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Tech and digital marketing trends in 2017 and beyond, part I

Rapid growth of new technologies in 2017

We’ve described many groundbreaking tech developments in our Insights posts this past year. Part I in this series focuses on what seems inevitable in 2017; Part II 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.

In Part II of this article, I’ll provide a quick overview of how marketers can leverage with these tech developments to expand their customer base.

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