The role of technology in the annals of communications is neither new nor emergent. In fact, for decades if not centuries, technology has been utilised in its various forms to orchestrate the reach and impact of communication. Technology in its various forms has become a vessel to amplify the power of communication.
Technology has created new mediums that have garnered the opportunity to communicate with high frequency and volume, thereby augmenting the touchpoints and their impact. The emergence of smartphones, mobile OS and the universe of apps has made communication universal and omnipresent. This lasting impact cannot be more evident than in the functions of marketing and advertising. Both the practitioners and the industry have been empowered and disrupted in equal measures. Consumers display an insatiable appetite for content in a variety of forms across varied form factors. With an equal degree of innovation in speed, miniaturisation and affordability of the communication surface; the industry is navigating from one FOMO event to another.
The incumbents, be it on the marketing or advertising side have a front-row seat to witness the massive and rapid change sweeping across the industry. The dividing lines between technology and marketing are becoming blurry to say the least; rapidly. If the past decade is to be analysed through the lens of a financial analyst; the trend is quite evident that technology would be the biggest asset in this race of attention and relevance. Not only does it provide a definitive MOAT in the short term but creates future streams of value.
In 2006, Clive Humby famously quipped 'data is the new oil'. If that is true we need to leverage the value stream and then find ways to dig and dredge it. And if one has to take a leaf from the hydrocarbon industry is the fact that constant exploration and discovery is what creates sustainable value. In the coming decade, the communication agencies would have to evolve into 'technology and data companies in the communication business'.
This would require all of us to take a contrarian look at how we allocate resources, invest in talent and what we consider differentiators. The peril of the technology phenomena that the current generation is experiencing; is shrinking attention span, multi-screen environment and multi-sensory interaction.
It would be in our best interest to find ways to not just decipher platforms and their tools but move towards creating captive technology capabilities that can be stitched into the fabric of communication. The recent changes in Apple Inc’s policy only show that not even the biggest platforms are not insulated from the shifting realities of privacy and personalisation. It would be myopic to underestimate the capability of technology to disrupt our industry and practice.
The treasure troves of data, apps, interfaces, and technology give us the ability to orchestrate communication, one that is not just relevant but one that creates intrinsic value for all actors of the value chain. It would not be sufficient in the next decade for the communication practitioners to only understand platforms but the inherent capability to build, scale and monetise such captive platforms. This would need to absorb technology and its practitioners into the fold. Creative forces would be left ineffective in the absence of technology and data.
It is no coincidence that Accenture Interactive stands today as the largest digital agency network. In just over a decade Accenture Interactive has reached over $10 billion in annual revenues through a series (30) of M&A and developing captive technologies. It's either poetic justice or culmination of destined events that David Droga is at the help of Accenture Interactive. The fact they have managed to grow 20% y-o-y in the past decade in light of paradigm shifts and increasing digital budgets only reflects what is to come in the next decade.
If we were to retrospect the recent times and events; it is overwhelmingly clear that we as marketing professionals stand at a point where we would need to heed the calling of evolution. To do so we need to embrace it in our strides to adopt new ways to look at the consumer realities and the marketing landscape itself.
(The author is CEO, GripDigi.)