Ya’ know those movies that make you think? I’m talking about the ones that, after the popcorn and soda settles, have you pondering, ‘Could that really happen?’
I distinctly remember, after watching Minority Report in 2002, wondering if that was really what the future would be like. Not Tom Cruise’s drama, but the tech.
Steven Spielberg was showing us his version of the world 50+ years in the future (set in 2054). And I believe that just 12 years after the film’s release we’re already there in many ways. And what’s not here is coming soon.
Spielberg’s future includes touch-screens where we can scan across images on a multi-screen master, enlarge one of those images with a sweep of a hand and touch 3-D imagery. It’s a world where advertisements in malls change to target the person viewing them based on an eye-scan.
Today’s tech features glasses that allow you to view live data from anywhere in the world as well as watches that can make phone calls for you. There’s also more intuitive tech in the works today that, for example, will prompt you to upgrade your seat at a show. When you take your seat at the stadium you get a message on your phone saying, “We see you’ve arrived at your seat. Would you like to upgrade your ticket to this better available view?” (accompanied by photo). 1
This is tech that’s less mobile-focused and based more on your personal experience at the moment: where you are and what you’re doing. And this is the arena that social media marketing is preparing to battle in.
Mike Walsh is a self-described digital futurist and he’s the CEO of Tomorrow (how’s that for a title?), a global consultancy on designing business for the 21st century. He spoke at the World Conference of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) which I recently attended in Toronto, and gave his view of the future of tech.
He sees today’s endless oscillation of mobile phones (big or small, thin or thick) as a bit of a red herring, in his words. What we should be looking at, Walsh says, “is the idea of the mobile (phone) fragmenting, breaking up and disappearing into our clothing, our eyewear and into our everyday lives.”
“This is about a total integration of the digital world and our real world. And that’s going to change everything from our behaviour as consumers to the way that we shop, the way we learn, the way we communicate,” Walsh says.
The tech is one half of the equation. The resulting relationship between us and our favourite brands is the other half. Brands will likely adapt to this technology by, get this, becoming more human. Walsh sees, and I agree, that brands will need to rely less on platforms like Facebook and Twitter and more on using this technology to maintain their communities by serving us where we are at the time and involving what we’re doing.
In Walsh’s words, “Authenticity will be one of the most important qualities of the 21st century. True authenticity is about a passion for doing things that no amount of media or spin can ever change.” It’s about providing the very best you can in very personalized service for your customers at every touch point.
What would be more authentically ‘Scott’ than if I were walking down Saint Catherine Street, home of some of the best shopping downtown, to see ads in store windows change to raincoats in one store and ear buds in another (from my search history); for the sign on the pub switching to promote its Pale Ale (my fav); or getting a transit alert as I walk into the train station saying, “Welcome Scott, you’re next train home leaves Gate 13 in 10 minutes. Better hurry!”
Sound creepy? Is it terribly different from those same ads popping up as I cruised through Facebook this morning?
Sounds like something out of a Spielberg movie to me.
1 Walsh, Mike (2014) Pre-session interview with IABC/CW magazine. Press Release: http://wc.iabc.com/press-release-futurist-mike-walsh-to-open-the-2014-iabc-world-conference-in-toronto/
Litak, Andrew (2012) Minority Report really did predict the future. io9. Retrieved from http://io9.com/5920302/minority-report-really-did-predict-the-future