Technology is awesome, right? Instantly connecting with people around the world, shopping without having to get out of bed, even the basics of getting reminders about someone’s birthday—where would we be without technology (except for in a lot of trouble for forgetting about the birthdays)? But where are we going next?
Cross My Palm with Silver
I am not going to try to claim to see the future…technology hasn’t given us that ability yet, but we can all dream. Last November, I presented on the “Future According to Kentico” at the 404 conference in Las Vegas. It was my first time really considering the topic and wondering what might be. And the surprising thing during my research was how ridiculously bad people are at predicting the future of technology. For example, in 1977, Ken Olson, President of Digital Equipment Corporation, claimed: “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” Maybe in 1977 there was no need to have a computer that took a week to turn on, so it was a fair point. But now, 40 years later, the average US household has 13 connected devices. Way off, Ken!
Will the technology industry keep up the frightening pace we see now? Just look at the iPhone— first launched on the US market on June 29, 2007—that’s less than ten years ago. But now, iPhones, and smartphones in general, are synonymous with modern life. Internet of Things (IoT) devices are already making their way into households. Virtual Reality is being utilized to give people a chance to experience products and services before making purchasing decisions. And although Augmented Reality is still very much in its infancy, it has already found fame with the Pokemon Go app, which took 2016 by storm. In ten years’ time, or probably much sooner, these technologies could be at a level we currently experience with smartphones. And let’s not forget that good-old-fashioned computers, laptops, and phones are all continuing to improve too.
Why Should I Care?
Each device should make the users’ lives easier and more convenient. It should enrich people’s lives and hopefully make the world around them better. Or at least, this is why I like technology. If I find that it is annoying me or interfering with my daily routine, then it is not serving a purpose for me. So where else could this be going? What other parts of my life and yours could technology enrich?
Imagine you are walking through a city, dark clouds are building overhead, you are wearing your new suit on the way to an interview. The last thing you want is to turn up in a drenched suit. Enter technology, your awesome phone saves the day by sending you a message to tell you there is a shop two minutes from your location that has a 50% sale on umbrellas. Awesome, right? Well, through a combination of your weather app and location tracking on your phone and some very good and smart marketing by the shop, this is actually already possible.
And event-triggered marketing is not the only awesome opportunity for our newly connected world. I bet when you want to book a holiday but you are torn between two places, you would love to be able to experience it first. Virtual Reality goggles can help. Travel agencies are already experimenting in certain shops with virtual tours of holiday destinations and hotels where customers can see the area, “experience” the location, and make the right decision before handing over their hard-earned cash. And what about seeing valuable information in your own world? What if you are walking through Helsinki searching for a shop that sells trainers but you don’t understand a word of Finnish? (I know, who doesn’t speak Finnish these days?) Introducing Augmented Reality—a view of your real world that is augmented by computer-generated content or elements. With your phone or AR glasses, you can view your environment with real-time translations of the shop names and signs, and even have personalized offers and content sent directly to your device as you walk. I’m starting to love technology even more.
But Mom, Siri Really Does Love Me
She does, it’s true. She knows so much about me already. It’s sometimes scary to consider just how much your phone knows you and can respond to you. But where does it come from? Machine learning: a technical discipline that aims to extract certain knowledge and patterns from a series of observations. With an increasing amount and complexity of data, it will become almost impossible to process it without Machine Learning. It will help drive necessary advances in industries such as transportation, energy, medicine, and manufacturing, as well as social scenarios such as customer relationship management and supply chain optimization.
Don’t worry, Machine Learning is not like the Terminator finally being “back”. But it is a discipline that will take all the complex data currently being created and tracked and turn it into a much more personalized experience for digital users. Siri runs on the premise of Natural Language Question Answering where it can learn the way people speak over time, find results that are useful, and talk back to you in a natural way—all learned over time and improved on daily. Similarly, Natural Language Generation will super-personalize the content users see on websites and applications. Generic content can be written and, depending on a person’s age, ethnicity, location, gender, search history, and much more, the content can be automatically adjusted and displayed to each individual.
What Is This Sorcery?
How awesome would it be to be able to work with all these technologies and ideas? Creating content and experiences for VR and AR, advertising in real-time through applications, using kiosks in shops to greatly enrich the customer experience?
It is not a coincidence that all the scenarios above are influenced by the content and experiences you deliver to users. This is the future of Digital Marketing! We might be able to do a lot of it already, but the future belongs to marketers who can embrace the latest technologies the fastest and deliver the best possible user experiences, no matter the channel or device.
This article was originally published on the Kentico Blog.