The present and Future of Digital

By Vivek Bhargava, CEO, DAN Performance Group

Shaping the digital landscape

The digital landscape is rapidly evolving – what was typically seen as just another medium of advertising and marketing, has today become the age we live in. Digital is playing the role of a catalyst and multiplier across every facet of an organization. Digi­tal combined with innovative technologies will be a game changer, a single digital tech­nology like artificial intelligence may dis­rupt almost every single industry we know of today. The biggest differentiator between legacy technologies and digital is the nature of exponential growth it enjoys, coupled with the connections between all the cur­rent exponential technologies.

There is also a drastic change in the way digital is looked at today by the C-Suite. Approximately two years ago, a typ­ical meeting with the promoter of a firm to discuss their digital strategy would be directed towards the CEO, who, in turn, would pass on the buck to the CMO as he was perhaps too mired in ‘mainstream’ strategy. Today, one spends hours with pro­moters who are interested in sitting down one-on-one and understanding the best way forward for their respective companies, a path that could make the most of digital media.

In effect, digital today is the sole me­dium ensuring that a brand connects with its target audience. No other medium offers such customized slice and dice of demo­graphics, psychographics, geographical and location based data along with detailed be­havioral analysis of the consumer, enabling the facilitation of the right communication reaching the customer.

Breaking it down with an example, con­sidering television as a medium, one has to plan for frequency – the frequency may or may not take place. In digital, however, one can setup a certain frequency wherein the consumer has to watch a particular ad­vertisement five times. If it is skipped, the advertiser does not have to pay for it. Alter­nately, in television, the advertiser ends up paying for the advertisement irrespective of whether it was watched or the channel was switched. Several brand marketers are still wary of readily making the shift from television to digital – but once they do, there is no look­ing back.

The challenges that lie ahead

The top most challenge brands face today owing to evolv­ing consumer behavior is communication in the digital economy. Firstly, we live in the times of an ‘instant’ generation – buy something today and it’s delivered to your doorstep tomorrow – they never have had to wait for anything in their lives. The generation of millenni­als demands everything instantly without any interrup­tions. Thus, communicating to this sector is going to be an immense challenge though advertising till now has predominantly been interruption led.

Secondly, today a brand is perceived as a totality of experiences of the product or service. Previously, brands stood for one specific quality e.g. Volvo for safety, Ferra­ri for speed. However, today there are million consumers who each have a different image of the brand they buy. While one may associate a particular car for its resale value, another may view it as a portrayal of their status symbol. How does one run with a single communication message when your brand means different things for each consumer? This one-on-one communication where one can’t say a single thing about the brand is a chal­lenge. Vendors will soon come up with new innovative solutions based on this customer evolution in the future.

Mapping out the future trends

The future belongs to exponential technologies – great digital transformation will take place on this front. Technologies will eventually intertwine to make a single virtual ecosystem. Robots, drones, 3D printing, nano-technology, block chain are a few amongst others.

Artificial intelligence software solutions are likely to be the top disruptor in technology in the coming dec­ade. Cloud computing and machine-learning algorithms have fueled the jump in artificial-intelligence solutions. It is interesting to note that no two machines make the same mistake. However, machines can only replace the functions human beings do, not human beings them­selves.

Additionally, virtual reality provides an immersive experience. There may be the possibility of virtual real­ity utilized as an advertising format, since that pretty much increases the screen size to infinity and can make quite the impact.

Furthermore, in the last two years alone, five billion GB of data was generated which accounts for 90 percent of the world’s data created till date. Making sense of this data, creating actionable insights through this data and its applications will prove to be a game changer and en­able wealth creation.

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