Top 7 Toughest Marketing Challenges

Top 7 Toughest Marketing Challenges
This is a great time to be in marketing. It’s also a very tough time to be in marketing. I’ve been marketing technology and biotech for over 25 years and co-founded the ad creative awards program Ice Awards in 2001. I’ve never seen such challenges. Let’s take a look.
  1. Digital Ad Conundrum: Brands are increasingly shifting their budgets to digital channels. This is a boon and a nightmare for agencies. With ad blockers on the rise and consumers learning to ignore ads it creates a conundrum for marketers.
  2. Marketing Automation: With so many digital channels and the rise of mobile, the tech industry has responded with an abundance of marketing automation tools. The challenge for marketers is to find the right mix and then there’s the challenge of #1 above coming into play.
  3. Analytics Overload: With all these digital tools comes a dearth of analytics. Social media monitoring, web analytics (each having their own methodology), Big Data analytics and so on. The debate on what to measure, how and why has been raging for well over a decade.
  4. Geopolitics: Digital channel giants Facebook, YouTube and Google are facing an ethical dilemma; monitoring for terrorism and human rights abuses and how much responsibility they bear. Marketers have to now be more aware than ever of geopolitical issues.
  5. Social Norms and Rules: With the current U.S. political climate and the earth’s climate, brands are making political and social stands unlike ever before. This can build brand loyalty and also alienate some segments. But marketers now have to have an eye on societal issues unlike ever before.
  6. Educating Marketers: Look at almost any marketing job description today and brands are calling for skills/certifications in HubSpot, Google Ad Words and analytics…brands want skills universities are lagging behind on teaching. Students need to get certifications beyond a marketing degree just for entry level jobs.
  7. Emerging Technologies: From Virtual and Augmented Reality to Artificial Intelligence and cryptocurrencies. These technologies offer some exciting opportunities, but for marketers, the challenge is how to leverage them and when to invest.

These are the main challenges I see today. There are, no doubt, more. What do you see?

The Benefits of 3D Mapping Our World

The Benefits of 3D Mapping Our World
Most of us have used Google Maps at some point and some of us just about every day. Then there’s Apple’s Maps (which are slowly getting better.) A new company called Carmera is paving the road to 3D mapping not just for autonomous vehicles, but for architects and city planners. And it’s autonomous vehicles that most will think of for using 3D mapping. But it plays a bigger role in our society as we increasingly fuse the digital and physical worlds we occupy.
Beyond Vehicles and City Planning
As embed more and more sensors into devices from lamp posts to cars, buildings and windows, we’re going to be able to “map” our physical world in incredible ways. Here are some of the uses and advantages of 3D mapping our world;
Firefighting & Policing: Fire departments will have continuously updated information on cities and the buildings. Both police and fire can use VR and AR tools with 3D maps for training simulations. It can also provide criminal intelligence and help reduce risk for raids. Firefighters can constantly update plans and strategies for fire fighting.
Infestation Management: Rats, always the rats. And increasingly those urban pandas…raccoons. Using 3D mapping cities and pest control services can map infestation movements and develop countermeasures.
Insurance & Actuaries: Two groups that are hungry for data. They can use 3D maps of urban areas to help with risk analysis and predictive analytics for building insurance.
Healthcare: Hospitals can use 3D maps to plan ambulance routes and perhaps as part of epidemiology studies and preparations.
Logistics: Companies like FedEx and UPS or DHL could use 3D maps for planning delivery routes and drone delivery.
As always, technological advances find entirely new ways of being used that we can’t quite predict. Such as Twitter being developed as an ambulance dispatch tool; look how that turned out.
What interesting ways do you see 3D mapping being used in the near future?

Virtual Reality Has a Social Problem

Virtual Reality Has a Social Problem
To listen to the pundits, by Christmas 2017 we’ll all be diving under the tree for Virtual Reality goggles, from junior to senior, maybe even grandma too. Except, we won’t be. Microsoft just launched it’s tongue-twister flagship gaming console the Xbox One X (don’t say it too fast.) And it has no real support for VR. Nor does Sony’s PlayStation or Nintendo’s latest Switch.
Virtual Reality Has A Social Problem
For the most part, in the few games I’ve tried, VR is a rather solitary experience. Most VR games and approaches in development have been single-person focused. This largely makes sense since it is easier to develop technologies like this in the single person.
But console video games over the past decade have evolved very differently. Franchises like Call of Duty, Halo and Medal of Honour and sports games, thrived by being multiplayer in their very nature. The initial instalments of games like Halo and even sports games were 1-2 players and some online multiplayer. As broadband became less costly and more ubiquitous the game companies invested less and less in the story line, going for MRR (monthly recurring revenue) business models. Good for the gaming companies, but bad for the solitary nature of VR right now.
Augmented Reality is the Transitional Technology
Pokemon. Enough said. Even Apple realizes the mid-term strategy is Augmented Reality (AR.) Consumers are far more comfortable to adapting to AR right now because they already have a smartphone that they’ve adapted into their way of living. Are you really going to slap on a pair of VR goggles in Walmart to go shopping? Exactly. But you’ll hold up your phone to see layered information on a product.
The Problem is the Hardware and the Socialization
VR goggles, even the simpler version you can slide a Samsung Galaxy into, are still a difficult technology for most people. You have to stop and put them on. And be vulnerable. Not something most people want to do in public. People aren’t comfortable blocking their senses in public. This is easier with AR, since you don’t block out your situational awareness. The lizard brain is still a strong factor.
The secondary issue is the social factor of VR. It just isn’t very social. There just aren’t that many other people connected at the same time and few tools encourage or have socialization features. This is a problem in a world still trying to figure out social media a decade later. Are all your friends rushing out to by VR goggles?
The Short Term Prognosis for VR
For at least the next decade, VR will be a very specialized area. There is tons of economic opportunity for VR, don’t get me wrong. It’s a brilliant tool for trade skills, military, medical and technical training. The VR companies that understand this and focus in this way, will make money. They will also be ready for when mass consumer adoption is ready. But as a mass consumer technology? Not for a decade at least, if not longer.
In the meantime, look for advances in AR tools and those ever awkward eyeglasses.
What do you think?

Are Software Engineers Endangered?

Are Software Engineers Endangered?
So that’s a bold statement to open with. But by 2025, or perhaps earlier, most anybody who can use Microsoft Office will be able to build their own software apps, for desktop, mobile or well, to launch across the enterprise.
ICT’s And Their Purpose | Context
The primary function of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) is the movement and management of information. We use mobiles, laptops and desktops to create and move information. Companies develop software to sell to move information and others buy it to improve the movement of information and automate processes as much as possible. Increasingly, devices that didn’t connect to the Internet before, now do and often with a sensor. That’s software too.
We’ve Built Up So Much Code
There is so much code out there today that even GitHub is developing new ways to make it easier to find and use. Software developers and engineers often incorporate existing code that they modify to their needs.
With Apple’s Swift and new Android tools, developing an app for a mobile device is a lot easier than before. It is almost the same for Enterprise software and computer apps.
The Age of Drag and Drop Building
As this code repository has grown and continues to grow and as ICTs become easier to use, so will come the time when building a new app to deploy across the enterprise will be done not by the IT department, but by the marketing team or perhaps even the HR department who wants a new way to manage the recruiting process.
We already see this in tools like Slack or Podio. They can be quickly customized without the need for the IT department. They will become more powerful and adaptable as time progresses.
The Software Engineers Will Go Deep 
In the future, where software developers and engineers will be needed is on the deep-end of things. To keep those primary surface apps running, manage the massive database systems and ensure network deployments are smooth…and step in to fix broken things. It’s software, it breaks. They’ll also have to manage the transitions and interface between new easy-to-use software and the old legacy systems that will persist for a long time yet.
But it won’t be long before there is an enterprise system that is so flexible that each department and team can make their own apps in a few hours. The software engineer isn’t entirely endangered, but their roles will undergo a fundamental and more important, shift in the years ahead.
What do you think?

Why We Need More Elon Musks

Why We Need More Elon Musks
In most of today’s world, you are more likely to die from sugar than you are gunpowder. The average lifespan is pushing into the 80’s around most of the world. Disease pandemics are smaller than ever before in history. War and conflicts are declining as the financial incentive to go to war fades away. Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and robotics are fundamentally changing our society as the internet already has. We are transforming society in a bigger way than the industrial revolution or reformations ever have.
The Time for Audacious Ideas
As robotics and artificial intelligence transform the industrial, manufacturing and knowledge sectors and blockchain revolutionizes the financial world, huge transitions in the employment world will take place. A big concern for governments and economists is what to do with the surplus workers tossed out of jobs; how to re-train them, the supposed loss of disposable income, perhaps income period and all that extra time we’re supposed to have. And then there’s people living longer, the concept of retiring at 65 is fast fading.
The reality is that the feared huge displacement won’t happen instantly. It will happen over years and perhaps decades. With big, audacious ideas, the retraining may be minimal for welders, electricians, fabricators and so on. Artificial Intelligence will not replace lawyers or doctors, it will enhance them.
Why We Need More Elon Musk Types
I can’t wait for the big ideas and innovations that will come from the first woman entrepreneur; those will be fantastic. What Elon Musk has done is to transform the space race, kick-start a game change in transportation (through Tesla, Hyperloop and space.) It is these big ideas that result in massive new capital outlays and huge construction projects.
Sergei Brin, Google’s co-founder, is investing millions into an airship; these could be a part of a huge transformation in moving goods. It is precisely these big ideas that we need. Why? As supportive technologies like robotics and AI improve and become part of our world, as wars decrease and we live longer, we can now achieve these once crazy ideas. Such big ideas inspire and open new opportunities.
What Stands in the Way?
Well, as usual, us, human society. Those usual suspects; unimaginative shareholders focused on the “now”, political agendas, old-school economic thinking and of course, fear of change. But as history proves, such roadblocks are, at best, temporary in the bigger scheme of things. We are at a breathtaking time in the development of humanity…we need more inventors, entrepreneurs and people with really big, transformative ideas. They will create jobs and grow our economies in new ways.
What’s your audacious, crazy, awesome big idea?

How Your Job Will Get Better With Artificial Intelligence

How Your Job Will Get Better With Artificial Intelligence
There’s a lot of hype around Artificial Intelligence (AI) knocking out great swathes of jobs, from low-level administration all the way over to lawyers and doctors. Yes, to some degree. But that will be a while before it has a truly significant impact on the economy. Based on my work with clients across a number of industries and the role of AI, it’s more likely your job will be made better by AI, not worse. Let’s take a quick look.
The Mundane Stuff Goes Away
Almost every job role has mundane tasks, they may be quick but boring, or tedious. But they are almost always processes that involve the management of information; whether that be numerical or textual, it is all about information management. Today, AI does exceptionally well at repetitive, mundane, process driven tasks. Just because an AI system can do those tasks, doesn’t mean job loss for you. It means being able to spend more time doing what challenges you and benefits the company. Monday’s may not be so bad again…
Create More Career Opportunities
As AI takes on the mundane, this may give you more opportunities. Wise companies will deploy skills and job improvement educational programs via eLearning platforms. You’ll have opportunities to grow. How many certifications can you hang on your wall?
Relieve Some Stress
Taking on the boring stuff that can be stressful, will enable you to exercise the brain a bit more and take away some of that stress. This gives us a better chance at the elusive work/life balance challenge.
Enable Greater Cross-Team Functionality
As AI will help manage information flows and execute certain process driven tasks, this will enable, with those added skills you’ll get, greater cross-functional team projects. Companies will do better and so will employees.
More Interesting Jobs Will be Created
When ATM’s were introduced into banking, the assumption was no more human bank teller jobs. In fact the opposite happened. There are now more human tellers than ever. Because now tellers do more, have more responsibility and have increased their skills. It’s hard to imagine what jobs will be created, but they will be. That’s human nature.
So what do you think? Are there other ways your job might improve?

Technology & Society’s Big Questions

Technology & Society’s Big Questions
The hype around emerging technologies like blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), self-driving cars, Big Data, home automation, drones and so on, is loud. The hopes of Alphabet, Microsoft, IBM, Apple, Amazon and others all rest on these technologies taking off. They all offer great opportunities to advance commerce, create and destroy jobs and make our world a better place. There are downsides to each as well, as it is with all technologies. The printing press enabled the exchange of knowledge, but also lead to a lot of arguing between academics…but there are some serious questions we’re going to have to deal with in the next few years. Here I take a look at some of them and maybe you’ll have one or two to add.
Free Will & Human Agency: While privacy has and continues to be a concern, the issues of free will and human agency could be even bigger. No more so than with predictive analytics. Imagine that you apply to university for a commerce undergrad and you’re rejected. Why? Because the university’s predictive analytics program saw that neither of your parents had a college degree and worked blue collar jobs, so no advanced education for you. Or you’re rejected for car insurance based on an AI algorithm. Does this take away your free will?
The Jobs Gap: It is likely that whole new jobs will be created from all these technologies. But they won’t happen overnight. If mass unemployment happens, that will mean no money to consume goods. Robots might be efficient, but if there’s no one to buy the goods they produce, they’re not much use. This will have to be addressed through government or corporate programs. Will Basic Income be a solution?
Who Owns Your Biologicals: There have already been legal battles over who owns their genome. This could get worse as we introduce 3D printing of human organs and perhaps even brain tissues.
The Underground Economy: Hundreds of millions of people around the world rely on “cash under the table” to survive. If we eliminate cash with technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrencies, tracking to taxation becomes easier and sliding money under the table not so easy. Is this okay?
There are many more big questions around these emerging technologies. In some cases these technologies may end up taking several decades to be truly integrated into our societies. Some may be stopped altogether or radically changed. Just how much should government regulate? Can corporations self-regulate?