With all due respect, Star Trek got the future wrong in this one important respect.
Like millions of others, I have a fond spot in my aural memory for the voice of Patrick Stewart. With his enviably erudite accent, Stewart played Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise D, and in the process resurrected the Star Trek franchise from the campy overdrama of William Shatner's Captain James T. Kirk. Among the many things Stewart's voice intoned with such high confidence, one that is instantly recognizable to fans like me is: "Computer, tea, Early Grey, hot."
In the fantasy world of the Starship Enterprise, the computer was an omnipresence, an intelligence that could interact with you verbally but also directed visual information to touchscreens nearby when needed. The computer could also control lighting, ship systems, and -- as so lovingly demonstrated in the above clip -- food replicators. Sounds a lot like Amazon's Alexa, doesn't it? Star Trek is famously credited with previsioning a lot of technology we have today, from PDAs, mobile phones and, hopefully soon, tricorders. You can, in fact, assign your Amazon Echo to respond to the command "computer" instead of Alexa, should you wish.
But this simple sentence, "Computer, tea, Early Grey, hot," as right a description of the future as it is, also got the future completely wrong. Setting aside the question of whether we'll ever have food replicators, if we examine what the phrase suggests about human-computer interaction in the future, we can see pretty quickly why Star Trek got this one wrong. Because in the future:
Digital disruption is a fairly well understood dynamic: new entrant uses technology in new ways to upend existing business models and disrupt markets. In other words, digital disruption is a distinct force with a distinct life span that is mostly external to traditional markets and businesses.
But what if it is more than that? What if it is the canary in the coal mine representing the first signals of a shift in our economy and society? Consider the following:
7% of jobs will exit the economy due to automation even if one considers the jobs created specifically by automation. Without the creation of different products or markets (think of the app economy), automation can cause a major shock to developed economies.
We are already seeing early indications of how high-performing, highly liquid platforms (think Facebook) can extend services and experiences into different industries (e.g. banking and peer-to-peer lending) to blur or pummel traditional industry lines and norms.
The next step in Uber is self-driving cars which are moving from a cool idea to a reality – and will cause duress or change in automotive, transportation, and insurance markets (let alone public safety norms).
Artificial intelligence offers up the opportunity to change the health of populations, changing life expectancy, the very nature of diagnostic, surgical, and hospital care, and the economics of health insurance.
One of the key concepts I learned as a geology major at Williams College comes in very handy when analyzing the changes in the TV advertising business over the past few years. Plate tectonics describes giant slabs of the earth's crust that contain the continents and are propelled by the upwelling of molten layers deep in the earth's core. As plate boundaries grind against each other or are pulled apart by these forces, the mega-structures of the earth are formed: mountain ranges, undersea trenches and ocean basins. The San Andreas Fault is probably the best known example of a plate boundary. For decades, or even centuries, there is no apparent movement but once the massive forces can no longer be contained, the plates can move a dramatic distance within seconds, such as the 1989 Loma Prieta quake which exhibited a 7 foot shift in the position of two plates.
What the heck does this have to do with TV advertising? Just as this plate movement builds up tremendous pressures, so have the forces of technology, advertiser demands for better targeting, and the drift of dollars away from TV to digital put pressure on the TV networks. But just as the plates initially resist moving, there has been little movement in TV advertising: The upfronts last year recovered from the down years of 2014 to 2016, there has been little progress in addressable TV, and Nielsen still reigns as the currency of the market. We've seen the TV business resist these technology-driven pressures for at least a decade, so the question is whether the business will gradually change over the next five to 10 years, or will a San Andreas style quake transform the industry in a matter of months?
In March 2017, Bosch hosted its annual internet-of-things (IoT) conference, Bosch Connected World (BCW), in Berlin. Since last year, the event has doubled in size, attracting 2,500 attendees from businesses and vendors. This jump reflects the growing interest in IoT. The number of attendees, however, also highlights the relative immaturity of IoT compared with bigger technology themes. Despite being smaller than events such as GE’s Minds + Machines or Mobile World Congress, BCW has established itself as a premier IoT event, as it has a very distinct “IoT practitioner” feel to it. We took away some key observations for IoT practitioners from the event:
To succeed in IoT, you must build and participate in open ecosystems. No vendor or end user can plan, build, and run end-to-end IoT operations that address the entire customer life cycle. This message comes through loud and clear at all the IoT events that we attend, be it IBM’s Genius of Things or GE’s Minds + Machines, and it was repeated by all the BCW speakers. The notion of coopetition was tangible, with Bosch emphasizing its partnerships with IBM, Software AG, Amazon, GE, SAP, and many more. Also noticeable was that all ecosystem participants are grappling with what it means for the shape of their business and their relationship with the customer.
My former neighbor bought the house next door primarily due to its 9-acre potential. Over the years, I got to see his garden develop from a razed backyard to a well-orchestrated, nearly year-round landscape of seasonal beauty. He’d continually prune out the anemic and plant new varietals that he deemed would more likely thrive in our climate. I was amazed at the ongoing evolution of his garden — and how much of it ended up on his burn pile. But he focused on the success of his garden overall and didn’t overly invest in any one plant, bush, or tree.
Despite his move to the West Coast, I was reminded of my neighbor as I sought a theme that would adequately represent Forrester’s spring webinar series. Today’s marketing leaders’ success depends on their ability to continually balance their investments and programs. So we’ve selected five areas of focus for Forrester’s B2B marketing spring webinar series that balance planting new ideas with pruning existing programs. I hope that you can join us live for them all!
Planting New Ideas: Social Selling And Programmatic Ad Platforms
A riddle: What's the difference between your content and mashed potatoes?
To the technologies that host and deliver your content, the stuff they deliver may just as well be mashed potatoes as text strings or image files.
Even marketers who spend lots of time tagging content know the process is very fallible, often out of date, and only applicable to a handful of pre-selected contexts.
The technology simply doesn't know what the content's actually about, or how it works. It's just content.
The same applies to marketers across the business.
That great video explainer that got made two years ago during another CMO's tenure?
It may as well be a little portion of mashed potatoes buried under a mountain of other mashed potatoes.
Enough of the metaphor. You get it.
Content intelligence changes all that.
It is technology that helps content understand itself - what it's about, how it speaks, how effective it is at accomplishing certain goals, what emotions it calls to mind, etc.
That may sound funny. It is. But it's not necessarily stranger than spellcheck in your word processor.
Thanks to a built-in dictionary, the processor knows that 'recieve' may not be right, and puts a little red line under it.
Content intelligence goes a bit further, in that it's continuously updating itself.
Iimagine a very smart dictionary that automatically absorbed neologisms and understood word choice given context ("you might want to say 'car' here instead of 'automobile'").
But the principle's the same.
And because content's the coin of the digital realm for all things marketing these days, content intelligence delivers a real kick:
Clearly Mobile World Congress has evolved from its origins as a telecom event into one that captures the pervasive uses of connectivity and digital transformation broadly. That evolution has created an enormous, eclectic event. This year 108,000 registered attendees and 2,300 exhibitors contributed to that buzz. One could argue that it provides something for everyone or that it does nothing well – and maybe other events are better investments. However, one thing the event does do is bring together innovators and enable opportunity. That happens in the main event as well as in the increasing number of side events and meetings which appeal to specific audience segments. Attendees looking beyond the classic trade show, with specific objectives in mind, should explore these side events:
4YFN (Four Years From Now) aims to develop the next generation. Launched specifically for startups – and those interested in them – 4YFN attracted almost 20,000 attendees, with 600 startups and 700 investors in attendance this year. The event is not just a trade show but includes 9 competitions and more than 40 workshops in how to launch and develop a business. Startups themselves had the opportunity to pitch to VCs and other investors. A dedicated Founders & Investors Area provided space to meet, discover, show, participate and create business relationships.
Attendees flocked to yet another Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this month, attracted by the buzz of new devices, new technologies, and new business opportunities. This year 108,000 registered attendees and 2,300 exhibitors contributed to that buzz.
While the new devices themselves drew much attention, the full impact of these new toys lies in what is done with them. Some of the opportunities on display reflected what I started to see as a Marvelesque duel of good versus evil. Here are a few examples.
It's Time To Put Mobility To Good
Yes, some are for entertainment purposes only but many hold the potential to “do good.” GSM Association (GSMA) promotes the use of mobile technologies to advance the UN sustainability goals. GSMA’s Big Data For Social Good (BDSG) initiative seeks to leverage the networks of 16 operators and 2 billion connections across 100 countries. That might be using the data for analytics and insights on how to improve provide financial services to the unbanked or extend health services to remote rural areas or to better protect marine mammals. Examples of these solutions on the show floor included:
Got data? But more to the point, got the RIGHT data, and now? Low-friction and fast access to data are top priorities for data/analytics and marketing professionals in 2017. Here’s the picture of priorities: It’s a high or critical priority for 70% of marketing pros to increase their use of data and analytics for marketing measurement and customer insights – their fourth highest priority. Data and analytics pros’ highest priority – at 60% of data and analytics pros – is implementing or expanding their complete view of the customer across channels, and over 50% are providing self-service data preparation tools to business users. Firms are stepping up the pace.
What can help with these priorities? Data preparation tools. To accelerate time-to-insights and therefore time-to-actions, business end users and analysts who today wrangle data in spreadsheets or other traditional tools need direct access to data and a significant power assist. Data preparation tools can provide this power, but they must balance features and functions to support different roles and use cases and enable appropriate manageability, security, and governance in today's enterprises — while at the same time delivering speed-to-value.
There are relatively few products that meet those requirements, despite claims by many. Some true data preparation players are large, established players in the business intelligence (BI) and analytics space that have chosen to market and sell their data prep tool as a standalone offering, while others are pure-play offerings and, within that, emphasize different features and functions.
We’ve been busy finalizing the agenda and speakers for the forthcoming CX Forum in Sydney on May 9. That’s only eight weeks away!
Our focus this year is on exploring the current and emerging best practices for the design and delivery of exceptional customer experiences in digital channels. To put it more simply, we’re going way beyond the why and what to dig deeper into how.
CX and digital marketing professionals need to accelerate the pace of change, so for 2017 we’re deep-diving into four key themes:
The future of digital CX. How can you blend new technologies like bots, artificial intelligence, and digital assistants into your existing digital CX strategies? How do these new tools change customer behavior and expectations? And how will the practice of CX be altered as a result?
CX design and delivery. What are the best practices for creating innovative, distinctive customer journeys that cross functions like sales, marketing, and customer service? How can you truly embrace CX as a team sport?
Technology stack and strategy. How can CX and IT collaborate to tackle new thinking about CX technology strategy and management? How can these groups work together to drive the digital transformation of their entire organizations?
Creating and nurturing a CX-driven culture. How can you deliver sustainable, remarkable experiences? What does it really mean to instill a customer-obsessed culture and what are the hallmarks of a CX-driven organization?