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There's been a lot of talk over the past few years about augmented reality - being able to layer digital experiences and information over the top of what you're actually seeing in front of you. Google glass, layard and a host of other apps have been offering this for a while now and consumers are starting to show an interest.
However, so far what we have seen has been somewhat experimental and has relied on inserting a digital layer between the customer and the experience. So what if we can get to augmented digital, where the real world manipulates the digital world?
Some people may dismiss the notion of augmented digital as playing with semantics but, in my opinion, we are entering a new evolutionary phase where there is actually a difference. For example, ibeacons. IBeacons are making waves in retail environments because they offer a new way to augment the customer experience. Rather than having customers in-store looking at the world through their phone - the augmented reality approach, the real world is being enhanced by adding more content. This new content is currently in the form of data sheets, coupons and vouchers and on-screen video and it's all been driven by what the customer me is actually doing.
What this means is that the customers digital experience is now being augmented by what the customer is doing in the real world - where they are in store, how much time they spent in particular departments and then the usual metrics of products purchased, money spent, complaints made, items returned etc.
This change is quite significant as it shows a new way to use digital, devices and big data to provide the appropriate real world experience. There is no longer a need to dictate customer behaviour to augment the real world by making them see the world through apps or glasses. Instead, customer behaviour can now dictate the digital experience and to me this marks the start of a new age of augmented digital.
For retailers themselves this also marks the start of a new phase where offline data now contributes to the big data pot. The single customer view which we hear of so much in digital has been extended to include the real world too. So, in as much as customers have an omni-channel view of the world, brands can now get an omni-channel view of their customers.
What this means is that rather than look at our customers in a silo or channel, we can now just look at our complete customer and this is probably the most exciting opportunity of all.
Image source: http://www.breedcommunications.com/blog/retail-ity-bites-how-augmented-reality-is-changing-the-customer-journey/