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Published July 23rd 2015

Marketing: The Age of Convergence and Why It Affects Marketers

Everything we do now leaves a trail of data behind us; a path of breadcrumbs that intricately reveals our daily activity.

Publishing our thoughts and updating our statuses is coupled with an increasingly sophisticated network of tracking technologies, from cookie-enabled targeting to store loyalty cards.

This digital footprint creates an incomprehensibly massive volume of data.

This data also proves to be the lifeblood of many apps and tech companies.

The likes of Facebook and Google have built their empires on a mountain of consumer data, but it’s a trade off that consumers have embraced: the runaway success of services like Netflix, Airbnb, Spotify, Uber, Fitbit and Kindle have all proved testament to the public’s desire to adopt new technologies for the sake of convenience.


The age of convergence

The past five years, as mentioned, has witnessed a proliferation of new products and services, each designed to make our lives easier, richer and cheaper – with the only cost being extra personal data, not extra cash.

Now that so many industries have been thoroughly disrupted by these new technologies, and the era of having ‘an app for that’ now seeming like something of an anachronism, the next few years represent a different kind of change.

There is unlikely to be many new major players in sectors like taxi booking, music streaming or accommodation providers in the same dramatic manner that has happened already this decade. Instead, another trend is emerging: convergence.

The early signs are here. The ability to select music in your cab, with the Spotify integration in Uber, is one of the most obvious of such convergence.

uspo_press_v03_aIntegrated services for complimentary products like Xbox and Netflix, Fitbit and Philips Hue, Amazon and Paypal, plus just about every single service including social sharing buttons all further cement the continued emergence of cross-functionality.

Uber’s own announcement that it is to make its request API available for use in other applications again underlines this shift.

Giving users the ability to hail Uber cabs in other apps is good for the third party app because it offers broader functionality; good for Uber because it offers more places for users to request cabs; and good for the consumer because it extends choice and adds convenience.

The enormously popular IF, formerly known as If That Then This (IFTTT), even allows users to cook up their own recipe to blend products together in ways in which their original was unable.

With more data come more opportunity for blended data – the chance for complementary services to be witnessed in more places, and the amalgamation of multiple datasets for businesses.

The environment of convergence

The relatively new Braintree Paypal provides another perfect example of such convergence.

Consumers – and businesses – are certainly open to new methods of payment.

Contactless cards, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Square, Bitcoin and Paypal’s own ascendancy not too long ago all point to a strong desire to adopt new technologies for payment.

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 11.26.06 AM 

The problem lies in having to maintain separate applications and profiles to use each one. Braintree is among the first to offer a conglomerated service for using many of them through one portal.

Convergence in the enterprise

With the consumer landscape undeniably headed toward a future of blended data – multiple datasets and cross-functionality made available in each place – what of the prospects for businesses?

When considering enterprise products, such as martech, many organizations have embraced this sentiment by adopting suite technologies.

A suite, in theory, means that marketers have access to the many different strands of functionality that most enterprises now need – from online publishing to email marketing.

However, this philosophy begins to fall apart when inspected more closely.

Consumers haven’t been asking Uber to develop a music streaming service for their taxis; the demand instead was for an integration between the leading music app and the leading cab app.

The same goes for enterprise tech.

Expecting one vendor to offer everything to the top standard demanded is unwise.

Similarly, choosing to work with the best product in each function area and expecting them all to work together can be fraught with trouble too, especially when many tools remain extremely uncooperative in how they perform.

So where does the answer to building a quality marketing stack lie? In the same place it lies for consumers.

Technology vendors must pay attention to these trends and run with them.

Learning from Uber, Spotify and Paypal, enterprise tech must make sure their technologies are open, flexible and come with freely available APIs and ecosystems of connections to other functions.

It needs to be easy. Datasets must be shared and the technology needs to morph to meet the requirements of the business. Every one is different, after all.

This applies to us at Brandwatch too. We’ve been developing a slick, robust API over the past three years, which is designed to work with a great number of systems.

Our growing family of partner vendors is also aimed at offering Brandwatch functionality and data in the kind of convenient places that a marketer would want them in.

But the work is not done yet, and as we continue to build out our 2015 and 2016 roadmap, it’s with the mentality of democratic data and open functionality in mind.

Expect to see a future of convergence; a place where it’s even easier for marketers to choose the best product for all of their needs – not at a cost to their convenience, but for a boost to it.

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