Beyond Advertising

The world is changing fast. You’ve probably heard that phrase so often that it’s just a bunch of word-shaped noise for you, indistinguishable from the general roar of the bazillion other things on your plate today. It is passive, anyway. You have nothing to do with it. Unspecified things are happening, and you have limited agency to spur them on or stop them cold. Unless, of course, you’re one of the folks actively changing the world.

Our smarter planet (forgive me for the IBM lingo here, but there really is no better way to put it) is sustained by a new natural resource—data. This data is used more efficiently and intensively by a large and growing cloud computing infrastructure, and as data’s potential becomes clearer, people grow ever more comfortable with sharing it. Engagement and sharing of data is an expected part of being a consumer; it’s table stakes for tapping into a better life. For businesses, these changes mean that value will be created in new and exciting ways through the use of technology, systems of engagement and
content. Your business — no matter what business it is — is grappling with data, sorting out how to analyze it and where to store it. You’re wondering what consumers and your customers will want in
return for sharing information with you, and you know deep down that you have to act authentically, respecting and protecting the trust consumers place in you. You are starting to see that your business is at its core a collection of services, both physical and virtual, which customers tap into according to co-created guidelines.

In other words, the future we’ve been talking about has arrived, and you are one of the people who has
brought us to it. Of course, you are also facing the same dilemma the rest of us are grappling with. We’re like the dog who actually caught the car we were chasing. We’ve snagged this thing. Now, what do we make of it? Maybe this.

Data will be the competitive advantage for every company, or at least those that can figure out how
to use it. Already we’ve seen tremendous increases in data efficiency. Descriptive analytics have given way to predictive ones, and prescriptive analytics are emerging now. The companies that succeed will be those that truly exploit the value of data. To do that well, companies will turn to the cloud. Already 80 percent of software is developed for the cloud and it will be used to transform IT and business processes into transparent services that customers can tap into.

Social and mobile are joining data in a seamless whole that empowers people with unprecedented access to knowledge and burgeoning demands for value in return for sharing the data that powers the whole ecosystem.Every industry will have to answer this in its own way, but when it comes to my business—
communicating with consumers and customers— the answer is this: We need to transform our industry and move beyond advertising towards engagement. This has philosophical as well as technical implications because of the underlying requirements to let information flow freely and let consumers interact through what are called systems of engagement

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