70% of organisations are not ready for the future. Technological advancements such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence, VR/AR, IoT and voice interfaces are disruptively impacting businesses and branding. How do you ensure that your organisation is ready for the future and your brand drives superior business value in a rapidly changing world? In this article I will discuss the five most influential technologies and provide some practical tips to future-proof your organisation and your brand.

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1. The rise of 5G and Big Data

Be prepared: 5G, the fifth generation in mobile networks, is on its way. Besides being 50 to 100 times faster than the current technology, it means bandwidth will no longer be a limitation – the problem of insufficient data speed will be gone, forever. This will have a huge influence on the user experience (UX) – the way in which your customers perceive your brand, collect information and purchase your products and services. Your customers expect simple “click-and-buy” systems, fast delivery times and an immediate response. The fact that there will be much more data available, means more insight than ever into the customer journey and the possibility to perfectly align your brand experience with your (potential) customers. Data analysis and interpretation have not yet been included in the working methods of many organisations, so make sure you get your team of data analysts ready to go.

2. Artificial intelligence (AI) & machine learning (ML)

Whilst privacy is important, our data is increasingly being gathered and technology is getting smarter. Think about services like Google Now or Amazon Recommendations. AI and ML make it possible to find patterns in customer behaviour and better tailor and personalise your products and services to their needs. You will receive more insight into how people interact with your brand and this offers lots of opportunities to increasingly interweave it into the daily life of your customers. There has never been so many brands as there are right now and everyday new brands are emerging. How do you distinguish yourself from other brands? AI and ML can give you relevant answers.

"Customers expect simple “click-and-buy” systems, fast delivery times and an immediate response."

3. The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) has come into our lives very quickly. Think about your thermostat that you can set remotely one hour before you come home or your lights that turn off with a voice message when you want to go to sleep. Examples of IoT products and solutions are everywhere. For your organisation this means that you have more ways to improve your products and services and you need to look at relevant partnerships with other products and services to help facilitate this. It also means more transparency for your brand. An organisation is the brand, which means that communication and brand experience must start from within – the people within the organisation can be the brand’s most powerful ambassadors. Additionally, the feeling that people associate with your brand is becoming increasingly important. A strong reputation is driven by relevance and an authentic ‘brand purpose’, and people will become more aware of this.

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4. Digital reality: virtual reality (VR) & augmented reality (AR)

VR and AR are not just part of the entertainment and gaming industry anymore, they are becoming more and more relevant to daily life. Leading organisations have started to explore the possibilities of VR and AR. IKEA has launched a functionality in their app to make it possible to see their furniture in your own living room. The rise of VR and AR means that new, creative (multi-sensory) brand experiences are possible. Compared to advertising formats like banner or TV adverts, 4D and 5D experiences create a much stronger and longer-lasting impression. This results in increased brand involvement and brand loyalty, two of the most important KPI’s your organisation should have to survive in the digital age. That’s why, to stay ahead of your competitors, it’s important to challenge your established customer journey and explore the endless creative possibilities of VR and AR.

"Anticipate the growth of voice search and its impact on your SEO strategy, and consider whether it’s useful to develop your own brand voice."

5. Voice-interfaces: voice marketing/branding

Voice control of devices is becoming more important in our lives. Devices with digital assistants, such as Alexa, Cortana, Bixby and Siri, are growing exponentially in usage. The biggest impact of voice is that your customers will make an increasingly less conscious choice to buy your brand, with devices choosing for them, probably based on previous purchase habits or preset preferences. For organisations it’s important to find new ways to integrate brand experience into the customer journey. Assess the impact of the rise of voice control on your brand, map the changes in the customer journey and accept that you must change things in your marketing and brand strategy. Anticipate the growth of voice search and its impact on your SEO strategy, and consider whether it’s useful to develop your own brand voice.

Even though these technological developments might seem daunting, they can offer you lots of chances to make your business grow. So instead of looking at them as threats, start seeing the opportunities that the digital age has to offer and dive into them. History has taught us that organisations that fail to innovate are the organisations that eventually fade away. So, experiment smart and fast and make room for change in the years ahead.