It's not the what, it's the how and the why.
I had a really interesting conversation the other day about technology and how it's applied as a tool. Not just in advertising, but in general operations and processes too. The interesting thing was that we both agreed that the issue we have isn't coming up with new technology to improve a process or make life easier, but rather coming up with the way of showing people why it can improve things in their business.
One of the accusations levelled at those of us who work in advertising is that we're far too keen to use the newest technology without really thinking things through to the end user. I blogged last year that I firmly believed that VR will be a big deal, but not for a good while. However there are still many campaigns out there utilising VR. In some cases that works, but in a lot of cases it really doesn't and the reason is simple. Nobody has a VR viewer.
In fact sales of VR headsets in 2016 was shy of 100m units. The total number of smartphones shipped was 1.4 billion. So penetration is still very low. And even if someone does have one, are they using it for watching your ads?
To understand things a bit better we can use the Gartner Hype cycle, which is below, (thanks Michael) which shows the expectations timeline of emerging technology. When you look at it, it very clearly demonstrates that there is an obvious cycle to these things.
New technology gets announced, expectations grow, as things don't happen we get disillusioned with the tech and then someone finds a proper use for it and then we get reasonable expectations.
The problem I think is that a lot of us who work with tech, especially in marketing/advertising, don't recognise that we seem to be stuck in a permanent state of inflated expectations. The word innovation gets thrown around frequently in briefs though, so perhaps that's where some of this single mindedness comes from? So brands and their marketing teams need to be part of this review of how we behave with tech.
IOT is the big thing we're all talking about right now. Our connected devices making life increasingly easier but that doesn't mean it's making business life better.
We have all these solutions out there, but the problem is connecting the dots for businesses so that they can understand how this technology can improve their business. It's all well and good being able to do the work and bring all the data together to help create a strategic response to a business problem, but if you can't explain how your technology works and what that data means, who is going to buy the solution?
And that doesn't even scrape the surface when it comes to the problems consumers face. A great example of that would be QR codes. Derided and laughed at, but actually if they were used properly they can be very helpful. Just ask Snapchat. The problem is though, no one ever really took the time to explain to consumers what they did or how they worked.
It's clear that connected devices and systems for integrations exist, but if we spend too much time doing and not enough time explaining why, then you get a situation where business owners and staff won't buy into the improvements. Because they don't understand them. New processes will be discarded because they appear to be time consuming or getting in the way of doing their job and that leads to a bad customer experience.
The issue is that we're looking inward at the great advancements in tech and how that can make doing things easier, but we're not doing the outward looking enough. We're not looking at how these advancements can click for a brand or a sector and telling people where the benefits will be for them. We're looking at how to get the kudos for using the most innovative technology and not looking at the kudos for creating something that is in actual fact, making life or business better or easier.
That means that those of us who are coming up with the processes by which technology can help improve a situation need to take some time to think about the how and the why of things from a users point of view. What we say might be true. Implementing a process change by way of a new piece of technology or crafting a new campaign that utilises the newest advancement in social integrations is great, but we have to be able to stand up and explain what we're doing, why we're doing it, how it works and what the benefits will be. If you can't do that, then you're starting from a bad place.
There's a reason why TV shows like Tommorow's World were so popular. People like to know these things. So maybe if we lifted our heads a little, we could address that ridiculous hockey stick on the Hype Curve!
At least that's my 2 cents. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.