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By: Allison+Partners’ B2B Technology Council
With technology upending nearly all aspects of society, business and daily life, it’s important to understand the trends that will impact business in the new year. As members of Allison+Partners’ B2B Technology Council, a group of senior leaders across the agency’s U.S. offices, we came together to discuss important trends and the types of conversations business leaders have about this new era of technology. Here are our thoughts:
Karyn Barr: As we look at the PR industry, it’s no secret B2B MarCom is a driving force for innovative campaigns. What’s more, B2B tech companies are increasingly more comfortable with the concept of integrated marketing campaigns/approaches that have been traditionally associated with B2C. I abhor cliché, so I say we bury the word “disruption” in 2018. With that said, we are witnessing a shift in the mindset of legacy companies at unprecedented speed. Status quo for press operations no longer applies and we will continue to see a hard charge by B2B tech organizations to embrace fully an integrated approach to how they communicate with key stakeholders.
Holly Barnett: While analysts have been important to IT for years, today’s technology decisions are increasingly influenced and made by line-of-business organizations throughout the enterprise. Likewise, emerging technologies, the growing adoption of IoT and the ever-present issues related to cybersecurity continue to expand the range of personas who turn to analysts for information, opinions and advice. These trends are reflected in the analyst community itself, with the largest firms becoming even bigger and smaller specialized firms gaining influence. Savvy marketing and product management teams have leveraged analysts’ knowledge and expertise for some time. But as we enter the new year, we need to open up the aperture to take advantage of their expanding influence. Even one new analyst relationship can make a big difference, with a new voice, new insights and a path to new customers and bigger deals.
Bryan Thomas: IoT. Edge Computing. Ambient Computing. Call it what you may – computing as we know it today is fading into the background, changing how we interact (or don’t interact) with technology, and requiring the C-suite to rethink their data strategies and policies. Likewise, this will be a breakout year for AI, machine learning and deep learning by breaking free from the hype and demonstrating meaningful business and societal results. Meanwhile, security will continue to be top of mind for anyone in tech, especially those concerned about securing the mountains of data generated by the trillions of sensors and connected devices. Expect to see a host of social issues being debated as well, as people grapple with the ease with which data is gathered, analyzed and shared.
Lisa Kelaita: Technology has advanced to the point where you don’t know if you’re communicating with a tool or a person. AI is transforming the use of voice and video and is providing customers the highest touch experience possible. For years, making customer experiences better was achieved through advanced data schemes targeting directly to a customer’s needs and preferences. This result was a clear revenue boost for companies. While targeting is step one, it does not always lead to personal engagement. Targeting grabs attention, but the holy grail is creating real connections through sophisticated machine learning and AI tools that facilitate real human-like engagement.
Melissa Muskett: It’s been fascinating to witness the transfer of power from the CIO/CTO to other members of the C-Suite and their line of business leaders. With AI and analytics putting the power of data in the hands of people who lead day-to-day business and develop new products and services, there’s a new group of leaders emerging as critical decision makers in the IT space. While this creates new challenges for IT professionals, it also gives them the opportunity to provide a higher level of strategic value to their organizations. As someone who has always championed the idea that technology will change the way we work and live, it’s exciting to see this all come together.
David Baum: 2018 is the year that Technology News Aggregates, aka social media, finally embrace the responsibility they have to protect data and help humanity distinguish what is fake and what is real news. In 2017, we saw the inkling of reform with new policies established by this next generation of news outlets (Facebook and Twitter). From rooting out hate speech, to codifying news sources, these organizations have recognized that with great power comes great responsibility. The drumbeat for transparency and standards has only increased from users, politicians and investors. As reform takes, hold there will be opportunity for organizations to embark on new communication campaigns that embody this new era.
Karyn Barr, Holly Barnett, Bryan Thomas, Lisa Kelaita, Melissa Muskett and David Baum are senior leaders in various Allison+Partners offices that serve on the agency’s B2B Technology Council.