SES London: Shifts in the Digital Revolution

Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer, Bing UK at Microsoft, had the morning keynote at SES London. There’s a great rule this year; must be new material. Of course, Bing’s vision of the future hasn’t changed just to suit the conferences need to reduce churn so I had heard Dave’s points before but this time was able to enjoy them from a different angle.

Bing likes to talk about the web of the world. This is about integrating insight from people, places and things. It’s about being helpful.

As you might expect from a Microsoft presentation there’s the usual bash at keyboards being ancient (look to the Kinect as an alternative, especially with growing rumours on how it’ll be tightly bound with the xbox 3) and how smart phones aren’t actually smart. After all, Microsoft really are well placed to do well with some fundamental digital shifts, especially in the battle for the living room, and they’d be daft not to be thinking about what the future will look like.

It was possible to take a message from Coplin’s vision that marketers and brands need to think about “the human”. More than once Dave asked why a busy person, on the move, would want to interact with your brand and suggested that they certainly wouldn’t want to experience a mobile screen scrape of your site.

In privacy the message was the same; the value transaction of collecting user data must be made explicit. People need to understand what they’ll get in exchange for providing personal information.

I’m not sure brands have forgotten “the human”, though. I can’t imagine any marketing department with a plan that ignores customers or any marketer who is completely unaware that their customers are people.

I think what’s missing is the ability to connect with people or understand what real people actually want and are doing. That’s not so much a problem with brands but with analytics and insights suppliers - including Microsoft.

Data is everywhere but it’s disconnected and messy. There’s no easy way to discover that x% of people on your site are there just to DM a URL to their partner. That data could be surfaced, if Microsoft or Apple took sweeping measures, but there would be the expected privacy backlash.

It seems to me that “don’t forget the human” is an appropriate message but it’s not much more than a common sense steer for brands but a fundamental challenge for technology suppliers in the digital marketing world.

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