Volume 21, Number 16 -- April 23, 2012

What's Your Digital Personality?

Published: April 23, 2012

by Jenny Thomas

No, you haven't accidentally clicked over to the results of the latest Teen Beat poll. IBM recently released the results of a survey that reveals an individual's digital behavior, part of IBM's continued effort to help its customers understand and capture the elusive and growing digital consumer.

You might be wondering how this news is relevant to the IBM i aficionados who rely on IT Jungle for all things i-related? So let's go straight to the most interesting finding from this survey before we hash through the details and discover your digital personality: IBM's Beyond Digital study discovered that the majority of the rapidly changing audience that is adopting a wide range of digital devices at a dizzying pace are not college students, as one might assume. That's right. The new digital world is being taken over by people like you and me!

IBM surveyed 3,800 consumers in six countries--China, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States for this study--and met with global representatives in broadcasting, publishing, media service agencies, and telecommunication providers, to evaluate digital consumption behaviors. The survey takers came from a broad range of ages, and it was the findings from the more mature group that we might find most relevant:

  • 65 percent of respondents aged 55 to 64 report surfing the Web and texting with friends while watching TV.
  • Of those over age 65 watching TV, 49 percent surf the Web and 30 percent are texting
  • 82 percent of surveyed global consumers aged 18 to 64 are embracing connected digital devices

No discrimination here: Digital devices span the ages.

We've previously reported that IT managers have been seeing the creep of personal digital devices into their shops. But the results of this survey show that figuring out how your sales person can pull reports on her iPad is not the only thing companies need to be concerned about. In addition to meeting the needs for digital integration of employees within an organization, businesses must begin to practice the new rules for engaging existing and new customers. Sorry, but digitizing content and tossing it on a Web site just isn't going to cut it anymore. In today's world, it's all about providing a personalized experience.

"Media companies need to engage with consumers based on their digital personalities, if they are going to maintain a sustainable and connected relationship," said Saul Berman, global strategy consulting leader of IBM Global Business Services, and a co-author of the study. "With the mass infiltration of digital devices, organizations can now enhance, extend, or redefine the customer experience within minutes due to a steady stream of real-time data via social media. Future success is dependent upon successfully executing on insights based on this data, to reach the right consumer, at the right time and place, using the right tools."

IBM's study identified four "digital personalities" that have different habits and needs when it comes to their digital device usage. Understanding these personalities can help companies devise ways of reaching different types of customers.

  • Efficiency Experts: This is the largest category, with 41 percent of respondents being identified as Experts. These respondents use digital devices and services to simplify day-to-day activities, such as sending emails rather than letters, using social media sites to communicate with others, accessing the Internet via mobile phones, and shopping online.
  • Content Maestros: 35 percent of those surveyed take a more advanced approach to media consumption by using mobile devices and smartphone applications to access games, music, and videos, or to check news, weather, sports, etc.
  • Social Butterflies: The Butterflies require instant access to friends, regardless of time or place. This personality was identified in 15 percent of survey participants, who reported they frequently maintain and update social networking sites, add labels or tags to online photos, and view videos from other users.
  • Content Kings: This is the smallest personality group at just 9 percent, and is generally male consumers who frequently play online games, download movies and music, and watch TV online.

Finding ways to reach these different personalities is an obvious challenge, but understanding the personalities is a good place to start. Regardless of personality type, it is becoming clear that more and more consumers want instant access to personalized content on their own terms. So if you want their business, you're going to have to find ways to provide content specific to the user wherever they might roam in the digital space.

For instance, in looking at media and entertainment companies, the IBM study found that payment infrastructures need to be flexible and scalable to allow a variety of innovative pricing approaches to attract consumers with different preferences to their content. The need for payment option flexibility, even for the same set of consumers, is apparent by looking at those most active in adopting new devices. This group's preferred mode of payment to watch a movie through the Web by viewing advertising that is included with the movie (39 percent of this segment chose this option), while they prefer to see movies on a tablet by purchasing a subscription (chosen by 36 percent). But to watch movies on a smartphone, they prefer pay per use (the payment choice of 36 percent).

These types of analytics allow media companies to take advantage of existing consumer data to understand audience sentiment, online personalities, and behavior, and can be used to develop targeted advertising campaigns and personalized offers, as well as better customer service.

As an aside, the study also found that consumers in China and the U.S. are moving away from traditional forms of media, with more than 50 percent using online sources for breaking news. Where are you reading your IT Jungle newsletters? On your phone or tablet? Using our RSS feed? Feel free to let us know.

In case you're wondering, I am fairly certain I am some sort of a hybrid mix of Social Butterfly and Efficiency Expert, but I aspire to be a Maestro because it sounds cooler.


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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik, Victor Rozek,
Jenny Thomas, Hesh Wiener, Alex Woodie
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
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