Artificial Intelligence, voice, AR/VR, events, and international expansion – these are some of the things that have industry leaders thinking as they contemplate the future and growth for their businesses.
In the lead up to the FIPP World Congress, here is a selection of leaders sharing their views on future trends, emerging tech and growth areas for their specific businesses. Hear more from them at the Congress, 9-11 October, in London.
There is a range of trends that I’ll try to organise for the Congress, but let’s just cover a couple. One is artificial intelligence and augmented reality/virtual reality. I am interested in robotics and how that manifests itself with things like self-driving cars. These are trends that I think media and education need to be anticipating, because they’re happening already.
Can we start to think about the HBR archives in ways that we can use machines to get smart, for example? How can those archives, powered by machines, really serve a CEO? That’s where all of a sudden trends come together.
Are there virtual worlds where we can bring people together? For instance, we do something called the HBR ‘How I did it’ feature, which is part of the magazine. So can we have the CEO talk with an editor using VR? Imagine if that CEO is talking about his or her business and we can bring the audience into their business, to show them the shop floor, to talk about an issue the audience is really dealing with.
These are trends that are happening right now and it’s incumbent upon the media company and HBR to find really lean and low-cost ways to learn as much as possible about where our future customer is heading.
I think some of the emerging disruptive technologies such as voice-activated products – like Amazon’s Alexa – are creating a range of exciting opportunities for media companies like Hearst.
In the US, Alexa users can hear daily snippets of wisdom from Oprah Winfrey, which is a brilliant innovation.
I’m also very interested in what our clients are saying to us about their concerns about the ‘flight to quality’ as they seek to improve online brand safety.
We have reached the end of the digital beginning for the media. The Internet is two decades old. ‘New’ media is no longer new, and the contours of the digital media industry are becoming clear.
The platforms are here – and they are a classic ‘gravity problem’, that is not really a problem at all, but a fact of life that must be dealt with. The industry knows now more or less what its ‘ur-challenges’ are and can start to optimize itself for this environment.
The ongoing stream of ‘shiny new things’ will not cease – depending on who you talk to today it includes from video, machine learning, notifications, AR, VR and Amazon Echo. Intelligent processes need to be designed to master the decisions that arise in connection with them.
We’re spending a lot of time with product development, trying to think of how we can arrange our forecasts so that people who have a subscription can go in and call up specific charts or have charts essentially custom-built before their eyes – by selecting the metrics they want and the countries they’re interested in. So there are all kinds of things that we can do to use the technology that we write about in our own reports.
Creating video segments is an example of another way young people might want to consume our reports. So there are lots of exciting opportunities from a product standpoint.
One of the reasons we chose Axel Springer (as an investor) is that they’re very strong in Germany and Western Europe, and that’s where we’re trying to grow our business. We’re strong in the US, strong in Canada, strong in the UK, but then there’s the rest of Western Europe. Asia is also a territory we haven’t begun to really tackle yet. So there are lots and lots of white space ahead of us.
We are focused on three main trends right now. The first is events. We’ve not traditionally been an event business, but we’ve got plans on that front. In terms of the value chain, events are really where it’s at. Traditionally, media companies have been very successful in branding and they’ve been good at lead gen, but we want to get to the point where we’re facilitating a handshake. So we’re going to do that through thought leadership events as well as through what we call hosted-buyer events, which we’re very excited about it.
The second thing is gaining a deeper understanding of our audience and first-party data, which I think is something that all media companies are suffering from a lack of. We’re making a big investment in account-based marketing and data capabilities to tie together digital and events so that we can say ‘hey, we’re going to invite these people to get in the room with you and really pull it all together across channels’.
The third piece for us is really around subject matter expertise. The world is getting more complex and there are more things happening in the adtech/martech space. We’re restructuring to put forth a deeper voice, a voice that has more analysis, and a voice that can really bring the leaders together through a combination of journalism and industry experts, which goes back to that community idea.
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