At 45, email is as old as the Internet (as we know it). Facebook is 12. Even Snapchat has been around for 5 years, and many of the things we dreamed about watching The Jetsons (which initially aired in 1962!) are a reality.
Digital is not the new frontier, but business as usual, but that doesn’t mean that there are no frontiers left to discover.
Our brand promises that we are tomorrow. So I asked some of our team exactly what they thought tomorrow (well, 2017 at least) would bring.
Smart homes will take over
Brendon O’Sullivan, CEO & Digital Business Analyst
The communication between our devices is becoming more sophisticated, and our demand of devices that work this way (through to everyday household appliances) is increasing. The next year will see a rise in tailored home design, and expertise amongst the trades, to build or renovate fully functioning smart homes for all home owners.
Simple products like Google Home and Amazon Echo are becoming more and more accessible to the general population (those with a postal address in the U.S. at least), and have huge business applications as well. They can provide more personalised, improved customer service, such as in the case of the Wynn Las Vegas, pledging to place an Amazon Echo in each of their hotel rooms in 2017, giving visitors more control and personalisation of their space. Applications for improvements to the quality of life for groups including older people or those living with disability or chronic illness are even more amazing to consider.
What won’t change
Businesses will continue to increase their focus on understanding and interrogating their data. Measurement remains central to management, and business success, and the trend toward more data-driven business decision making, marketing and the like will continue.
You can read Brendon's description of Business Intelligence and it's importance to business in 'What is Business Intelligence'.
More digital bravery, less digital flippancy
Leanne O’Sullivan, Founder of our training and education sister company, The Summit School
Over the next year we will see people investing more time and money into their digital marketing, rather than taking a light approach. But it's not only financial bravery that is on the rise. Our digital marketing efforts will not succeed unless we insert ourselves in the story. The use of live video and live streaming for brands will increase as ways for smart business owners and marketers to achieve this.
I see a lot of people copying what they see as best practice across social media - sending similar stock photos with similar messaging to their audiences. No personality. Their marketing efforts will stagnate unless without an injection of their own unique point of view. Outside of this, next year will be a sink or swim year for Twitter. Will it die, or will it be resurrected by Google. Watch this space.
What won’t change
True engagement, over constantly pushing information, will continue to provide the best returns for effort. This is especially true for Instagram, which will continue to grow and absorb the best (and leave the mediocre) of other platforms. The introduction of shopping and bookmarking your favourite posts will take the best of Pinterest, and will be a massive game-changer for the world of online shopping.
Big Data will drive the customer journey more than ever
Paul Ridoutt, Digital Director
Our constant connectivity means that mountains of data about our preferences, movements and habits are being collected at any time. If you follow the money trail, you can see early investors throwing money into financing Artifical Intelligence that takes advantage of this data. Unlike Brendon, I'm not seeking it's application in robotocised household appliances and lawn mowers. I do, however, think we will see a rise in real-world application of AI to the average consumer.
We're starting to see the use of chat-bots in customer support. Applications like this, providing more personalised and efficient customer service, will grow over the next 12 months. All businesses need to continually look to how they can better collect, manage and leverage their data now, to stay on top of their game.
What won’t change
Despite constant catastrophising about the growth in mobile, social, disappearing media - you name it - email marketing continues to hold it's position. Don't be fooled by the naysayers. More data means better automation, more personalisation and relevancy and an even better email experience.
Content distribution will be easier and more centralised
Jason Rankmore, Solutions Architect
We will see a rise in the uptake of distributed content delivery, that is, being able to share centrally stored content across a number of platforms in a more seamless way. Kentico Cloud is a real game-changer in this space. It will be exciting to see how this model for drafting, structuring and collaborating on content, that then gets pushed out to different platforms via sophisticated integrations, changes the time 'content upload' line item in most website projects. This content first approach won't just enable more efficient website creation and updates, but means big things for content marketers, who will be able to spend more time creating and less time sharing.
What won’t change
Mobile first is still the way to design and develop excellent online experiences. In reality, it's approaching design in a platform agnostic way - it should just work everywhere.
Slower products, faster service
Ceridwyn Usback, Senior Client Solutions Manager
In 2017 the common denominator between successful brands will be their balance between slow and fast. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? It's important to know where you need to speed up and where you need to slow down.
We'll see businesses take a slower approach to their products, through greater emphasis on sustainability, quality and value-for-money for customers. With a faster approach and focus on business efficiency across the board, how will you stand out?
Choosing to be 'slow' in terms of the fundamentals of service - taking real time to WOW customers again, selling the right product, putting the finishing touches to a physical store or to packaging for example - will be a point of difference for successful businesses. But where do you speed up? Choose to be 'fast' in terms of technology to enable a range of efficiencies in your business and see where this speed can flow onto clients - looking at Big Data can drive speed in personalisation, while the fusion of virtual with brick-and-mortar will have a huge impact on delivery, but balance is key.
What won’t change
Change is constant, so the ability to be agile and adaptable continues to be a pillar of business success. But don't be put off by change. Trends in business, just like fashion, are cyclical. Make time to revisit old approaches, books and articles, improving all the time based on past experience.
2017: the year of the storyteller
Sarah Stanford, Marketing Strategist
What is your brand story? Your culture, your why and mission? We'll see less and less emphasis placed on where you're sharing your message, and more focus on how every piece of content you share tells your story. The rapid growth of Medium is a great example of how this is already happening: strong writing and personal stories shine.
The businesses that succeed will be those that recognise it's all about the human stories behind the product or service. Although it's important to note that this 'behind-the-scenes' approach does not mean content should lose it's polish. As a member of the cult of CrossFit, I have watched their marketing approach change over the last few years. Their focus now, more than a few years ago, is on true storytelling: creating everything from highly polished short videos to full-length documentaries, sharing personal stories of achievement from their whole community, not just the top athletes. Storytelling mattered long before digital marketing, and it will matter for years to come.
What won’t change
In the year B.N. (Before Netflix) I spent a year writing a thesis on how television, thanks to it's ability to bring communities together over shared events, won't 'die'. Scheduled events still matter. Whether that's the release of four new Gilmore Girls episodes, a live musical (and the accompanying behind-the-scenes livestream like Hairspray Live) or a planned live Q&A on Facebook, these events build community and we, as marketers, need to understand how we can build or leverage these communities or people.
What does tomorrow look like for your business?
We confidently say that 'we are tomorrow'.
To us, tomorrow is a place where your business enjoys,
What does tomorrow look like to you? Let us know in the comments.