“Today is the slowest rate of technological change you will ever experience in your lifetime,” wrote Shelly Palmer in his e-book Data-Driven Thinking.
These words will strike absolute terror into many business owners who are just only getting their head round the online marketing and mobile communications. Even today, it is staggering how little understanding there is of today's digital world.
Yet just around the corner is a totally alien landscape where technology will continue to affect the way we live our lives in a dramatic fashion.
It all stems from Moore's Law. In 1965, Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel forecast that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit would double approximately every two years.
In layman's terms, this meant that more and more information could be loaded onto ever smaller microchips, allowing them to perform ever more complex procedures. A simple indication of how this has manifested itself is comparing an iPhone 7 from 2017 with a ZX80 from 1980.
The iPhone, which is essentially a computer in your pocket, has a staggering 128,000,000,000 times the memory of the ZX80, which had a memory of just 1k (equivalent to a one-line email today).
Which brings us to where we are today. This miniaturisation of computer chips into everything from phones, watches, fridges, cars and even humans (check out this article) is changing everything we do and ushering in a whole range of new trends.
Newsfeeds - as a human race, more and more of us now receive the majority of our news and content from screens where we tailor the content. Whether it be Facebook, the BBC news app or Sky Sports News, these are our windows on the world. So if you are a business, you need to make sure you look your best on these feeds.
E-sports - this is a fast-growing sector of the entertainment market where consumers are paying to watch people gaming online. Many people, not only the under 30s, spend large amounts of time and money watching their favourite stars play. Here’s an excellent article explaining the industry.
Social search - no longer is it OK just to be found on Google. You need to be visible wherever your customers may be looking for you. This could be Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook, which even has its own search engine called Graph Search. It’s all about being visible wherever your customers need to find you.
Facebook Messenger - once a way to private message, now a potential B2C website killer, offering customers the opportunity for customer engagement and e-commerce. It’s even introducing Chatbots who can engage and even negotiate with customers.
Virtual and augmented reality - not just about Pokemon Go, this is the next dimension for social media and marketing with large implications for business. Indeed Facebook’s next generation will be in the Third Dimension where Friends will be able to communicate virtually with one another via their avatars.
Programmatic advertising - it's all about targeting individuals based around their needs, wants and personality rather than the throw-mud-at-the-wall approach. NFC, re-targeting and Facebook advertising are just a few examples of using powerful data and targeting to deliver tailored content to new audiences.
Internet of things - IoT is where we move from the internet being based inside computers to existing inside a range of devices and even us! Connected cars, fridges and heating systems are becoming the norm. Plus as connectivity improves around the globe, expect the internet to become a uniquely ubiquitous phenomenon.
Artificial intelligence - AI or Machine Learning is already being used to replace humans cheaply and efficiently. A simple example is the use of chatbots as referenced earlier. Call centre operatives, book keepers and even doctors could see their jobs under threat from computers. Our challenge is to adapt as a human race to this techonology.
Algorithms - linked to AI and newsfeeds, like it or not, our lives are now being governed by complex mathematical formulae. Google has a very well-kept algorithm while Facebook has upwards of 1,400 variables which govern what we see (or not!) on the site. We don’t control these but need to learn to work with them.
Live streaming – anyone, regardless of where they are or what they do, is now effectively a live broadcaster thanks to the likes of Facebook Live, Periscope and YouTube Live. This is a serious game-changer for almost all businesses as you can now engage live with your customers in a virtual setting.
Blockchain – this is the ultimate evolution of the internet into something remarkable. Say Don and Alex Tapscott, authors of the Blockchain Revolution: “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
So how geared up is your business to meet these challenges? Are you constantly evolving your strategy or do you prefer a world where computers were the size of offices and telephones were used for talking on!