Sunday, January 28, 2007

Digital Divining...... The Next BIG Things!

Now that the sunscreen has been put away and the clogged roads back to the city have been endured, it is time to devote some attention to things Digital for 2007 – so here are my predictions of the next big things in the digital services space....

  • Saturation Reached - The latest ABS survey shows that Internet Usage has risen STEEPLY. Now > 50% of all internet users use broadband. In higher income households, access to the internet is over 80% (and at 90% for >$120K p.a. households).

    This is significant - more homes than not (and the most of the wealthiest homes) have high speed internet access. This firmly establishes the internet as a viable, permanent and essential channel– an essential part of the overall mix.

    A digital strategy is no longer optional and an under-funded digital strategy is a disaster waiting to happen.

  • Boom Go the Strong Brands - Smart companies have clung onto control of their brand in the online space.

    It is increasingly important to be clear about your brand, what you offer, who you want to reach, your values, etc. Confused brands will suffer in digital channels - consumers can click away faster than you can explain.

    Brands which have compromised their position through quickly inked deals based around shared branding, being one of many players in a portal or, shock-horror, who have been sold short-sighted media plans from agencies (adding some banner ads to a traditional media buy is not a digital strategy), will see the strong, clear brands stride past them in building strong, commercial value-adding customer relationships.

  • The Start of The Invisible Internet - with the arrival mass-market of high-speed wireless internet (3G data) we will see new “always connected” devices. Special purpose entertainment devices, smart-billboards, connected POS devices and more.

    Consumers will no longer have to consciously connect to consume digital services, advertising and content…. And the internet will start to become “invisible.”

  • The rise and rise of digital services - 2007 is the year of digital services (commercially connecting advertising, marketing and technology).

    Digital channels allow you to make an offer to a customer, with a built in ability to "act" on that offer - which means customers providing information, transactions and customer self service. This is REAL business with REAL money changing hands and the numbers are getting big. Corporations want experienced specialists who can connect the creative, the content and the commerce in a robust and secure way - and that is the domain of the Digital Services specialists.

  • Internationalisation at break-neck speedInternet usage in Asia is growing at twice the rate of North America and internet users in Asia, Europe and Latin America outnumber the North Americans by 3 to 1. Investment in commercial solutions in these markets is on the increase, so expect new competition in international markets - and expect these international players to reach further into yours.

    Digital channels are truly international - learn to reach, support and service customers in their local markets and learn to use their local language.

  • YOU will reign SUPREME - it isn't insignificant that Time Magazine named YOU as the Person of the Year, acknowledging that 2006 was the year in which user-generated content went mainstream and the power of the connected consumer bubbled to new levels.

    This trend of the collective power of informed (and uninformed) connected consumers will accelerate. Brands could be built and broken in days and weeks as the harshest judges of all - the customers - build on their new-found power to no longer be the silent majority.

    Be careful what you say, be careful what you do - because I (and many, many, many more "I's") am watching you!!
I could continue with some more of the traditional "wallpaper predictions" ..... Internet Advertising Will Continue to Rise (no kidding!) .... eCommerce will continue to grow (of course it will!) ..... More customers will serve themselves via digital channels (why wouldn't they?) ..... and convergence will continue (what's going to stop it?), but these things are now stating the bleeding obvious.*

The next big things of 2007 and beyond are those deep, cultural, structural things that will redefine the marketplaces in which we work.

It is an exciting time - the momentum is building and there is growing evidence that we are, in fact, changing the world!

*(Albeit that they weren't so obvious when I was saying them in years past - mind you, I am the guy who, in 1995, was kicked out of the boardroom of one major bank in this country because "customers will never want to access their bank accounts over this 'internet thing' you talk of….").

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