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What will be the next transformational technology?

Posted by Bethany Simpson on February 4th, 2013 at 10:46 pm

I wish I could package all of the conversations we're having at the iMedia Brand Summit. The topics have ranged from the practical to the theoretical, and have given me a valuable list of ideas to take back to the office.

One of the most interesting conversations was with Tom Garrett from Universal Technical Institute. We were talking about the pattern culture goes through of incremental and transformational shifts, and wondering what the next transformational shift will be. Here's the context. iPhones? Transformational. iPads? Incremental. (Though amazing.) Laptops? Transformational. Ultrabooks? Incremental. We're currently in a period of incremental change. And while advancements in social platforms, programmatic buying and mobile interactivity have all changed our jobs, they haven't been cultural game changers.

One of our companions at dinner defined transformational shifts as the ones that makes consumers nervous. I like that description. For example, here's a great clip of Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel discussing the internet on the Today Show… in 1994. (Bob Thacker used this clip in his presentation this morning.) In the clip, they describe the internet as "…that massive computer network; the one that's getting really big now." It's incredible to watch in 2013:

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What will the next shift be that makes use nervous? Maybe "sensorized" devices, in other words analog devices with chips added so they can learn and respond to us? Or maybe Google Glass will bring us into a new era of augmented reality and real-time sharing? (Though will that truly be transformational? Or incremental?)

Whatever it is, marketers have to be ready. We'll be ready to explore it with you at the iMedia Summits and at iMediaConnection.com.

OK, discuss. Brad Berens, I'm looking at you.

(By the way, there was also a great bourbon tasting party tonight. Thank you to Eric Wainwright for telling us the history of bourbon (did you know all bourbon has 51% corn content?) and for introducing us to Pappy Van Winkle (pictured).)

2 Responses to “What will be the next transformational technology?”

  1. Bethany says:

    Brad Berens replied on Twitter:

    ‏@bradberens:
    @bethanysimpson Really think you're underestimating the impact of wearable display. It'll change things as much as mobile has, and faster.

    Brad, I say if it's just for social sharing, it won't be a transformational change. It will just increase pic and video uploading (and the amount we pay for data plans). If wearable tech makes geo-targeting user-friendly and attractive to consumers, it will be transformational. The biggie, I think, is AR. If we can interface with the entire world digitally through wearable tech (Google Glass, etc.), that would be as transformational as the advent of the internet. Hoping that's the situation in 2-3 years.

  2. Tom Garrett says:

    I knew Brad would be tuned into this topic - and I agree with his basic premise that the question of whether some new technology is incremental or transformational will largely be driven by how it is used. Clearly the world doesn't need another cute kitten video or another Call me Maybe send up - but embedded technology that would mean you don't need a laptop, tablet, phablet or smartphone at all, but just the clothes that you wear each day, that automatically syncs with any display device that I'm close to and that is gesture driven - now that would truly transform my work life.

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