Consumers and businesses alike have never had access to so much information - or more trouble turning the raw data that surrounds us into something useful.
A new type of business has arisen to solve this problem, either for consumers or for businesses. We're well placed to see the massive potential in all this unstructured data, having helped major multi-channel retailers and manufacturers like Sony extract meaningful insights from the flood of information.
Although the consumer electronics and travel sectors are much better known for their adoption of social commerce tools, the automotive sector has rapidly caught up. Reviews and ratings are now nearly as popular among car buyers (80% check reviews before purchase), as travel bookers (88% check reviews pre-purchase).
On the wall of our London office, we have the words "if everything's under control, you're not going fast enough" printed large. We've always moved fast as a company but in the last 12 months we've broken records - and still managed to keep everything under control.
Will social commerce (or mobile commerce, or hyper-local commerce integration, or Facebook shops...) will become the new norm for all consumers? By getting caught up by black-and-white questions like this, we risk missing the true complexity of multi-channel shopping.
Multichannel does not mean that all consumers will use all the channels available to them. By neglecting consumer preferences, we risk missing the opportunity to make our interactions with consumers as engaging as possible - and seriously risk alienating consumers.
Our Manifesto was recently dicsussed on Radio 4's consumer affairs show, You and Yours, where the in-house consumer advocates seemed impressed by our commitment to publishing all reviews - good or bad, 5 or 500.
You can listen to the program again on BBC iPlayer (starting from 23.35 minutes in), or read the transcript:
The obvious benefit of hosting Q&As on your site is that it removes doubts from the minds of consumers and helps them make a purchasing decision, giving businesses a healthy bump to their conversion. But how can this user generated content contribute to your SEO strategy?