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More value from venues: Transforming customer experiences through intelligent spaces

JordanWhitmarsh

I once changed my mortgage because it was tied to a current account that had an atrocious mobile app. If you’ve ever refinanced a mortgage, you know how horrible that is. But to me it was worth it to get the kind of instant access and control over my finances that I expect.

I don’t think I’m a particularly extreme case (though you may disagree!) As consumers, technology has taught us to expect increasingly innovative experiences. Each of us is constantly curating our personal digital ecosystem, deciding which providers to include or exclude, based to a large extent on the experiences they provide.

That has profound implications for organizations whose business depends on engaging customers, clients or citizens within physical spaces: hotels, sports stadiums, retail outlets, theatres, and many other locations and venues. These organizations have an opportunity to add an entirely new dimension to the digital experience, beyond remote online interactions, but seamlessly integrated with them. They can build intelligence and exceptional experiences directly into the spaces and places their customers occupy.

Five-star digital hospitality

HPE20170310145_800_0_72_srgb.jpgThink about the digital experience from t-minus-24 hours before I enter a hotel, for example. I can check in on my smartphone. Perhaps I can choose the room that I'm eligible for; If I’m a gold member I might get to choose from a different subset of benefits than I would if I was a standard member. When I arrive in the lobby, the hotel’s system knows that I'm there, it knows who I am, and it knows the location of the room that I've reserved. It gives me wayfinding directions to the elevators via my smartphone and tells me which floor to go to. Then it guides me to my room. When I get there I simply tap my phone against the lock, and in I go.

Digitally-enabled spaces can provide experiences that directly drive revenue. Let’s suppose that now I’m settled in my room, and thinking about getting something to eat. I bring up my digital concierge app or ask my voice-enabled room what the wait time is for a table in the restaurant. Maybe it’s too long, so I decide to check room service. I take another look at my app and order straight from there. By removing barriers between what I want and the hotel’s ability to make it available to me, the business is capturing more revenue. And it’s concentrating my spend within the hotel, as opposed to a restaurant around the corner.

Everyday value, exceptional shopping experiences

Or consider retailing, where the challenge now for many bricks-and-mortar companies is to compete with online platforms by making shopping experiences more engaging and more intelligent. Physical retail locations have the great advantage of enabling consumers to see, touch and browse through the actual objects for purchase. Retailers are looking to merge those benefits with the benefits of digital enablement to provide a smoother, more immersive experience that eliminates unnecessary roadblocks on the purchase transaction.

In any big store, people often spend a lot of time just trying to figure out where things are. Intelligent spaces’ pervasive connectivity and location services can help you navigate in a much more self-service way. Sometimes you just need to find a human being to feel you are getting the right information. Imagine if you could hit a button on your phone to get assistance; the shop staff knows where you are, and someone comes over to help you make your decision and complete the purchase.

Intelligent retail spaces can also make it easier for customers to compare prices and features. Let’s say I'm in the market for a new washing machine. I head over to a big-box store because I want to see how the actual appliance looks, and I also want to be able to compare the prices and features of my top three choices in washing machines. Wouldn’t it be great if the store app navigated me to each of those models? Or if I could call up product information, model comparisons, even technical data on a tablet or display right there in the aisle next to each machine? Even better, let’s say I decide to use the store’s wi-fi to look for a better price on Amazon – wouldn't it be great if the store could send a rep over and say “hey, we’ll match Amazon's price today!”

Retailers benefit competitively by being able to present product information in its fullest context –  in the physical presence of the merchandise. In addition, they can track and analyze traffic patterns around the store so they can move the most valuable merchandise to high-traffic areas.

Intelligent spaces can turn shopping into a much more facilitated, “concierged” type of experience, blending the physical environment with the digital environment to create an experience that’s better than both.

4 principles of intelligent spaces

So what does it take to make an intelligent venue succeed? Four things:

  1. Pervasive connectivity at high density. The network is the foundation for the whole digital experience, so intelligent spaces need connectivity that offers perfect clarity and consistency. A slow, spotty network can’t deliver an exceptional digital experience. If you’re in retail, for example, you want to be sure the network can deliver that experience no matter how many people are in your store, whether it's Black Friday or the middle of a slow Wednesday. You want customers to be connected to your wi-fi rather than cellular or any other connectivity medium, so that you can monetize the behavioral data from that connectivity. You can learn more about what customers are looking for, and you may be able to offer special, personalized deals.
  2. Contextualization. Nothing detracts from the digital experience more than feeling like you're just one in a crowd. Intelligent spaces should provide an experience that’s contextually relevant to me based on my history, my location, my identity: “Hello Jordan, this is what you've bought from us before, this is where you are, and here are some special offers you might be interested in you today.”
  3. The ability to deliver insights. Edge analytics can provide critical insight into customer, client, and citizen behaviors. Municipal services, or state services like the Department of Motor Vehicles in the U.S., can use the technology to determine when wait times are at their shortest in local offices and let potential visitors in the area know. A sports stadium organization might want to understand how people are moving through that space, so that it can put concession stands or emergency facilities in the right places. Edge analytics can deliver those insights.
  4. Engagement. This is the overarching principle that wraps everything together, orchestrating new experiences where the physical world meets our personal digital ecosystems. Engagement is key to loyalty. The intelligent edge enables you to transform relationships that would previously be transient into ones that are much more enduring. And from that deeper connection with customers, you can drive value. It could be value derived from increased revenue, market share, mind share … whatever metric you're looking at. All of them respond to customer loyalty and engagement.

Join us in Madrid

Beyond Cube.jpgHPE Pointnext is uniquely positioned to help you bridge the physical and the digital with our services for Intelligent Edge transformation. Come see me at HPE Discover in Madrid later this month to continue learning about digital workspaces in my session: “Drive revenues, loyalty and trusted engagement through IoT-enabled Intelligent Spaces.”

In addition, we'll have a demo to experience a modern, innovative, IoT-enabled digital workplace with four unique neighborhoods. The reception area engages visitors and employees in new ways with guest registration, auto-wifi onboarding and our employee mobile app. The desking area shows personalized workspaces using location services and dynamic reservation technologies. Engage in Microsoft 365-based collaboration in the co-creation area. Finally, experience smarter conference spaces with dynamic occupancy sensing, multi-device wireless display sharing and IoT room control. Find it next to the HPE Pointnext pavillion!

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About the Author

JordanWhitmarsh

Jordan Whitmarsh is a global solution strategist and digital advisor for HPE Pointnext. He focuses on helping customers accelerate their digital transformation journey in an edge centric, data driven and cloud enabled world.

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