What We Are Reading: March Edition
This month I focus on new concepts affecting and affected by technology. I’ve rounded up a list of blog posts and articles making waves among the most credible circuits including Harvard Business Review, the New York Times and top market analysts.
Content was crowned king a while ago, but now with content intelligence we may have a chance at an algorithmic understanding of our messages as well. So far, content has been judged solely by indirect indicators of quality ― time on page, bounce rate, engagement ― but with content intelligence, we’ll have an entirely new and improved way of evaluating content. Forrester analyst, Ryan Skinner, explains that “It is technology that helps content understand itself – what it’s about, how it speaks, how effective it is at accomplishing certain goals, what emotions it calls to mind, etc.”
Tech giants like Facebook employee technology to identify elements within pictures and videos, but so far this technology has been out of reach for most other companies. Now, tech startup, Matroid, is approaching visual recognition in a new way that allows users to choose elements of a picture and then search via algorithm to identify those elements in other pictures.
The Mobile World Congress consisted of many panel discussions and breakout technologies which highlighted the potential good as well as the potential bad in advancing intelligence in our smartphones. Forrester’s Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D. shares her take on the conference, including a panel I would have loved to attend called “Making Your Mobile Communications 100% Secure And NSA Proof.” So how can you ensure that the only person listening to your call is the person you called?
Anjali Lai, an analyst on Forrester’s Data Insights team, talks about how brands today are constantly participating in public discourse through their many public and social channels. While this is an easy way to expand reach, it also opens the potential to be judged for deeper levels and be held accountable to a higher degree. Consumers not only buy a product, they identify with it and the values of the company that provides it. This makes being on the wrong side of an issue a financial liability. However, as Lai points out, in today’s particularly polarized environment, “appealing to consumers’ ethics and beliefs can be a minefield.”
Amazon has influenced and dominated the online shopping market with automation and artificial intelligence. Now, using technology they call “Walk-Out Technology” they are again showing the world that retail, this time in physical stores, can be reinvented. Amazon’s increasing number of brick and mortar stores are becoming a playground for experimentation. Nick Wingfield discusses this process and writes that “over time, they could also introduce new forms of automation, putting traditional retail jobs in jeopardy.”
Forrester looked at 60 corporate websites across 12 different industries and found most fail to deliver engaging, customer-focused content. Also, not much has improved since 2014. According to Laura Ramos’, Forrester Analyst, it’s more likely that a customer will engage with content focused on thought-leadership or discussing industry issues than content that goes on and on about product features.
After comparing competing companies that survived and faltered through technological disruption, Gartner’s Augie Ray predicts that “the successful brands of tomorrow won’t have the best ads or content; they will be the ones that create customer experiences that deliver satisfied customers who are brand loyal and tell others.”
According to Harvard Business Review, the challenge for business leaders facing a new age of automation is not try to simply to cut costs, but to identify how we can use technology to extend the skills of humans in ways that aren’t immediately clear, but will seem obvious a decade from now. As Apple has shown with its highly successful retail operation, there’s a big advantage to having stores staffed with well-trained people. They can answer questions, give advice, and interact with customers in ways that a machine doesn’t.
Why is Wall Street suddenly enamored with enterprise tech companies? In this article, Alex Wilhelm and Ron Miller discuss how these companies sell to big organizations, which tend to have a lot of cash to spend. And enterprise tech companies tend to play in large potential markets, which means lots of growth potential beyond the current S-1 snapshot.
Wearables, such as the smart watch, created for mass market appeal have had marginal success. Taking the cue for a new approach, Google and Levis collaborated to create a commuter jean jacket, specifically for urbanites who cycle around town. The tech is discreet and focused solving problems and enhancing the experience of a niche market. Hayley Tsukayama says in The Washington Post that this signals a change that could be replicated in many, many more niche markets.