It’s funny how things work. You think you’re in a vacuum thinking about something “really innovative” and you look online to see that the rest of the world is in lock-step with you. (or worse, ahead!)
For example, before I knew what a CMS (Content Management System) was, I thought it would be great to create a system on our site where our PR agency could enter articles (and upload multi-media content) in a form like you would in MS Access. Then, I thought, we would be able to program our pages to simply pull the article data in everywhere it was relevant through a series of defined categories and/or tags. We did it from scratch and…well – a few years later, a CMS is something everyone seems to have, many as an out-of-the-box configurable solution. Sigh. I’m glad my brain unconsciously is “with the times”, and having been key in creating this tool I really, really get how it works – but having it out of the box would’ve been far less painful.
Second case in-point: the last several years, I’ve been saying that we need to consolidate our data. I’m a person who likes things neat, tidy and efficient… We’ve finally got the ball rolling and the more research we do, the more I see companies just like us who are either in the exact same process or are lucky enough to already be “living the dream” of their re-architectured, consolidated data for only a year, maybe two. The process is certainly daunting, but the upsides to the project are so great we can no longer turn a blind eye. “Agile marketing” is the buzzword of the day – to be flexible and scalable enough to stay relevant and competitive in our space, it’s where we need to go. I went to a conference through the UWEBC (University of Wisconsin E-Business Consortium) about emerging trends this past fall and it was amazing to me how in the same boat we all were and how while no one had a ready easy solution to solving the “big data” puzzle – we were all on the same road together.
So…what’s the next big thing? If I take my queues from the annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show), I would say that once we have the architecture in place – our next move would be connectivity between a range of devices, particularly monitoring or controlling products in our lives with mobile phones/tablets. Of course some of these initiatives would operate in tandem with the data projects of today and the paths would converge over time – I see it already emerging in our organization and I think my role could continue to evolve over the years where I might become a key member in not only my current Marketing function but also to projects initiated by Engineering and IT. I’ve started a mobile steering committee in my company and I’ve already got members from both of those areas, as well as our training department to help us stay in sync.
But the real question is…what’s the next big thing after that? Virtual reality glasses that give you in-context directions or special offers like billboards as you walk down the street? Holograms fueled by that consolidated, robust database we’re building? What if Web MD were more like Star Trek’s EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram) – “State the nature of your medical emergency?” If you take a moment to think about it – we’re not really that far away from something like that becoming reality. Once we have that data all connected and in place – all we need is a few years to develop (or maybe just adapt to) new mechanisms to interface with the data and we could have something pretty new, exciting and (gasp!) convenient. You think the world is at our fingertips now…just you wait!
But for now…back to the old data mine to keep chipping away. Chip, chip, chip…