Digital is changing today’s business model as a near-dizzying number of technologies create new ways for companies to generate revenue and value.
A first glance at this landscape, however, might look a little confused. As the number of technologies and platforms grow at a staggering rate, it would be easy for today’s CIO to bury their head in the sand.
But out of this apparent complexity comes opportunity. As companies increasingly digitise products, processes and services, new ways of doing business – all over the world – start to emerge. And as companies harness digital tools to achieve growth, the task for the CIO will become more challenging – but also have more potential.
So what does the future have in store for today’s CIO? Here are three digital trends for 2014.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things may sound like a buzz phrase, but it’s more important than you might think.
Broadly, the concept envisages a future internet infrastructure in which everyday objects – things – will have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive real-time data.
Imagine sensors in a public building that can detect increased footfall – the sensors then send a message to a maintenance company that the rubbish bins will need emptying soon.
On the consumer level, imagine an object that tells someone when their plants need watering.
For the IT research company Gartner, the Internet of Things has the potential to revolutionise communication through ‘smart objects’.
“It creates a world where every non-trivial object is smart and networked,” said Nick Jones, Gartner vice president.
“These smart objects can sense and report on their environment and status. Some can be controlled and all provide new types of value to customers.”
3D printing – or additive manufacturing – has revolutionised the design of plastic products, and it has wider business implications too.
The ability to make a three-dimensional solid object of (virtually) any shape from a digital model presents a whole new playing field for companies, particularly those in fashion, retail, real estate, and the military.
If CIOs could bring 3D printing into business manufacturing, it has the potential to cut waste and save money through cheaper and more efficient parts.
Elsewhere, companies will be able to develop niche, unusual, one-off products to capitalise on trends, grab the eye of the consumer and launch viral promotional campaigns.
The Rise of Content Marketing
As digital becomes more prevalent, the barriers between industries, companies and the consumer are being broken down. As such, so are the ways in which firms reach out to their customers in new and engaging ways.
Content marketing, while certainly not a new phenomenon, is set to grow in maturity over the coming year. It is no longer enough for companies to just set up shop online and try to sell things. More and more they are realising that they need to develop effective, valuable relationships with customers if they are to truly develop their companies.
A particularly growth area next year will be multilingual content marketing. As firms go global and expand into new markets, messages and communication will be key.
To meet the global competitive challenge that the digital age brings, companies will look to harness foreign language content to ensure that they speak to their customers in the most effective ways – not just on website content, but through social media and even through relationships with their supply chains and logistics operations.
Are there any digital trends that you expect to change the world in 2014? We’d like to hear your thoughts.