Consumer Products of the Future Will Be Born Digital

By Thought Leaders Archives
Cover image for  article: Consumer Products of the Future Will Be Born Digital

Digital transformation and business disruption from new technology is inevitable. Every CEO and board knows it. The only question is what exactly to do about it. As Charles Darwin told us, it's not the strongest of the species, nor the most intelligent, that survive, but the one most adaptable to change. Twenty percent of global market leaders will lose their No. 1 position to a company founded after 2000 because they couldn't adapt and create a new digital business advantage. The digital giants of today's information economy -- from Uber, Amazon and Google to Netflix, Facebook and Airbnb -- are those with agile, intelligent, personalized data platforms. They relentlessly network the vast volumes of user-generated data at their disposal to continually refine the individualization of their services at ever-expanding scale.

This cloud-powered connectivity is creating new, more valuable tools for transportation, retail, entertainment and every other aspect of our personal and professional lives. Whatever the industry, data is the beating heart of the smart, digital products and services that have come to define a new era of customer experience and brand engagement.

In order to compete in this new economy, product manufacturers need to generate the same level of insight and value from their products and the consumers who buy and use them. To do this, they will need a new layer in the enterprise stack -- a platform for creating and interpreting digital intelligence in their products.

Consumer expectations are increasingly set by the best mobile, social, real-time web experiences they encounter, and this is now moving to the physical world. If Uber can have a limo outside our door in minutes with a couple of smartphone taps, why can't all our everyday products be cleverer, more characterful, more connected and more valuable?

Now they can. Our vision is to connect the billions of everyday consumer products made and sold every year to the web, to make those products intelligent, interactive and trackable, and by doing so to make them more valuable to their manufacturers and create more engaging and inspiring experiences for the consumers who buy and use them. This means your clothing can recommend other items or accessories to go with it, a medicine pack can remind you when to take the pills, and food products can authenticate the provenance of ingredients that have been digitally tracked from farm to fork.

This is how modern consumer products should be conceptualized and made in the emerging digital-first landscape. We call this approach #BornDigital™. This term refers to products that are given unique digital identities at the point of manufacture. We've made giant strides towards realizing this vision, as we work in partnership with some of the world's leading consumer product packaging and labelling companies -- including Avery Dennison, Crown and WestRock -- to integrate a new standard in smart, digital products right at the manufacturing source.

Think of the physical object as only half of the product. The other half is the corresponding digital identity, and the associated data, stored in the cloud. This identity and data package remains attached to the physical item throughout its full lifecycle and evolves as data is gathered through interactions with the product. This in turn unlocks potential value for the manufacturer, the consumer or both at each stage in the product lifecycle -- from manufacture and distribution to point of sale, post-purchase use by the consumer and even recycling, reuse and disposal.

The potential benefits to brands and consumers of #BornDigital™ products are rich and varied. Take product traceability as one example: #BornDigital™ products are more easily tracked through the entire supply chain, simplifying the identification and removal of faulty ingredients, components or batches and mitigating the financial and reputational risks associated with loss, theft, damage, delivery delays or product recalls. Real-time geolocation data can also be used to pinpoint misdirected shipments or potentially fraudulent activity, or to more accurately track sales.

Digitized packaging and labeling can also enable brands to make more imaginative use of product real estate to provide consumers with dynamic information, such as care instructions for apparel products, or information about ethical sourcing of materials and sustainable manufacturing processes. Brands can also connect their intelligent product data with the ecosystem of other digital products and services on the web. This lets them access new opportunities for innovation and growth, providing consumers with enhanced experiences built around loyalty rewards, personalized lifestyle recommendations, brand transparency and more, all with the product itself as the digital interface and media channel.

To demonstrate the creative potential of #BornDigital™ products, Evrything recently collaborated with apparel packaging partner Avery Dennison RBIS and up-and-coming New York fashion brand Rochambeau, showcasing how smart clothing delivers added value to consumers. We introduced the Bright Bmbr jacket, which included NFC and QR labels and tags that allowed the wearer to unlock VIP experiences around New York, as well as exclusive gifts, design stories and artwork.

Ultimately, the power of #BornDigital™ is helping businesses win the race for new customers and revolutionize the ways in which their products are made, shipped, sold and used. Information and communications technology will inevitably transform every industry, and IoT connectivity, smart products and the real-time flow of transparent, actionable data is at heart of that shift. The future for brands and retailers -- like the new generation of consumers for whom connectivity is a natural condition of life -- is products Born Digital.

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