Disruptive Technologies and the Practice of Marketing

In May, the McKinsey Global Institute published a fascinating report titled Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy. The objective of this research was to identify technologies that have the potential to make a major impact on how people live and work, and on industries and economies over the next two decades or so.

The McKinsey report discusses 12 disruptive, game-changing technologies. The researchers estimate that, collectively, these technologies will produce a global economic impact of between $14 trillion and $33 trillion per year in 2025.

Two of the technologies described in the McKinsey report – the mobile Internet and the “Internet of Things” – are particularly relevant for enterprise marketers.

The Mobile Internet

Estimated global economic impact by 2025: $3.7 trillion to $10.8 trillion

I’ve discussed the importance and challenges of “mobile marketing” in earlier posts, and statistics from the McKinsey report show why the ability to create and deliver compelling content via mobile computing/communications devices is critical for enterprise marketers.

  • Sales of smartphones are projected to reach 1.3 billion units per year in 2013, while tablet sales are expected to reach 200 million units.
  • Sales of smartphones and tablets exceeded personal computer sales in 2010, and in 2013, the number of smartphones and tablets in use is expected to exceed the installed base of personal computers.
  • By 2025, nearly 80% of all Internet connections could be through mobile devices.

The Internet of Things

Estimated global economic impact by 2025: $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion.

The McKinsey researchers define the Internet of Things as the use of sensors, actuators, and data communication technology built into physical objects that enable those objects to be tracked, coordinated, or controlled across a data network or the Internet.

The Internet of Things promises to have at least two major impacts on marketing. First, the use of near-field communication and similar technologies can enable consumers to access information about an NFC-enabled product simply by touching the product with a smartphone or other device that contains an NFC chip. This will enable marketers to deliver specific and highly relevant product information to a potential buyer who has indicated interest in a concrete way.

The Internet of Things also has the potential to provide a wealth of new information to marketers. Sensors can enable marketers to essentially “interview” products and learn more about how often, when, and how the products are used. For example, a recent article in AdvertisingAge described how the Beam toothbrush can be synced with the owner’s smartphone to record brushing frequency and duration. The same article also described how Coca-Cola is using 12,000 sensor-enabled digital fountains to collect data regarding consumer drink choices and feed that data back to Coke.

The Internet of Things is in the very early stages of development, and many challenges must be overcome before it can achieve widespread use. But when fully deployed, the Internet of Things will provide a whole new level of insights to marketers.

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Author:Jan Dejosse

CMO - ADAM Software

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