Meeting the Needs of the Always-Connected Consumer

The number of ultra-connected customers—people who access the Internet multiple times from various devices each day—is growing at a rapid pace, forcing marketers to work even harder in adapting to their habits and expectations, according to a new report released today from Forrester Research.

The report, "2013 Interactive Marketing Predictions," shows that in the third quarter of 2011, 38 percent of U.S. adults were already using the Internet throughout the day from multiple devices and locations. A year later, that rate increased to 42 percent.

"As we've been talking about for the past year, people are now connected to each other, to places, to things, and to brands more often and from more locations than ever before," writes an author of the report, Forrester analyst Melissa Parrish, in a blog post.

"And that evolution is changing more than just the frequency with which we turn to devices: It's changing how we perceive the concept of connectivity," she notes.

In order to meet the expectations of the always-connected customer, Forrester predicts marketers will need to make substantial changes in their approaches to multichannel programs, targeting, data, and vendor relationships.

Highlights of the report's predictions are as follows: Targeting will become highly personalized in 2013, improving brand interactions for customers but also making it more important that marketers avoid being perceived as intrusive or "creepy."

Vendors will respond in various ways, including offering merged intelligence and deployment systems to enable advertisers to quickly respond to marketing opportunities and change their campaigns accordingly; advertising and direct marketing vendors will converge; and start-ups will focus on location-based predictive modeling.

In terms of analytics, Gartner released a report today that suggests analytics can be made more actionable and easier to understand by using natural language interfaces for exploring data and analytic applications that are embedded at the point of decision or action.

The report also notes that analytic systems are becoming more sophisticated in that "a shift is occurring from systems that primarily aggregate and compute structured data, toward analytic systems that correlate and relate structured and unstructured data, and reason, learn, and deliver prescriptive advice."

And while businesses continue to struggle to handle voluminous amounts of data, the bottom line, according to Rita Sallam, research vice president analyst at Gartner, is that "in the face of accelerating business processes and a myriad of distractions, real-time operational intelligence systems are moving from nice to have to must have for survival."

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