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The Evolving Role of Social Media in Ecommerce

As social media and ecommerce become increasingly enmeshed in our lives, the opportunities for them to interact with and bolster each other are innumerable, considering that the average person spends around an hour and 40 minutes browsing social media every day, and the number of internet shoppers in the US will reach 217 million this year.

Back in the old days, a business’s presence would be signified by advertisements in the paper and a physical storefront. Now, in the digital age, business reputations live and die by their social media standing. Right now, social media is used by brands as a way to advertise, increase their online presence, and deliver high-quality customer service. In 2017, we can expect those trends to continue, as some new ones emerge. Let’s take a look at the growing role of social media in ecommerce.

Paid advertisements.

With the almost absurd level of customization you can put on a Facebook ad (age, geography, preferences and more) and the detail with which Facebook can report your results, it’s a no-brainer for brands to keep using Facebook and other social media advertising. It’s also a win for Facebook, which raked in more than $7 billion in advertising in 2016.

The most successful brands in 2017 will be those able to maximize their reach and effectiveness on paid social media advertising. William Harris, an ecommerce growth consultant for elumynt.com, says, “I see ecommerce brands investing a lot more in paid social, and I think that trend will continue into 2017…it’s not enough to simply pay for ads on Google Shopping. You’ve got to find a good audience on Facebook ads, Instagram ads and more and more, on Pinterest and other paid social media accounts. It’s getting easier to set these up and track the return on advertising, which means more brands will start doing it.”

Private messaging.

Over the past few years, analysts have noticed an interesting, unexpected trend. While the use of public social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter is starting to decline, private messaging services are exploding in popularity. WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger are all app juggernauts with colossal engagement numbers running into the billions.

Top 10 Best Chatbot Platform Tools to Build Chatbots for Your Business

Where the people go, the businesses must follow, and brands are edging their way into private messaging through chatbots. Chatbots, AI personalities that can simulate real conversations, can answer questions on products, offer recommendations, and resolve customer complaints.

Consumers are slowly warming to the idea. According to Venturebeat.com, 49.4 percent of customers would rather contact a business through a 24/7 messaging service than through the phone. Brands would be prescient to start looking into catboat services as a supplementary channel to reach customers. 

Additionally, many private messaging services now offer financial integration. Opening up WeChat, chatting with a brand AI representative, and purchasing a product without closing the app once, is entirely within the realm of possibility in 2017.

In-app purchasing.

The harder it is to buy or access something, the less likely we are to follow through. This explains why ecommerce sites that take a long time to load have higher bounce rates, and online stores with clunky interfaces sell less. One can already buy products through Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Once Apple Pay experiences widespread adoption, it’s almost scary to think about how easy impulse buys will be — if you see something you like on social media, one swipe will get it delivered to your door. Brands should immediately start evaluating how they can sell their products through social networks, coupling a strong advertising presence with an easy purchasing process.

What’s coming.

This year, social media will not only play a big part in ecommerce, but also in all aspects of our social life, just as it has been, arguably, for the last several years. Moreover, several new social network technologies, including powerful advertising tools, chatbots and in-app purchasing, as well as improved design, will make ecommerce easier, and bigger, than ever.

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/288952

On – 18 Apr, 2017 By Ellie Martin

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Four Takeaways From Social Media Summit 2017 – DigiPulse Marketing

Social Media Summit 2017

WHAT THE SMALL BUSINESS OWNER NEEDS TO KNOW NOW.

 

I had the pleasure of attending Social Media Summit 2017 at Croke Park, Dublin on 11th & 12th April 2017. The event took place over two days gathering together professionals in the industry and top speakers from near and far. Mari Smith, often known as ‘The Queen of Facebook’ travelled from the US via Scotland (her homeland) and keynoted on the first day. More about that later. The first day and the early morning of the second day were jammed packed with very interesting speakers and panels. The remainder of the second day was made up of Masterclasses where we got to learn the ‘how-to’. The event trended nationally for almost 3 days on Twitter and even hit the global trends. Well, we’re Social Media Marketers after all. What would you expect!

Marie Collins - Social Media Summit 2017There was also a very eye-catching and delicious wall of green doughnuts, the opportunity to see the Sam Maguire Cup and the Liam McCarthy Cup and a great industry appropriate photo booth. We had the opportunity to chat, network, tweet and snap to our heart’s content.

My four takeaways from Social Media Summit 2017 are put together with small business in mind – the kinds of small businesses that I encounter every day in my work. Here’s what you should know from what I learned at the Summit. Here are the kinds of things you need to be implementing now to get that edge. Here you will discover where you need to be putting your energies for the rest of 2017.

Social Customer Care

Social Customer Care, sometimes also referred to as Social Customer Service, is how we look after our customers and clients on Social. It can come in almost any form but it must always be dealt with promptly. You may expect a customer enquiry as a tweet, or you may see a Facebook review, or then again you may get a PM on Facebook. Andrea Finnegan of Airbnb spoke at length about the culture of Social Customer Care in the company and gave examples where they not only satisfactorily resolved any issues but also went above and beyond to ensure the customer or host was happy.

Social Media Summit 2017 - Four TakeawaysMari Smith says that we are better in Europe than they are in the US at this. While this is positive, I know that I have come across Facebook Messages in accounts that have not been responded to for several months or even a year. The digitally savvy customer will not tolerate this and will quite simply leave and go elsewhere. It makes your business seem sloppy.

I especially liked the talk by Jamie White of Leading Social. Jamie says he loves complaints, something which strikes dread into most small business owners. He says this is your big opportunity to shine and show the world that you really care about your customers.

Take a look at how your customers are being engaged with on Social. Who is in charge of these tasks? Are they equipped to do so? Do they have the ability to think on their feet? Do they have the power to resolve issues? Also, consider if positive reviews and comments are left on Social Media; are they being responded to? There’s nothing worse than these being ignored by your business. These reviewers and commenters are in your corner. Keep them there!

Influencer Marketing

Leveraging influencers online is something which our larger cousins, the corporates, do very well all the time. There was considerable talk from a number of speakers and panelists about Influencer Marketing. Lisa Toner of Hubspot spoke about sourcing your influencers, influencers who resonate with your customers and clients. It’s a bit of a grey area as to whether influencers are paid or not at times. What’s probably true to say is that the influencer is getting value in some other way. Lisa Toner warned that your business or brand must get value from the partnership. Choose your influencer well. Additionally, Lisa says that they don’t pay most of their influencers at Hubspot. Interestingly, Mari Smith declared that she was a brand ambassador for Animoto. Therefore, we as listeners knew that she has a collaboration with that company when she mentions them.

I think Infuencer Marketing is something which small busineses can explore. And you don’t need mega influencers to work with. That may seem disproportionate. But there may be local influencers that would work with your business online that are in tune with your customers. They should be someone who has credibility, a considerable social media following and be familiar with you business. I think also they should believe in your business so that you get the best message out there.

Video

No contest. Video was one of the biggest messages from the Social Media Summit. Both regular video and live video. Almost every speaker mentioned it it some way. Mari Smith says that video on Facebook gets 3 times more engagement, yet less than 1% of posts in the newsfeed are video according to Buffer.

Greg Owens of Twitter Dublin spoke about the need to capture the audience with a great hook at the start of the video. We need to grab people’s attention in the first 3 seconds, else they’re gone to the next shiny object.

Facebook is investing heavily in video to compete in this growing space inhabited by Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime. In fact, Facebook is introducing a new video only feed on mobile. It’s also looking to episodic content. It’s safe to say we’re only at the very start of this video revolution. Mari Smith says there is a small window of opportunity now when businesses can leverage the space before the explosion of video content takes place.

Brands that fail to incorporate visuals and videos will be left by the wayside. ~ Forbes Click To Tweet

The big learn for me is square video on social media. Yes, we’ve all seen them in the Facebook and Instagram feeds. But they have a considerable number of positives I hadn’t realised. Square videos get +28% video views than landscape and have a 67% higher completion rate. Because of these results if you’re producing video, consider going square for Facebook and Instagram. You’ll need tools to do this. Some that were suggested are Animoto and Animatron.

Live video is also something to consider for your small business and I really enjoyed Krishna De’s Masterclass on this.

Marie Collins with Mari Smith

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads were mentioned by so many of the speakers in so many different ways. Facebook Ads are now a given. We were told by Mari Smith that Facebook will run out of Ad inventory this summer. Facebook Ads are sure to increase in price in the long term however Facebook is continually creating new types of placements. It’s clear that the small business owner must stick with the game in order to be relevant in this continually shifting environment.

The beauty of posting video either organically or as a ad on Facebook is that you can then create custom audiences from your video viewers and retarget those people with ads later. The overall message was to be human, tell stories and evoke an emotion on Facebook Ads in order to be successful. It’s also worth looking at Canvas Ads although they may be a step too far for small businesses in terms of the input required. Mari Smith suggests that the Facebook algorithm can detect the sophistication of the ad, which makes a lot of sense to me.

In any case from what I heard from the speakers and for the other delegates around the room is that Facebook Ads are absolutely necessary in 2017 and beyond.

I thoroughly enjoyed attending Social Media Summit 2017 and am already looking forward to next year!

If you would like to get in touch with me feel free to use the Facebook Messenger button below.

 

 

http://digipulse.ie/four-takeaways-social-media-summit-2017/

On – 17 Apr, 2017 By Marie Collins

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7 Epic Inbound Marketing Resources Every Business Can Learn From | Online Digital Marketing Courses

I like to think of inbound marketing as the true charmer of digital marketing. But before you become horrified and start imagining broken promises and angry customers left disillusioned and disappointed, let me explain a little further…Inbound marketing delivers on its promises.

It helps businesses understand what people want, need and crave and helps them get to grips with the tactics that will ultimately keep their customers satisfied. But instead of whispering sweet nothings in their ears – it actually gives customers what they’ve asked for in the form of compelling content, relevant search terms and personalised and meaningful messages.

You see, inbound marketing is the most cost-effective and authentic way to win your customers’ hearts and minds. And that makes it a skill that you simply cannot afford not to master…

The Best Inbound Marketing Academy:

HubSpot, the kings of inbound marketing have developed a learning academy for budding inbound marketers to journey through and graduate from. The comprehensive course consists of a series of engaging training videos, in-depth user guides and how-to articles. The learning academy helps you get to grips with inbound marketing basics like blogging, social media, building landing pages and running email marketing campaigns.

Top Tip: You can earn your Inbound Certification for free – after you’ve studied the resources, take the exam so you can proudly display it on your LinkedIn profile.

The Best Inbound Marketing Library:

Moz’s ‘Learn SEO and Search Marketing’ library contains a wealth of in-depth, how-to articles that every budding inbound marketer should investigate. You’ll learn everything you need to begin your SEO journey, including getting to grips with the basic terms and tactics that form a powerful inbound strategy. You’ll discover how to conduct effective keyword targeting along with the importance of on-page optimization, taking into account everything from meta descriptions and schema structured data to duplicate content and mobile optimized websites.

But the inbound fun doesn’t end there – you’ll also enjoy SEO quizzes, industry surveys, technical guides, educational video bundles and lots more. For additional lessons, Moz Academy is worth a flick through. Word of warning though – there are so many great resources available that you might be browsing for a while so make sure you curl up with a coffee first and pause that Netflix show.

The Best SEO Community:

You can sign up to the Moz Community for free. And we’d certainly recommend you do so as there are so plenty of unmissable inbound marketing resources to avail of. For example, you can register for their upcoming webinars (or Mozinars) which are fairly regular and cover a vast array of SEO topics and you can, of course, watch a series of previously recorded webinars also. You will be kept up to date with upcoming events, can avail of unlimited Open Site Explorer Reports and have the opportunity to ask and answer questions in the Q&A forum.

However, the best part is that you get to write and submit your own blog posts for review. The Moz Community only publishes in-depth, quality posts that add true value to the reader so make sure you read their guidelines in full before submitting a draft. Writing about a subject is often the best way to learn. And as an absolute bonus you’ll get your name out to a premium audience. There’s no better way to establish your own credibility in the inbound marketing industry.

Best Community For: Making a well-respected name for yourself in the industry and learning from influential sources.

The Best Inbound Marketing Blogs:

Inbound.org is an exciting online forum that publishes daily articles, opinions and quotes from inbound professionals at all industry levels, from well-known influencers to complete newbies. Submissions can be voted up or down, allowing visitors to discover the best, newest and most-on-topic inbound articles around.

Discussions on the latest SEO updates can get fairly heated – this is a great hub for viewing both sides of the argument and allowing you to form your own opinions about new industry trends and news. Interaction is also very much encouraged, making this the ideal community to visit to ask questions, pose thoughts and make connections.

Best Blog For: Helping you discover the most popular and influential inbound blog posts of the moment.

Search Engine Land is a rather compelling daily publication that focuses on all aspects of the search marketing industry. You can look forward to breaking news stories and industry trends alongside new feature announcements and algorithm changes at the likes of Google and other search engine giants. This is the first place we recommend turning to for industry news – a must-read for your morning commute.

Best Blog For: Helping you get to grips with industry news, algorithm changes and SEO updates.

Learning how to create valuable content is one of the most important components of inbound marketing. And no-one knows their content marketing quite like the Content Marketing Institute. They provide a wealth of content marketing resources, including industry benchmarks and trends, original whitepapers, podcasts and webinars. Their White Paper and eBook Library is a must-visit – a true treasure trove of content marketing advice from industry experts.

The blog is home to a number of awesome articles written about blogging, content strategy and storytelling best practices that will help you dramatically enhance the power of your inbound marketing mission. Another big bonus is that it keeps you updated with the latest content marketing events that often have a heavy inbound marketing focus.

Best Blog For: Learning how to master content marketing and understanding what it takes to provide true value for customers.

Just like content marketing, social media is an essential component of any effective inbound marketing strategy. It is especially important to learn how to identify and connect with industry influencers with large social media followings who can significantly propel the reach of your content.

You’ll learn how to do this and lots more by reading Social Media Examiner regularly. The blog is packed full of quality articles about all things social media, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more. It also often includes expert opinions, influencer interviews and best-practice case studies.

Best Blog For: Helping you learn how to use social media to attract customers towards your brand and build valuable communities in the process.

Want to become an Inbound Marketing Specialist? Our Online Professional Diploma in Search Marketing is created, validated and accredited by industry experts and will give you the specialist knowledge needed to thrive in the field.

About Zara Burke

Zara is the Digital Marketing Institute’s Digital Marketing Executive. She writes about all things digital marketing, including search, social media, email, mobile and Analytics. Her core passions are content creation and small business strategy.

https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/blog/7-epic-inbound-marketing-resources-every-business-can-learn

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