Future Stories: Who is the Customer of the Future and Where Will We Find Them? Posted at 0:00, Thu, 24 April 2014 in Industry Insights

Future Stories was the recent sold-out, first in series event held by MitchelLake Group at Facebook’s uber-cool offices in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. Here Emma Jones, Head of Digital at MitchelLake, tells her version of events.

When asked to define a topic for a new event series for 2014, it was an easy and obvious choice to me. Having recently flown home from NZ over Christmas, reading the complimentary NZ broadsheet, an article grabbed my attention – a “light bulb” moment. The article profiled Kiwi expat Grant Harrison, now living in London, who masterminded the renowned Tesco Club card loyalty program in the mid ‘90s and went on to build an impressive career in data analytics and consumer loyalty for some of the world’s most customer centric brands. I later came to interview Harrison with this event in mind.

So we built out this first in series event around the ongoing, and ever increasing conundrum that is “big data”. I hate, however, using the term “big data” now because it’s so much more than just that. It’s fundamentally about the issue of understanding customers, be they of a product or a service, and understanding their behaviour. When we understand behaviour we can start to develop profiles and patterns that allow us to predict future behaviours and enable us to then become intuitive about how we engage, acquire and retain our customers. This then is the golden key.

There are so many questions on this subject and Australia is still immature in its quest to master the dark art of data science as the enabler. So for the first in this series of events where we aim to tackle this truly challenging subject, we invited guests with relevant stories to share of their successful engagement of their target customers, some innovative, some intuitive, but all in their own ways inventive. It made for an interesting morning….

Will Easton, Facebook’s Australian MD, opened the event with a rousing topic overview and introduction, then handed over to Warren Billington who expertly compared, introducing the panel:

David Rohrsheim, GM for UBER Sydney
• David gave an entertaining version of events of UBER’s rapid rise to success and a compelling, and equally entertaining insight into their approach to customer insights, alluding to heavy investment in understanding their customers, enabling accurate, but anonymous profiles. An example of their “creative pragmatism” being the segmenting the “ride of glory” user (in my day known as the “walk of shame” home the morning after the night before)! They’ve tapped into the cab-riding consumer’s transport desires like no other, so much so that UBER has become a common noun – “getting an Uber” – and is well on its way to becoming a verb. Needless to say, we all “Ubered” to and from the Facebook offices!

Matt Symons, Founder of Society One
• Matt proved the most notable of the speakers for me – I’d go so far as to say somewhat of a rock star. He gave an engaging insight into his innovative peer-to-peer lending platform that I think proved an eye opener for all present. Based on clear insights and leveraging data and BI to really understand how consumers want to use lending services which has proven highly effective in outfoxing the banks. Matt is a subject matter expert in data and analytics having previously built and run the number one multivariate testing and site optimisation company Memetrics which he successfully sold to Accenture.

Simon Griffin, Chief Commercial Officer, Ozforex
• Simon gave a humble overview of the international FX’s rise to IPO glory last year, with the genuine admission they are embarking on the very start of their insights journey and drive to become a truly data centric business. Ozforex is continuing its expansion into overseas markets in Asia, Europe and US and so understanding the behaviours of their FX dealing customers in each corridor will become critical to achieving their planned growth on a global scale. To this end they are looking to dramatically ramp up their data and analytics capabilities accordingly with international product and marketing leadership to drive initiative.

Michael Fox, CEO of Shoes of Prey
• Michael also spoke humbly about his publicly acclaimed global online shoe brand. However he did give up some of their closely held secrets to understanding the consumer journey and behaviours that have enabled them to achieve such strong customer engagement. Their insights tell them that customers often like to touch and feel the products and so they have developed a fantastic physical concept boutique which is being rolled out to major department stores. Michael’s happens to be an ex lawyer so held himself well at question time!

Kath Hamilton, GM of Retailer Digital Services & Partnerships at Westfield Labs
• Kath received a lot of questions from the audience around how they are engaging with their consumers and around innovation. She answered these deftly, giving a view of some of the innovation Westfield Labs have been researching to enhance the shopper experience, from an intuitive app that guides shoppers to exact locations of specific products around the sites to providing location based promotions based on sophisticated user profiling. All with the aim of providing seamless on and offline user and customer experience.

The post event feedback we received was fantastic (except for the coffee that ran out!) so we’ll be looking to start planning for the next one soon! With the benefit of hindsight we’ll have less speakers as the time didn’t allow for as much depth of discussion for each as we’d have liked. Our hosts at Facebook were awesome in their generosity providing the venue and also the superb breakfast. Will Easton also generously gave his time to support the event which added that extra flavour from this world class organisation.

Ronald McDonald House Randwick are MitchelLake’s charity partner and were the grateful recipients of all ticket sale donations. I and six others from MitchelLake in Sydney went the Ronal McDonald House at the Randwick Hospital earlier this week and cooked dinner for around 80 residents! The support they provide the unfortunate families with seriously ill children who have to stay there is just astounding. We all left truly humbled by the experience – to be blogged by my colleague Jamie Finnegan soon.