Marketers Must Learn to Anticipate Content Trends

Every company, regardless of size, knows they must advertise if they are to grow. Yet with all the money that is being spent, it is increasingly difficult to get your message to the right audience. This is where it pays to be anticipatory. Using the systemic method outlined in my Anticipatory Organization Model, you can ready your organization for the disruptive transformations ahead.

Do you remember when MTV was the best way to get in front of the teen and young adult audience? Once mobile technology became popular, it didn’t take long for that age group to be on the move.

In no time, videos were streaming on iTunes. Though teens continued to watch, viewership dropped. Then came instant messaging, followed by social media. For a time, Facebook gave advertisers their niche audience of young consumers congregated in one place.

That is until Snapchat and Instagram came along.

To add to the challenges of the last couple of decades, smart speakers are now in about one-quarter of U.S. homes, and podcasts are gaining popularity. In fact, about 50 percent of households now say they listen to podcasts, with a majority of them joining the trend in just the last three years.

According to whypodcasts.org, 38 percent of listeners are age 18-34, and 64 percent listen on their smartphones.

What’s Next in Target Marketing?

As technology-driven change changes direction, it is easier, and far more profitable, to change direction with it. “It’s easier to ride a horse in the direction it is going.” That’s what my grandfather told me as a little boy working with him on his farm in Texas.

Every company, regardless of size, knows they must advertise if they are to grow. Yet with all the money that is being spent, it is increasingly difficult to get your message to the right audience.

This is where it pays to be anticipatory. Using the systemic method outlined in my Anticipatory Organization Model, you can ready your organization for the disruptive transformations ahead.

Three Hard Trends and Two Tech Trends to Watch

In my work as a technology and business futurist, I have found the most effective way to approach becoming an AO is to focus on demographics, government regulations, and technology. In addition, it is always good to know which consumer technology trends will stick around. I call these Hard Trends (as opposed to Soft Trends, which may come and go).

  • Demographics drive opportunity. There are nearly 80 billion baby boomers in the United States. Not a single one is getting any younger—a definite Hard Trend.

  • Government regulation is a constant. As a general rule, will there be more or less government regulation in the future? Of course, there will be more, and that’s true regardless of the industry or organization. That’s also a Hard Trend.

  • Technology will continue to grow. From the ever-increasing functional capabilities of our smartphones to the growing use of 3D printing, technology is inevitably going to become more functional, more sophisticated, and more widespread. That’s another definite Hard Trend.

  • Multi-layered media is here to stay. According to research, our attention spans are shorter than ever, and consumers demand instant gratification and quick fixes—not a litany of product features and benefits.

Today, content channels such as social media, Apple Watch, and Google Home provide the perfect vehicles for interactivity at any time, in any place, and with any person.

  • Consumer attention is likely to stay at a premium. At least for the foreseeable future, multi-layered media is here to stay. Consumer attention remains at a premium.

Advertisers know the harsh reality: Running an ad on a major television network and supplementing it with web banner ads is no longer a guarantee of reaching the audience.

If you use my Hard Trends Methodology to look ahead to the future of marketing, you’ll be able to anticipate the fast-moving innovations to come. New devices are likely to be developed, and their connectivity doesn’t show signs of slowing any time soon.

Learn to be anticipatory—start with my book, the Anticipatory Organization, available on Amazon.com.

The Risks of Sticking with Legacy Technology

Legacy technology is like that old pair of jeans you wore as a teenager. “They are comfortable” was always your answer to any inquiry.

Legacy technology is like that old pair of jeans you wore as a teenager. “They are comfortable” was always your answer to any inquiry.

Move that anecdote onto a larger stage and you have a fairly accurate picture of why many organizations hold on to legacy technology—tools that are long outdated: comfort.

In a world of exponential change, legacy technology is trouble. Continuing to use outdated technology of all sorts is costly beyond the financial spectrum.

Legacy Technology Defined

A definition of legacy technology describes the term as “an old method, technology, computer system or application program, of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system.”

This particular definition frames legacy technology in a negative light. There’s no getting around the fact that legacy technology is pervasive.  

In more recent news, several organizations have experienced setbacks from legacy technology:

  • Last year, Data Breaches compromised 15.1M patient records with 503 incidents.
  • In late 2016, British bank Tesco shut down online banking in early November after 40,000 accounts were compromised, half by hackers for fraudulent purposes. Andrew Tschonev, technical specialist at security firm Darktrace, stated: “With attackers targeting everyone and anyone, today’s businesses cannot safely assume that it won’t happen to them.”
  • In July 2016, Southwest Airlines canceled 2,300 flights when a router failed, delaying hundreds of thousands of passengers. The same issue grounded 451 Delta Air Lines flights weeks later.
  • In November 2015, Orly Airport in Paris was forced to ground planes for several hours when the airport’s weather data management system crashed. The system was Windows 3.1.

Bad PR? Yes, but Much More Than That

Reputations are important, and high-profile incidents like these don’t create great headlines. But the reasons to move on from legacy technology stretch further:

Data breaches. As Tesco discovered, legacy technology is open to cyber crime. Vendor support is often nonexistent, which limits valuable upgrades. Furthering security risks, advantages of improvements in security measures are not easily accessible for old systems.

Expensive functionality. Revamping outdated technology can be an expensive proposition, but running outdated technology increases operating costs also. Old hardware versions lack modern power-saving technology and the systems’ maintenance is expensive.

Compliance penalties. Depending on your industry, legacy technology may not be in compliance. In the medical industry, outdated software will fail to meet compliance standards, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), resulting in severe financial penalties.

Customer loss. No matter the industry, offering outdated solutions and ideas derived from equally outdated technology will prompt customers to look elsewhere for better answers.

Unreliability. Many organizations hold on to legacy systems in the belief that the systems still work. If that’s not the case, consider what happens when something goes wrong, as seen in the detrimental examples above.

Perception issues. Leaders need to be aware of the message they’re sending to their employees. Consider how a younger employee who’s comfortable with technology might react to coping with the limitations of legacy technology. Aside from lost productivity, they may consider a new employer more willing to invest in current infrastructures.

“No” Can Be More Costly Than “Yes”

Replacing legacy technology is not entirely devoid of downsides, the most obvious being cost. Other deterrents include legacy replacement projects failing or the time and cost involved in system testing and end-user retraining.

But the question remains: Are you and your organization comfortable with the old, or are you identifying the Hard Trends that are shaping the future and embracing the new? Are you anticipating the need to invest and upgrade before tragedy occurs? There’s not one organization in the examples provided that doesn’t wish to go back and pre-solve the problems of outdated systems.

Before making any decisions, assess both Hard Trends and Soft Trends that affect your organization and industry. Consider the positive and negative impacts that replacing legacy systems may carry both internally and externally. Be certain that every element for the new system serves a well-defined business goal, now and in the future.

As I emphasize in my Anticipatory Organization Learning System, saying yes can be expensive, but saying no could be catastrophic.