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Five technologies that will transform content and communications in the next five years

A decade since the launch of the iPhone, it’s easy to take for granted the way in which it transformed communication, marketing and content. But back in 2007, the first-generation device was being marketed as a phone (yes really) and the app store and all that followed were far from becoming reality.

But it was a revolution. I remember seeing my first iPhone in a passport queue in JFK airport in the autumn of that year. Compared with the incremental advances in mobile and early smartphones, this device, with its icon heavy home screen, looked as if it had been beamed in from the future.

Fast-forward 10 years, and the iPhone’s impact on content and marketing is there for all to see. Combined with the cloud, big data, social media, and ever higher quality camera and video, it put a publishing house in your pocket; an immediate connection with however many followers and friends you had on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The hype is well advanced for the next generation iPhone expected in September. But the opportunities for genuinely useful smartphone innovation are rapidly diminishing. Instead, we need to look more widely at a new wave of technologies that are set to transform content and communications. Here are five that every marketer needs to understand.

AR: To be fair, the next generation iPhone has a major role to play in making AR a mass consumer technology. That’s thanks to ARKit, a suite of tools aimed at developers who want to take AR to the next level. Combined with the rumoured 3D sensors on the back of the new iPhone, ARKit opens the door to the next level of consumer experiences. Ikea is said to be a launch partner, offering shoppers the ability to visualize furniture and other products in their own home. That immersive experience could be replicated for pretty much any consumer industry from apparel, to travel – and games of course. Photos and video of your product and experience, will no longer be enough.

AI/machine learning: Beyond the smartphone, artificial intelligence and machine learning are set to turn the content-creation industry upside down. For some time, software has been able to produce short business and sports articles based on structured data. Now Google has provided a grant to the UK Press Association to help it meet demand for local news – by automating the drafting of copy. According to Engadget: “The project will depend on human writers to choose the stories (on topics such as crime, health, and employment) that the AI will then write. The computers will also auto-generate graphics, video, and pictures to match the articles.” I don’t expect it will be much longer until businesses open up the vaults of their digital archive and set the bots running to create and repurpose articles in response to breaking industry news, or simply just to squeeze every last drop of value out of existing content assets.

Blockchain: The distributed ledger technology, with its decentralised and open source core, has been grabbing headlines for a good couple of years, especially in the financial sector. But some experts think that it could have just as an important role in content ownership and rights. According to Forbes: “The objective is put simply in terms of creating a ‘user-friendly content sharing network, which enables an effective and hassle-free way to upload, purchase and share content’.” Again, those businesses with high-value content assets, be it research, white papers or video, will be able to protect distribution, while collecting revenues far more effectively.

Live streaming: Without question, Periscope, Facebook Live and Instagram are giving video a new lease of life. This is especially important at a time where the struggle to stand out, especially on social media, is getting harder and harder. It matters even more where influencer marketing is replacing paid advertising and other traditional channels as the most effective, and authentic way to reach customers. That said, I’m expecting to see a huge leap in the quality of live streaming videos as more and more businesses catch on. The concept of a ‘studio in your pocket’ is going to take on new meaning as organisations recruit employee and influencer talent to get their message across to online markets.

Internet of things: As we move away from the myth of the internet fridge (20 years and still waiting), the opportunities of our connected world are finally beginning to materialize. The technology is maturing fast – witness Alexa and a host of other voice-controlled devices. Now imagine a scenario where something as fundamental as the weather, or the temperature at that very moment, could trigger a special offer sent directly to your device (or announced by your voice assistant). What if the way that I use all the connected devices in my home reflected my state of mind, again triggering an offer – holiday, restaurant discount, the latest streaming comedy. Maybe that feels a bit far-fetched in 2017, but given the journey we’ve been on since 2007, it won’t be surprising if we see something similar in the next decade.

As you can probably tell from some of the anecdotes in this article, I’ve been helping agencies and in-house teams to harness new technology to content and content-marketing for the past 10 years and more. If your business is looking to become more creative, but also more efficient in the use of content to drive brand visibility, customer engagement and sales conversions, get in touch and let me know how I can help.


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