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Disrupt, or be disrupted: data, digital, and the future of the wellness industry

At Technogym’s recent Digital Transformation Event, delegates weree captivated by a keynote from Andrew Grill, Practical Futurist and FormerGlobal Managing Partner at IBM, who gave the audience his insights of digital developments, in order to get ahead of the latest trends and consumer habits.

Data offers us a powerful way to create personalised customer journeys to extend retention and encourage loyalty.

Siri, tell me exactly how my business will change over the next year…” Wouldn’t it be great to have a crystal ball (or a disembodied voice on your smartphone) to tell us what the near future holds for fitness businesses? We went one better: getting access to a Practical Futurist. Andrew Grill - futurologist and thought leader on all things digital - spoke at our 2019 UK Digital Transformation Event. And he had unmissable advice for operators and facility owners who want to take control of the opportunities offered by digital developments.

Why Fitness Businesses Need To Transform

Wellness brands need to innovate to prevent falling behind - let alone to stay ahead of the pack. Our Digital Transformation Event aimed to demystify digital developments, giving you the power to see digital as opportunities, not threats.

Everyone in this industry wants to improve things for the consumer, said Andrew Grill, speaking at our event. I’d like you to consider three big benefits to embracing digital: efficiency, effectiveness, and disruption. With just a few changes, you can start using digital developments to create a better experience for your customers, so they stick with you for longer.

Here’s a round-up of our keynote speaker’s predictions - and his very practical recommendations. Don’t ignore them. They are the future - and it’s not far away.

The Three Forces of Disruption

Uber, Airbnb, and (closer to home) the boutique fitness model have all disrupted their industries. Andrew showed us why disruption occurs, and why this matters for fitness businesses.

Disruption happens when there are profits to be made, when there is new technology, and when consumer demand forces change, he explained. Every company needs to disrupt themselves if they want to adapt. In the Wellness industry, the boutique model has offered a non-subscription model, but the customer will only keep paying when they are getting value. If you stand still, the disrupters will come in.

Challenge set, Andrew guided us through the digital landscape and showed us what we can do right now to stay ahead.

Digital Is Changing The Customer Journey

Digital technology - including wearables, apps, and tracking tech - is already changing your customers’ health and fitness experience. In fact, your members possess more data than they’ve ever had. But nobody in the industry seems confident about what to do with that information. Andrew had some suggestions.
Data is powerful, and the customer knows it, he said. They can up and leave any time, taking their data with them. This gives the consumer the upper hand. I don’t see enough businesses in this industry making best use of data. You need to start using it to add more value. Forward thinking facilities will use data to create a consumer experience that keeps people coming back.

Turning Customer Data Into Action

Our industry has access to mind-blowing amounts of customer (and public) data. Some is captured by our own systems, but more of it is with the customer (usually on their wrist). We need to make that data work for us, so we can see trends coming, predict our next move, and make better decisions.
Operators capture an enviable amount of data, but not everyone knows what to do with it - or even how much they have, said Andrew. It goes beyond which products are popular, how long people stay for, and what time of day different areas of the gum are busy. What about how customers are using the wifi in the gym? If you dig deeper into that data, you can make it work for you.
At the end of 2016, Transport for London carried out a four-week trial, piloting the tracking of travellers’ wifi use on the tube network. In just four weeks, TfL captured valuable data about journey times, routes, and commuter decisions. What could you learn from analysing wifi use in your facility? Andrew advised us to move beyond capturing data. Look at the data you already have and start analysing it to spot trends. Smart use of data means you get ahead, becoming proactive, not reactive.
We mustn’t forget the wealth of data on customers’ gadgets, apps, and wearables. Andrew challenged us to make more of this - but had a note of caution.

A lot of this data is proprietary, and you can only access it by asking the customer’s permission, he said. This is one compelling reason for gym owner to buy digital. How can you work with fitness kit, and apps like Technogym mywellness cloud, to access that data and make it work for you and your customer? The more you can know about your users between gym visits, the more you can give them a reason to stay. Use data to make the entire customer journey work seamlessly, so they have no reason to go anywhere else.

How can you work with fitness kit, and apps like Technogym mywellness cloud, to access that data and make it work for you and your customer?

Live Customers Or Digital Agents?

Our smartphones already know everything about our preferences and our routines. Andrew predicts we are not far away from having digital agents in everyday life.

Smartphone data plus developments in AI will manifest itself as digital agents,” he said. These bits of tech will take over the mundane, replicable chores of life. Your customers might soon use digital agents to book classes like Group Cycle or Skillbike Classes, or ask about membership. It also means your marketing department will have to start writing ad copy for robots, not for humans. These digital agents will be a gatekeeper, a bit like a PA. It’s already happening, so get ahead and start using it in your facility.

Pay Attention To These Big Changes In Data

2019 saw two significant digital changes, and Andrew thinks we should embrace them. He talked about API (Application Programming Interface) and GDPR. Thanks to APIs, we can now give other systems access to our data and let them process it. Remember, there is so much value in data, so make sure you can access and share data from anyone you work with. Do you have an API, and do you ask if partners and suppliers have an API strategy?.

GDPR might still strike fear into the hearts of your marketing team, but it actually presents an amazing opportunity for value exchange, enticing customers to hand over more of that priceless data.

This is a powerful time for personal data. With the average gym membership lasting just 8 months, data offers us a powerful way to create personalised customer journeys to extend retention and encourage loyalty.

The more you can know about your users between gym visits, the more you can give them a reason to stay.

GDPR is here to stay, and it forces us to sift through data to see what is relevant, said Andrew. Think about the value exchange - why should customers give you their data? They want to trust you and know you will offer them something in return.  There is always a balance between the data we want and the data our customers hold. Show your members you will use their data sensitively, and tell them what they’ll get in return. Otherwise they may well keep it to themselves - or take it somewhere else.


Four Things To Do In 2019

Andrew is a future-focused practical advisor, so of course he had some actionable steps for us. Within a generation, we will have total control of our fitness and wellness data, he said. In theory, we’ll possess all the information we need to augment our bodies. But we will still be fallible humans, with flaws and emotions. You don’t have the luxury of a generation to get this stuff right. There’s plenty you can start doing right now to get ahead.

1) Digital Diversity

Make sure your business has people with digital skills at management level. They need a fundamental understanding of how digital can change your business, and can tell you how millennials (and older customers) are thinking about digital innovations.

2) Educate Yourself

To get digital, you need to be digital. So get curious about this stuff. Don’t be put off by it. Challenge yourself to learn more about upcoming trends and digital terms, rather than getting scared off by the hype.

3) Data Audit

Data is immensely powerful, and you can probably be making more of it. Understand what data you have, what you need, and what your customers have.

4) Future-proof Your Business

Make sure you have connectivity between your own systems (apps, fitness platforms, CRM) and those of your partners and suppliers. You need API for easy data transfer. Think about API now to future proof your business.

The wellness industry has enviable access to our customers time and data. Digital puts us in a powerful position. “Disrupt or you will be disrupted,” said Andrew Grill. What are you doing to embrace digital and be a forward-thinking fitness business?

Ready to embrace digital?

We’ve been helping businesses interact with their customers, over the years we’ve gained a wealth of experience by working in partnership with our customers. Mywellness helps businesses futureproof and embrace digital ever since. Click the link below to discover more and understand how mywellness cloud – the Wellness Lifestyle CRM, can support your business’s own digital transformation journey.

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