Trends in Two Minutes is a monthly bulletin of trends hitting businesses across Asia-Pacific with a focus on marketing and communications. 
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The Very Real Lure Of Blockchain In Asia-Pacific

Many industries will soon be shifting from hypothetical blockchain solutions to actual strategies. While typically associated with finance, the technology is expected to have a significant impact on sectors as far removed as pharmaceuticals and sport. And, with countries like Japan, Malaysia and, most recently, Thailand embracing the technology, it’s highly likely this impact will be felt keenly in Asia Pacific.

After years of existing outside legislation, blockchain is now being actively embraced by governments around the world. In August, Thailand officially announced the development of their own blockchain currency. It was just the latest in a series of global regulatory developments underscoring that the once-fringe technology has entered the mainstream lexicon in a very real way.

Communicators may wish to familiarise themselves with the technology and how it may impact their specific sectors in the near future. Whether intent on adopting the technology or not, brands will increasingly find themselves confronting audiences or competitors with their own views and commitments to blockchain – and may need to account for this in their communications.

Seeing Double (Or Triple): Refining Multi-Screen Storytelling

One of the defining traits of younger audiences, multi-screen engagement is popular among both Millennials and Generation Z. The latter in particular, are known to typically engage across five screens at once. As these generations become the predominant consumer demographics worldwide, multi-screen storytelling is becoming increasingly vital for brand communications.

This is not a new phenomenon. Presently, 90% of media consumption screen-based – and 70% of people engaging with content do so across multiple screens. However, with evolving audiences engaging across a wider spectrum of screens and experiences, it’s more important than ever before to ensure that each screen is fully optimised and presented as part of an integrated strategy.

For example, with sports, multi-screen usage is simultaneous – audiences view a number of different platforms at the same time to engage with a central event. Conversely, different markets (or older demographics) will engage with different screens sequentially. An evolving news story glimpsed throughout the day on different platforms, for example.

In terms of purchase behaviour, different demographics may also have very different expectations of what information they require from each screen and when they need to access it. To effectively engage modern audiences, storytelling needs to flow as a fully integrated and sustained experience; even as that experience spans many different screens.

AI Bots – A Double-Edged Sword?

It’s currently estimated that, by 2026, the global digital bots market will be worth US$5.3 billion. The same study predicted that the rapid rate of technological adoption in Asia Pacific will result in the market being a key growth area for chatbots and similar technology. However, consumer attitudes towards the phenomenon remain unclear.

According to The State of Chatbots 2018, for example, 69% of consumers prefer chatbots to apps for quick answers to simple questions and 24-hour service. By contrast, recent research has found that 59% of people surveyed believe businesses are too focused on automation to deliver a genuine customer experience – with the same research finding 3 out of 5 were prepared to immediately drop a brand after being treated poorly.

Taken in its entirety, research emphasises that execution is key. If implemented with thought and consideration, AI and chatbots can help streamline a business and deliver new opportunities. (Forbes reports potential ROIs as high as 400%, for example.) But, to do so, brands need to ensure that a bot presents a helpful and memorable customer experience.

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