Dreamforce marks the point in time each year when nearly 170,000 marketers, sales professionals and technologists descend upon San Francisco to learn more about the trends, products and solutions that are shaping the future of business for the next year and beyond. Keynotes and sessions were dominated this year by how that the Internet of Things is changing the ways in which we operate and communicate.
Platforms are integrating, the cloud is connecting data and systems, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is fueling an “intelligence revolution.” These changes have some key implications for how marketers need to evolve how we do business and tell stories:
1. The Internet of Things and machine learning create major opportunities
Smart devices, connected equipment, sensors and wearable technology are getting more sophisticated and more prolific. By 2020, the average person is likely to have 26 connected devices. Businesses can use IoT to harvest and produce massive amounts of data that can then be analyzed and interpreted for many different purposes. Within a company or database, processes can be automated and algorithms allow machines to get smarter based on the data they are analyzing. This means number crunching and technical work can be handled by software. Actions executed by either consumers or other technology can trigger other actions without people involved. All of these systems are then connected by the cloud, allowing for the seamless flow of data from one platform to the next.
2. Figuring out what to do with data is a core challenge for the immediate future
All that data generated by IoT creates opportunities…but the learning curve is steep. 90 percent of the world’s data was produced in the last year alone, which means that we are only scratching the surface in terms of what we will have to work within the next 5-10 years. But there’s an incredible gap between the data available to us currently and what we do with it. According to Salesforce less than 1 percent of customer data is currently analyzed, which means it is being underutilized. We need to make sure we, and our clients, are equipped with the right tools to process data and use it to glean actionable insights.
3. Data-driven decision making means we tell can tell stories differently
It’s not just that there’s a new imperative to turn data into insights. We need to think about how to use those insights to drive our strategy, inform our planning and feed the stories we tell on behalf of our clients. In a creative newsroom, our clients are already starting to use data from online conversations, web traffic, social content performance, email marketing and consumer insights to inform content creation. We use those same insights to inform creative strategy for program planning. But, beyond the inputs we currently use, we should be thinking about what else we can do to tell new and innovative stories about companies and our client’s target audiences.
4. Consumers expect personalized experiences
Consumers increasingly expect companies and technology to learn from what they do and meet their needs accordingly. Of course they want a personalized browsing experience on the websites they visit and emails should certainly include personalized content. But they want more – they want their experience to be seamless from the sales rep in store (or online shopping cart), to the recommendations they’re sent and the customer service chat a year later. This desire for personal attention underscores the value in collecting data from consumers along their individual journeys, and letting those inputs trigger personalized communications and care tailored to their needs.
5. All of these changes impact the future of work
Understanding and evolving to accommodate the new opportunities provided by the Internet of Things and the technology that’s emerging to manage it requires a lot of organizational change. As processes are automated, job functions change as well. We have to prepare our clients to think differently about how they do business, but also how to manage those changes among employees. It’s not just about getting the right technology and tools in place, it’s also about creating the environment to make it work. We heard loud and clear at Dreamforce that the executives driving this intelligence revolution recognize the need for culture development and change management in conjunction with workforce development, process change and technology platform updates.
Ultimately, the intelligence revolution presents us new and exciting challenges and the landscape is changing at a rapid pace. It’s important for us to think holistically about how our clients can evolve to meet the needs of their internal and external audiences as they navigate these changes.
Image credit: Michelle Prieb