Tech and digital marketing trends in 2017 and beyond

The rapid growth of new technologies in 2017

We’ve described many groundbreaking tech developments in our Insights posts this past year. This post focuses on what seems inevitable in tech for 2017; on likely digital marketing developments coming by 2020-2022.

Keep in mind that many surprising developments come from unexpected sources. We promise to keep you informed about these ‘outlier’ developments in 2017. Another word of caution—pre-launch descriptions of software and digital device releases are frequently different from what we actually get.

Whether you’re a business leader or an investor, expect the following–

  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)—In 2016, AR, (e.g., Pokémon Go) and VR, (e.g., Oculus Rift) captured the imaginations and wallets of many consumers. Since then, thousands of VR apps and games have been introduced to meet the growing demand for AR and VR products. This trend is bound to accelerate in 2017 with the introduction of a number of surprising, ‘outlier’ products.
  • More on-Demand Services—Uber and Airbnb upended the business world with a wildly successful business model that has generated on-demand services for rides, places to stay when on vacation, food delivery, small project support (e.g., TaskRabbit), and much more. Expect more on-demand services via new phone apps in 2017 for more segmented markets.
  • Enhanced Machine Learning—As stated in a previous post, much of what is defined as AI in the media is, in reality, non-autonomous machine learning–as with the continued algorithmic improvements in Google and other search engines. Decision-making apps will increasingly move into our personal lives to operate collectively as one or more integrated digital assistants.
  • Increasing Automation—We’ve been talking about automation since at least the 1950s. What’s new is that automation is now encroaching on white-collar jobs. Writing/journalism is one of those areas affected. …Yikes! –IF researchers overcome current tech barriers to developing completely autonomous AI decision-making, then few, if any, jobs will remain for humans. On the other hand, if advances are limited to non-autonomous machine-based tasks, then entirely new jobs may replace those currently being lost. The most likely outcome is some combination of these two scenarios.
  • More Physical-Digital Integration—We’re already used to purchasing products online for later pickup in brick and mortar stores. We’re also purchasing movie tickets online, selecting our seating ahead of time. There will be a continuing convergence of digital and physical product availability between online marketers like Amazon and stores like Walmart (e.g., interior store maps).
  • Smarter, More Integrated Internet-of-Things (IoT)—Many IoT products have been available for years–ranging from thermostats to automated exterior lighting. But we still don’t have fully automated, connected homes. The obstacle has been a lack of solutions to integrate all these functions together into a seamless user experience. Fortunately, Google, Amazon, and Apple are all working to provide much-needed advancements in this area in 2017.

So how marketers can leverage these tech developments

These advances translate into critical challenges and opportunities for almost all organizations, regardless of industry or economic sector. –In my final segment, I’ll discuss what we can expect in the longer term.

Executives with IT backgrounds are rising to the top of many ‘non-tech organizations,’ spearheading advances not only in targeted marketing but also across organizational silos to develop and empower employees. In this digital age, organizations live or die according to their ability to harness Big Data to innovate products and services. This is giving IT executives a distinct advantage over professionals with other backgrounds.

Be careful to choose a marketing company that stays on top of digital advances–

Consumers quickly adopt new online shopping apps and strategies to find the best deals. Your marketing department or consultants need to stay ahead of these rapidly emerging trends to keep your company competitive. The key challenge in developing apps is to avoid overwhelming your readers with intrusive marketing content.

Rising international stars like Zara

Though the exponential growth of Big Data is surging ahead of current analytic capacity, we have already harnessed new metrics that have upended old business models. Consider something as seemingly low-tech as the clothing industry. Traditional big names like Gap, Primark, and H&M are rapidly falling behind rising international stars like Zara. –Why? Zara quickly integrates detailed feedback from its customers to offer more design variations when demand grows for an item and quickly discontinues an offering when demand falls. Bottom line–they’re making brilliant use of ‘just in time’ analytics to get new products to market within weeks, instead of the standard months-long product design to market cycle still characteristic of most clothiers. Traditional designers like Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger are among those now working to apply Zara’s progressive business model.

In 2017, you can expect to see more of the following–

  • Improved Big Data Analytics– Predictive analytics, based on tracking buyers’ digital footprints generates greatly more precise customer targeting with customized messaging. This, in turn, leads to higher conversion rates. Only the best IT consultants are capable of generating the new algorithms required to harness the still largely untapped potential of Big Data. Expect more qualitative analysis to ‘humanize’ data with a more easily understood visual presentation.
  • More Automated Marketing Content– HootSuite and SproutSocial are among the tools marketers already use to automate messaging across different platforms. Even small companies are using this approach to establish a bigger digital footprint, a necessity for any organization that understands the need to frequently update its marketing messages. Because customers increasingly make purchases on their smartphones and tablets, it’s critical that websites be scaled for all mobile devices.
  • Continued Advances in Video Streaming– We’ll see continued growth in live video streaming. I’ll provide more on developments in this area in a future Insights post.
  • A New Generation of Software for The Internet of Things –-Google, Amazon, and Apple are developing new IoT software to give homeowners much more efficient, unified control of appliances.
  • Rapid Evolution of AI and AR– Expect more Artificial Intelligence-based innovations as well as the introduction of more Augmented Reality games, given the sensational success of Pokémon Go.
  • Increasing Demand for Technology Wearables– The health and fitness industries are fueling growth in digital wearables. As they become more sophisticated, they seem destined to become an integral part of patient care.

Digital Marketing Trends to Watch Heading into the year 2020

As we look at the future of digital marketing make sure your marketing staff/consultants are up to speed on digital advances and related marketing content and venues.

2020 and beyond–What you need to know

  • Information-based products and services will dominate — By 2020, 50% of the largest 2000 global businesses (aka, the ‘G2000’) will be using digital technology to enhance their products, services, and marketing. That percentage is bound to increase substantially in the 2020s because revenue growth for information-based products and services is 200% higher than for non-tech-driven businesses.
  • Mobile websites will beat apps — The introduction of new mobile apps is expected to peak in 2017. Why? Mobile websites are easier to maintain and more cost-effective over time.
  • Investment in 3rd platform technologies will grow to over 75% of IT spending — Third Platform Technologies integrating mobile computing, the cloud, social media, big data analytics, and, by the 2020s, the Internet of Things (IoT) will dominate. This will include substantial growth in Cloud Infrastructure Services (IaaS), i.e., remote hardware; Cloud Platform Services (PaaS), i.e., proprietary apps and other software; and Software as a Service (SaaS), i.e., the third party managed software. –I’ll describe what these related developments mean for your business in a future Insights post.
  • Blockchain-based distributed databases will improve cloud security — Blockchains are distributed computing/database systems characterized by decentralization and public-key cryptography transaction authentication. This breakthrough technology improves security while streamlining global financial systems and reducing provider costs. Resulting profits will drive new, profitable business models and enterprises.
  • Expect exponential growth in augmented reality purchasing– Conversion rates increase when customers have a chance to try on clothing and other personal enhancement products before buying. One expert estimates that by 2020, over 100 million consumers will be using augmented reality software to shop.
  • 30% of web browsing will be screenless by the early 2020s — We’ve already seen the introduction of Apple’s AirPods, Google Home, and Amazon’s Echo with total units projected at 10M units just by 2020. New, improved iterations of these products will grow the market as new voice-driven apps are introduced.
  • Seven current digital giants are expected to thrive in the 2020s — While new mega players will doubtlessly emerge in the 2020s, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent seem destined for continued success. Among their advantages–they are now working to develop the improved ecosystems required for the integrated use of the IoT.
  • IoT is projected to save consumers and businesses over $1 trillion a year in maintenance and services — IoT appliances help consumers save money directly (e.g., as with reduced heating and cooling costs). They also have built-in maintenance monitoring to prevent costly breakdowns while building repair services business revenue.
  • Fitness trackers will be used by a substantial percentage of employees in the 2020s — Businesses will help employees improve their health while saving on corporate health insurance costs with devices that monitor vital signs and physical activity levels. Over 70% of multinational companies already sponsor wearable tracking devices. Similar technology will be used to ‘enhance’ other employee behaviors.