Technologies brands can use to reach their consumers in the digital age

By Dawn Rowlands  ‎

Upskilling in the art of the 4 th Industrial Revolution – Previous industrial revolutions have driven development by introducing new forms of power generation, mass production and information processing, the 4 th Industrial Revolution is categorised by the integration of technology, internet, global mobile connectivity, data analysis, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, all altering and disrupting manufacturing and service industries in speed, scale and power.

As previous industrial revolutions introduced noteworthy economic, political and social changes, the 4 th Industrial Revolution also brings major impacts on governments, businesses, the economy and media. A key example is represented by new digital platforms, which are disrupting traditional ways of retrieving services by bringing together demand and supply within the new shared economy. It also brings about new types of services and pushes companies to rethink the way they run their business. With the above being said, below are a few disrupters within the industry, it is important for you to keep your business abreast of these changes which are set to revolutionise the way we do things in our organisation.

Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous

Today’s business environment can be described as Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA). This has placed immense pressure on every business to continue to re-invent itself and constantly diversify its services. With this said, 50% of today’s Top 100 businesses, will not exist in their current form within the next 5 years. This uncertainty stems from what businesses should be focusing on. Which leads us to the question, what exactly should they be placing their emphasis on?

Dynamic, Exciting, Limitless and Instant

Focus should be driven around a world that is Dynamic, Exciting, Limitless and Instant (DELI). If one starts to view your business through the lens of a start-up, what would change? What level of innovation would you deliver? What would you focus on fiercely? What would you do with the fastest momentum? Businesses should view the world not as a VUCA world, but rather as a DELI environment.

Global Media Partners Driving Culture

We have observed the rapid adoption of social media, both the size and scale of the “media populations” that have been created. As audiences converge on these platforms they will also be able to be segmented into a segment of one. This will require agile segmentation, as well as insights and tools. As brands, you will be expected to get your message 100% correct for the consumer. The segment of one; consumers will become unforgiving of a brand’s inability to recognize their needs across a global platform. It is therefore vital to get this right, to avoid an instant global disaster.

From Campaign to Innovation

Brands have started to shift from campaigns to product innovation. The key areas of focus going forward will be product design and innovation. Campaigns will just become words in the wind, but useful products and services, will drive consumer adoption in the future.

Whilst we are trying to guess what the future looks like, we forget that we are in the business of creating that future for brands and shareholders. However, we can already see some innovations that will drive change in the short term.

The game changers in innovation are; Machine and Deep Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain Technology, Sensor Technologies, Internet of Everything, Robotics, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

Let’s touch on a few of these innovations:

1. Machine and Deep Learning

Many companies are already using this to drive solutions for customers and sales. Amazon and Google are already doing this. Google is however combining a few pieces of technology already, which makes what they offer to consumers seamless and compelling.

Amazon’s Recommendation Engine for example, uses math & statistics to generate a model of how a system works based on a defined feature or outcome. Google Driverless Cars to Google Urban Planning, is another great example. It creates relationships between disparate models, understands their relationships and creates  improvements to themselves based on this understanding.

2. Blockchain technology

Another innovation is the combination of blockchain with a GM fleet of self-driving cars. Venture Capitalists have invested roughly $1 billion into 120 blockchain related start-ups, 50% of that investment was made in 2015.

3. Internet of Everything

The Internet of everything brings people, processes, data and things together. When devices are connected to the internet they can order supplies, inform decisions and help make our lives more efficient. This will make cities for efficient and urbanization faster.

4. Robotics – Forecast to be a US $80 billion industry by 2020

Dentsu and SoftBank Robotics created the world’s first robot that has its own emotions. The goal with Pepper is to see how talking, human-like robots might help people in a society where more and more people, including the elderly, live alone. This is especially relevant in Japan where more than 22 per cent of the population is already over the age of 65 and fertility rates are declining.

5. Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality glasses made a HUGE leap in quality this past year. They're still not ready for consumers, but it is time to start using these in your business. Virtual Reality is here and is not going away. If you're in the media business, it is time to put big money into building content. There are a ton of new 360-degree cameras to enable just that.

IoT and Bluetooth connectivity keeps spreading to everything, which enables not just new products but new business models as well.

(Dawn Rowlands  is the ‎CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network, Sub Saharan Africa).

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