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Guest column: Digital outlook for 2018

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MUMBAI: The year 2017 is behind us and, as we peek into 2018, there is so much to look forward to. The digital landscape is so dynamic and ever-evolving that an annual trend-spotting article would be unfair. But still there are key areas where digital is heading and I can safely say that 2018 is going to be a year of technology and innovation. 2018 is also the year of the dog, according to the Chinese calendar, and brands and agencies who remain loyal to their technological prowess and who are open to newer territories will emerge as differentiators in the cluttered space. 

Consolidated big data

Data is going to the king going forward. Empirical evidence suggests that with exhaustive consumer behaviour and spending patterns, marketers can position their brands accordingly. This, coupled with improved data analysis and research, can improve customer experiences and journeys, personalise marketing initiatives and make the whole experience meaningful and convenient.

AI will lead the way

If AI were added to the mix, it becomes a formidable weapon in interpreting data. The data is useless unless there is an intelligent way of analysing it. And AI does that precisely. 2018 will be the year we will see this going mainstream. AI will help to not just optimise customer experiences but also reduce marketing investments by finally removing the subjective nature around the question of what worked and what didn't.

Focus on visual search  

The latest mobile phone from Google has a feature called Google Lens. This was used by Nokia also few years ago but Google is now backing it with their redoubtable AI technology. For instance, Google Lens will help users learn all about a retail outlet by simply pointing their phone camera at it.  The search could throw up discount coupons, too, leading to direct footfalls. Visual search can be leveraged by retail and travel brands. As the feature matures, we will see use cases across the spectrum. 

Algorithms will keep evolving

Machine learning will make algorithms much smarter and we will see marketing models changing. 2018 may just be the year that will define the direction marketing automation will take in years to come.

Blockchain and IndiaChain

Blockchain was the buzzword of 2017. Blockchain was used by Bitcoin but the scope is not limited to cryptocurrencies only. In lay man’s terms, blockchains are encrypted and secured distributed ledgers of economic transactions. On the same lines, NITI Aayog has an ambitious plan to develop its own blockchain called IndiaChain. The idea is to build a distributed ledger system that makes data manipulation virtually impossible through verification by other stakeholders in the network. Not just across the nation, once operational, IndiaChain will also be the largest blockchain in the world. What’s in it for marketers? Well to start with, Indian fintech companies will benefit a lot from IndiaChain. It will allow them to leverage this network to their advantage. This will speed up contract enforcements, minimise fraudulent transactions, increase transparency and precision in operations.

Talk and search

Back in 2016, when Google introduced its new assistant and messaging platform, there were quite a few eyebrows raised. The question was, in the cluttered messaging environment, was this any different? Well to be fair, Google has answered its detractors. The Google Assistant can engage in a two-way conversation with the user and this has been possible because of Google’s language-processing algorithm. With the rise of voice-driven search assistants from Amazon and Apple, spoken search-terms will be the norm.

The author is founder and CEO of Tonic Worldwide. The views expressed are personal and Indiantelevision.com may not subscribe to them.

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