It’s a cold winter’s night. On my way home, I log into my Telstra Smart Home™ app to turn on the porch light and heater, helping to ensure I get back safe and warm. These connected devices are part of an exciting and challenging digital era, and with an estimated 75 billion expected by 2020, our customers are demanding more personalised experiences.

There’s also a growing shift towards video consumption on mobile – when young Australians watch video they reach for the screen in their pocket ahead of the TV remote. This demand will only continue to grow, and we expect that by 2021, video will drive 70% of volumes across mobile networks.

On a recent trip to the US, I had the pleasure of visiting organisations that are leading a truly digital customer experience. One of the most surprising examples of this was the Carnival Cruises ‘Ocean Medallion’ – a wearable gift each passenger receives prior to departure that allows them to personalise every aspect of their holiday from check-in, shopping and entertainment to ordering cocktails to be delivered poolside using geolocation technology whilst in the middle of the ocean.

Companies need to be thinking about how they can develop solutions to lead this change. Best in class companies are digitising their entire customer facing processes across all channels to provide a consistent experience for customers. Technology plays a big role in this transformation as companies move from selling products and services to having customers engaging with brands in more meaningful ways. As customer expectations continue to increase, they expect to not only engage across all touch points but that companies use the data they have about them to personalise their customer experience.

What this means is taking the elements of each channel and combining them to deliver a more valuable, omni-channel experience for customers. For example, US fashion retailer Macy’s has integrated the convenience of web browsing in their physical stores by offering a ‘search and send’ service. If a product is unavailable in-store, staff can arrange for it to be picked up from another location or shipped to a customer’s home.

Meanwhile Telstra is designing stores, call centres and the online experience to bring the benefits to life in a way that is individually personalised and relevant to our customers. Our flagship Discovery stores showcase the latest innovations in digital technology that allow customers to switch between physical and digital experiences as they explore, discover, try and buy. Similarly in an Australian fashion retail first, Mimco partnered with Telstra to create an interactive touch table that identifies product information in its Pitt Street Mall store in Sydney.

The explosion of mobile devices and social media is changing how we connect and make buying decisions which, in turn, is changing the way companies service their customers. Understanding our customers’ needs, interests and purchase history is a key priority here to help us create refined value propositions for our customers.