Let’s face it, as a society we are addicted to technology. The Internet of Things (IoT) revolution has taken over and there’s no looking back. Considering that 90% of the world’s data was created in the past few years and at a pace of 2.5 quintillion bytes per day according to IBM, we are constantly creating new information. The professional world is of course not immune, technology and marketing are now inseparable from one another. The age old “less is more” has certainly fallen by the wayside. In fact, we are being bombarded with so much information that the only “less” that applies in this case is the attention we’re paying to it.
Technology and marketing are in a constant state of development and we now have virtually unlimited access to that data we create every day. This new era has transformed our everyday lives – both positively and negatively.
Among the most popular, and frankly overused words in today’s business lexicon is “disruptive”. Although this word now has a positive connotation in business, we must not forget that disruptive also carries a negative meaning. The technology revolution is disruptive in every way. It disrupts my day and allows me to disrupt yours. For example, I was in an important business meeting recently when I was suddenly interrupted by a text on my iPhone. My impatient client wanted advice on a project and had my mobile number in her speed dial. On another occasion, I was at my son’s performance when the silence of the auditorium was disrupted by a text notification from AT&T.
The Age of Disruption or Age of Communication?
Today, we are more interconnected than ever, or are we? I would argue that the more “connected” we are, the less linked we have become. Sorry LinkedIn. Why pick up the phone when you can simply send an email? Why go and meet your client in person when you can easily set up a GTM instead? As the world continues to rely more and more on digital communication channels, the practice of making in-person connections is disappearing. Sadly, receiving a phone call is almost an annoyance – why can’t you just email me?
At the same time, our obsession with instant recognition and unfettered access has created the phenomenon of digital anxiety. Alina Tugend of the New York Times touches on this trend in her article, “The anxiety of the unanswered email.” In Tugend’s piece, she interviewed Terri Kurtzberg of Rutgers Business School. Kutzberg stated “[with] face-to-face or phone communications, it’s clear how long silence should last before you need to respond. There’s no norm with digital communication.”
Marketing in the Age of Disruption
A particular problem for sales people and marketers is that the ease of digital communication makes non responsiveness that much easier. In fact, avoiding a response when you’re not interested has become all too socially acceptable. Think about it – simply hitting delete or unsubscribe requires far less effort than typing Thank you, but I’m not interested.
People will still to respond to clients, of course. But they can now almost completely ignore unsolicited sales pitches or other things of less perceived value. If there’s nothing in it for me, it’s not worth my time and effort.
Technology makes communication all over the world much easier. But it has also made lasting connections much more difficult to create and maintain, especially in professional contexts. Marketers who are unable to create a personal connection between their products and their customers will have the same fate.
Apple is a perfect example. Their products are more expensive than the competition and their constant configuration changes are downright annoying. But, people will wait in line for hours, pay close to $2k for a laptop or rush to buy the latest adaptor. Why? The Apple product has become an extension of their lives.
The Age of No Privacy
I also believe that with our interconnectivity, privacy is virtually nonexistent. Hiring managers can now prescreen potential new hires by reviewing their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.
Whereas in the past, the background check revealed the “goods”, a candidate’s personality can now be determined very early on in the hiring process. An inappropriate comment, following the wrong people or simply “liking” the wrong thing can ruin your chances of getting your dream job. As a wise manager once told me, “think carefully before you post something to the Internet as it might just come back to haunt you someday!”
Terri Briseno’s article "10 Futurist Predictions in the World of Technology” reads “even if scientists and marketers can't get access to our brains for neurohacking or neuromarketing, can they get access to our data? With unprecedented amounts of images and data available online, filling clouds and other Web-based storage, media, government regulatory bodies and marketers work around the clock to mine user preferences, habits and even relationships.”
While all of this personal data and information can be incredibly powerful for digital advertisers and global marketers, it’s still important to be conscious of what we put on the Internet. We are constantly being monitored, whether we like it or not.
Technology and Marketing and the Future
Whether you love it or hate it, technology is here to stay. We need to accept that tech will continue to rapidly shape the world we live in. It took 75 years for the telephone to be fully integrated into our daily lives, whereas in the US alone, Pokémon GO amassed 20 million users in under a week. I used to send 500 business solicitation letters per day, now I can email 10,000 people in a matter of minutes.
The question is, are those endless blasts more effective? It is certainly much easier to delete an email that an it is to throw a letter in the trash. Call me old-fashioned, but I still think the old snail-mailed letter has its place. The trick is mixing up your outreach mediums. The simple fact that many old-school outreach methods are dying, makes them, in my opinion, that much more powerful and relevant. Again, as I have mentioned before, I once received a thank you for sending a thank-you note!
The tools of yesterday are going away. Last year Coca-Cola announced they were eliminating employee voicemail for all employees. Sounds crazy, but so did the end of the fax machine. We need to adapt to this new reality and learn how to use it to our advantage, or like the VCR, the world will quickly surpass us.