Business Management

Scarlette Leung (Asia) - Innovative Multi-touch Technology Creating a New Interactive Social Entertainment Generation

Because Hong Kong has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world, it is especially important to understand how mobile usage is changing consumer behaviour. One important change smartphones, and more recently tablets, have sparked, is the rise of multi-touch interfaces, which have dramatically transformed the user experience and created new, highly innovative business opportunities. More and more enterprises are beginning to see multi-touch technology as a business development tool, ideal for reaching today's tech-savvy, social media-loving young generation.

Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have become a major trend, with their multi-touch screens allowing users to interact with information in more efficient, intuitive ways. The penetration of smartphones and mobile tablets in Hong Kong is high and rising. Last year, Google conducted a survey of global smartphone usage. The findings revealed that Hong Kong has the third highest smartphone penetration in the world, behind Singapore and Australia. Of the 2,000 Hong Kongers surveyed, 35% said they were smartphone users. The findings also revealed that the average number of apps installed on a Hong Kong smartphone is 30, the highest in the Asia Pacific region. Moreover, 57% of respondents use a smartphone to share information every day on social networks, far more than the number who access social networks with a PC.

Besides the popularity of sharing and updating information via mobile, demand for mobile interactive entertainment is increasing. Gartner, the world's leading research and advisory company, forecast in 2011 that mobile app development projects (for smartphones and tablets) will outnumber native PC projects by four to one in 2015, including those for entertainment and gaming. Users inexorably move towards a more interactive, immediate, and seamless entertainment experience.

Multi-touch experience addresses consumer demand

The soaring popularity of mobile devices means that many people know first-hand the enjoyment and convenience of multi-touch technology and this drives them to seek out multi-touch in other arenas. Many enterprises have begun trying to adjust their existing business models in response - addressing a customer lifestyle where multi-touch input is the norm.

Enterprises with footprints in entertainment vying for industry leadership have to provide an innovative, easy to use and highly interactive multi-touch entertainment channel to address customer expectations. The Hong Kong Jockey Club (the Club) is one such enterprise, having conducted a survey about two years ago to better understand the evolving needs of customers whose lifestyles routinely involve collecting, studying and exchanging information through digital channels. Not only do enterprises need to respond by providing services that are fast and convenient, they also need to offer these services in the social, interactive manner that such customers have come to expect.

Interactive entertainment technology creates innovative experience

The Club has added integrated technology to the racing entertainment experience, a key innovation that promises to forever change the way the horse racing industry connects with and engages its audiences. In April this year, the Club introduced the IBU, the world's largest multi-touch table interface, at its re-launched adrenaline bar and lounge. This multi-touch table interface demonstrates how innovative technology can enhance a social environment. For example, the IBU puts a wide array of information and game options literally at the customer's fingertips, providing a cutting-edge race day experience that caters to the demand for instant access to real-time information. In turn, players spend less time on analyzing and more time enjoying this mind game. This kind of innovation has had such an impact that industries involved in much more complex information analysis, such as the financial and banking industries, are expected to adopt their own versions of the technology.

Back-end technology implementation is a crucial element too. Anonymous, contactless radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is the big trend these days, like the JTap smartcard system used in the IBU. This lets customers simply ‘touch and go', and appeals to the environmentally conscious side of today's consumer by providing a totally quick and green transaction.

As our lifestyle evolves, it is critical for enterprises in all consumer industries to equip themselves with the ability to develop and maintain digital innovations in their businesses, in order to meet the growing demand for social entertainment, and to enable improved efficiencies in customer service overall. By keeping pace with technological and digital trends, they will be able to unlock opportunities to develop new markets and meet customers' changing demands.

By Ms. Scarlette Leung, Director of Corporate Business Planning and Programme Management of the Hong Kong Jockey Club



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