Digital as a Service: watch this space

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 | 10am

As B2B marketers, we really need to keep on top of where technology is going. We have to be prepared for whatever curveball is thrown our way.

Wearable technology hasn’t yet taken off as expected, but it’s inevitable. Smartwatches aren’t that affordable – or, dare we say it, stylish – just yet, but that’ll change. Maybe when Apple finally drop the iWatch (or whatever), demand will skyrocket and the market will explode. It just needs the right product to light the fuse.

(Though you might want to remember the Apple rule – always hold off buying the initial release. Wait a few months for the revision that works like you expected it to.)

Likewise, Google Glass is still something of a curio, but that too (and similar products) will become commonplace when the price is low enough, and they get the styling right. Once it stops looking like something from a 1970s future, it will become a part of the actual future.

As a marketer, that demands your attention.

Why? Because Google has gone on record to say it won’t allow advertising on Glass.

It’s perfectly understandable, of course. The intimacy of the device would make push advertising much more invasive. The public wouldn’t tolerate it (at least not for long).

But the upshot is that we marketers are going to have to fundamentally rethink the way we converse with our audience. And soon. Traditional marketing just won’t cut it in the world of tiny screens and bitesize information.

If brands are going to get any sort of foothold in this environment, they’ll need to become either useful or entertaining – ideally both. And as marketers, if we want people to engage, we’ll either move more towards acting like media houses, drawing them in with entertainment, or we’ll be more like tech houses and start producing apps.

To me, the latter seems more likely; it’s a better fit for wearable tech platforms. “Digital as a Service” is not a new idea by any means – brand utility is a well established concept – but it just might be best way to take old-school marketing tactics into this new environment.

Once upon a time, that was Chevy offering stranded motorists a test drive alongside a rescue. Stiegel replacing beer labels with public transport tickets to reduce drink-driving. Michelin showing you the best restaurants.

That’s the kind of thinking we’ll need to replicate in B2B tech once wearables really begin shifting the goalposts. And, with the popularity of apps, we have an excellent opportunity.

So start planning now. Ask yourself what services could be essential, or at least highly useful, on wearable tech. Monitor the market, see what people are crying out for and figure out if where your brand might fit with that service.

It’s going to be a brave new tiny-screened world out there, and sooner than you think. Are you ready?

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