2018 – the year of…

Every year at about this time, keyboard warriors come out from the woodwork and start to hypothesise how the ensuing 12 months may play out.

In the sea of want-to-be visionaries, it’s difficult to write something truly unique; even more so when you think that a lot of the changes that are being discussed are things that have been a part of the common vernacular for those in the technology space for nearly a decade. So, it’s not so much “new” as a bit of a tipping point where engineering capabilities are now being adopted more readily in 2018.

Far from the AI that comes to life in Sci Fi stories, we are now seeing a more fluid state of computing that is allowing machines to “learn” at such a rate that it appears human. We’ve already seen this take off when it comes to Bots being used online for organisations wanting to reduce their overheads for customer service. The next step must surely be harnessing these interactions to form a series of learnings actual people within organisations can draw on to make more effective decisions about strategy. I’m not talking decisions by dashboards, because savvy leaders are already across this, but whether this year or next, I’d expect that tech will command an extra chair in the boardroom for smart businesses. No longer will it be about data mining, but data direction – the point at which plans are created in real time, not in a linear sequence.

In this context, here are three things I think we should be thinking about this year:

1. It’s not about the internet of everything, but the organic relationships that are spawned as a result of the heightened degree of connectivity that is now prevalent. What do I mean? The biggest prediction I can make is unpredictability will be unbridled. The greatest revelations will come from the different “dumb” devices that converge and create new value. This will be driven by consumers, not marketers or technologists. I’m talking about things you never thought would connect but will in fact become things you later can’t imagine your life without! Imagine a bed that tells your coffee machine to make your morning brew based on how you moved/slept the night before? Things like that. For marketers, think where you could take this. Could we start seeing influencers doing coffee machine take overs? The point is, we don’t know – and that’s exciting!

2. Agency models will adjust to pivot around an enhanced capability to leverage data that falls out of these relationships. At Magnum & Co, we’ve recently been through a remodel to allow the team to do just that – keep clients at the centre. The industry has seen so much disruption but astonishingly many service organisations haven’t adapted their structures to allow this disruption to deliver on the value it promises. In 2018 we will see more hybrid agency/client partnerships form. It’s not just a matter of secondments or working inhouse, but interlocking systems – open door data policies to allow people and information to flow freely and drive intelligence further.

3. The need to give consumers a real reason to engage. I mean truly engage, not just ‘like’ a social post. The simple idea of creating interesting content only goes part way. Organisations that work with partners to create a reason for a bond, outside the too simple vanity metrics but also beyond a sales tactic will succeed. As organisations collect more behaviour data they need to think about how they can transform this into an experience that engenders them to their consumers. Something that gives back. The more info brands collect, the more there is a responsibility to use those insights as a way to empower people.

In summary – 2018 is about knocking down the walls; the preconceived ideas about how things are supposed to be. The old adage if you don’t have a plan you are planning to fail is still true, but less a matter of creating a plan as much as a way to integrate technology into your thinking to more effectively achieve your goals – after all, isn’t that what a plan is all about!?

By Magnum & Co Managing Director, Aaron Crowther