Here’s a typical day for many people: You wake up to a customised alarm ringtone, then immediately grab your smartphone to check email from bed. You receive a notification about an upcoming bill via text, and pay it via your online bill pay app. You check Facebook and see that one of your favourite cereal brands is offering a 50% coupon to anyone who tags a pic of themselves using the product, so you grab your box of cereal and take a selfie. After work, when you check your mailbox, you find a birthday check from your grandmother. You quickly snap a picture of the check to deposit it via your bank’s smartphone app, then check in with Instagram to see what your friends have been up to all day. The last thing you do before bed? Check your email, of course. That cereal coupon is already in your inbox.
It should be pretty clear, from the above example, that technology is changing rapidly. Every year dozens of new technologies emerge and quickly become part of day-to-day life. These emerging technologies include:
You probably use a lot of these emerging technologies in your day-to-day life. Some of them, like Amazon’s anticipatory shipping program, you use without realising it. The real question is how integrated your company is with these emerging technologies. Is your brand using — or hiding from — these new technologies?
Once Amazon figured out anticipatory shipping, the company patented the idea. Likewise, the first companies to fund new products by crowdsourcing purchases on Kickstarter became headline names — think of the success of the Pebble watch. Every time a technology emerges, a few companies figure out how to leverage the technology to achieve success, a few others jump on as copycats, and still others get left behind.
That means you need to use emerging technologies to stay ahead of your competitors, if nothing else.
If you’re confused about how to use emerging technologies, ask the question “how can I use this to increase my audience base?” Then see if the technology lets you:
Think seriously about every new emerging technology as it comes. Remember: if you can’t figure out how to use the technology to increase your audience base, some other company will.
Every new emerging technology offers you the opportunity to engage with a new target audience. Groupon, for example, made coupons popular among young people. Paypal made it possible for thousands of people to start their own micro-businesses or second income streams.
Every time you interact with a new emerging technology, from online micropayment systems to 3D printing, think about how you can use that technology to engage with a new target audience. Sometimes, you can build significant brand loyalty simply by connecting a new technology to a new group of people. Emerging technologies let you:
Take a look at the technologies around you and see if any of them will let you access a new target audience. Then, get to work and see what happens.
Technology is changing rapidly, and emerging technologies will only become more numerous. Just this week, for example, Facebook announced its acquisition of the virtual reality company Oculus Rift, and we will no doubt see the integration of VR and social media within a year or two. When that happens, will your company find a way to work social VR into its marketing plan? Or will you let your competitors take the lead?
Technology will never stop emerging. It’s your job to use these new technologies to your advantage or risk being left behind.