I had the privilege to moderate a panel discussion on disruptive technologies and innovation at the recent iMedia Agency Summit in Brighton and it struck me – not only from the panel discussion, but also from the other excellent speakers and from my own preparation – that we are currently stuck in a channel approach. The emergence of social media and mobile has cemented it even more.
This channel approach works on two planes: the first one being the divide offline versus online and virtual world versus real world; the second one being the divide between marketing channels: TV, print, search, online display, plus the new additions mobile and social media. Interestingly enough, you won’t find this division in the minds of individual citizens. This division was created and is being reinforced by media owners, technology providers, agencies and suppliers of all sorts. This division creates the same disconnection as the one in the recruitment industry: recruitment agencies define themselves by industry sectors whilst the majority of individuals use this – if at all – as a secondary criterion when choosing a job.
In my world, the divide doesn’t exist and as practitioners in this field I urge everyone to overcome it soon. It’ll give us all a richer experience and a brighter, more connected and wholesome future.
Let me first talk about the divide of marketing (or communication or recruiting) channels. It is true, mobile will be at the heart of it all, purely and simply as it is utilised by the individual wherever he/she is and whenever he/she is mobile. It’s always with us. That doesn’t, however, make it the most powerful or important device, it’s as important as every other device in this ecosphere.
For me, mobile is a facilitating device. It facilitates the transfer of data between worlds and devices and therefore facilitates the creation of a richer experience of reality. Already now, mobile facilitates an increased use of social media. Already now, mobile has changed the landscapes of gaming (interesting, isn’t it, that we hardly ever use the word “computer games” anymore). Already now, mobile facilitates a heightened experience of events by increasing the use of social media but also just by connecting to others in the traditional ways of SMS and voice calls.
Subsequently, mobile needs to be at the heart of all communication strategies. Consequently, anybody selling only mobile apps or pure mobile communication solutions/media buying/media planning needs to widen their sphere quickly and decisively and everybody within the communication industry needs to understand the position of mobile. And we haven’t even touched on IPTV yet and it’s interaction with the mobile and the engagement of the user via using all these connected devices.
The core thought for me, however is, it’s not about mobile, it’s not about apps, it’s not about social media, but it’s about the individual and the facilitation of change in the behaviour of individuals. It’s all about people.
Which brings me to my next point: offline versus online and real versus virtual. As an individual – be it as consumer or citizen – my world is whole and connected, so the divide doesn’t exist. Just look at Foursquare, Gowalla or Flook as an example, real world and virtual world enriching each other and existing within one reality. Perfect. Now add to this the event – Man City and Foursquare, Gowalla and NJ Nets – and this combination becomes even more fluid and even more personalised (as in; the individual creates their own personalised experience). This fluidity will increase when project natal will hit the market at Christmas – total inclusion into the game and total information exchange between real and virtual world.
So the future will be agnostic. Instead of obsessing about devices and dividing by delivery or production method, we will be talking about services and experiences that are channel agnostic and delivery agnostic. That will require from us a deeper understanding of the individual and more respect of the individual as well as increased flexibility and fluidity in our thinking and our execution. Welcome to a much simpler world.
Have a look at this video – it’s not a glimpse of the future, but reality here and now: