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MIT Predicts The 10 Breakthrough Technologies For 2018

breakthrough-technologies

When you talk about the future of technology, you have two different approaches. The first one is to look into the distance the way Sci-Fi writers do, working with the imagination to push the boundaries of what the human mind can create.

The second approach is to aim at a closer target, looking at what is already going on. This is exactly what the MIT does with its annual prediction of the 10 breakthrough technologies that will lead the evolution of business and society, starting from today.

The list has been published in the recent March/April release of the MIT Technology Review magazine, the reference point for everyone interested in knowing what’s coming next. This top 10 includes the technologies believed to make the most impact over the next 12 months.

"This is our attempt to alert our readers: These are the technologies that you really need to or should pay attention to next year, and also going into the next few years," MIT Tech Review's editor David Rotman told Business Insider.

What does it mean ‘breakthrough’? Scrolling through the previous 17 editions of the list, you can find a few key benchmarks for defining this term: mass commercial use, foreseeable mass commercial adoption and, most of all, the profound impact on our lives.

With the words of Gideon Lichfield, editor in chief of MIT Technology Review, “our annual list of 10 world-changing technologies invariably defies attempts to find an overarching theme. But a look back at the past few years shows a trend: we’re including more and more advances in artificial intelligence”.

There is no doubt that the AI will play - and is already playing - a huge role in the development of many aspects of our lives: the way we communicate and build relationships; how we work and find jobs; the strategy of businesses and organizations; how we take care of our health; the way Brands personalize the customer experience to appeal people's uniqueness.

3D METAL PRINTING

While 3D printing has been around for a while now, printing objects in other materials than plastic has been quite a dream (an expensive one). Now we are moving towards the ability to create large, intricate metal structures on demand; something that could revolutionize manufacturing, a new era for the 4.0 Enterprise.

ARTIFICIAL EMBRYOS

With the embryos, we face a topic hotly debated for its ethical and philosophical problems. And yet the research is moving faster than legislation and political debate. For the first time, researchers have made embryo-like structures from stem cells alone, without using egg or sperm cells, thus providing a new understanding of how life comes into existence.

SENSING CITY

For years we have heard about the smart city, but it is now time for an even smarter smart city. In Toronto, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs are already implementing sensors and analytics in order to rethink how we build and live cities. Sensing cities could make urban areas more affordable and citizen’s friendly.

AI FOR EVERYBODY

Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing in technology; there is no doubt about that. The only brake to its full application has always been the high costs of development. But now cloud-based AI is making the technology cheaper and easier to use, opening the market to many more companies.

DUELLING NEURAL NETWORKS

Right now the Artificial Intelligence can learn and identify things based on the processed data, but what if it could also have an ‘imagination’? Companies such as Google Brain, DeepMind and Nvidia are now matching two AI systems that can help each other to create original images, and generate something akin to a sense of imagination.

BABEL FISH EARBUDS

Google's omnipresence in this list shows that the company is not ‘just’ a search engine anymore. The Pixel Buds show the promise of near-real-time translation. The technology is still young and clunky, but it could help overcome the barrier of communication in an increasingly global world (in the wake of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

ZERO-CARBON NATURAL GAS

The brand new smart city requires a different approach to energy supply and distribution. The answer could be in a new approach to natural-gas plants, made to efficiently and cheaply capture carbon released by burning natural gas, thus avoiding greenhouse emissions.

PERFECT ONLINE PRIVACY

The most urgent issue of the digital era is the use (and abuse) of personal information. As shown by the Cambridge Analytica affair and the GDPR legislation, the road to the perfect online privacy is still long, but blockchain could help to make it faster. Computer scientists, in fact, are perfecting a cryptographic tool to carry out transactions without revealing any more information than necessary.

GENETIC FORTUNE-TELLING

Our destiny is written in our genes. This is science, not science fiction. The study of the genome can help scientists understand and predict diseases and human traits. DNA-based predictions could be the next significant public health advance, but will also pose an ethical problem. Will the next evolution of discrimination be based on genetics?

MATERIALS’ QUANTUM LEAP

What is the next step in the evolution of computing? Quantum computing seems to be the correct answer, as recently shown by the use of a quantum computer to model the electronic structure of a simple molecule. Understanding molecules will allow chemists to design more effective drugs and better materials, but the prospect of a new wave powerful computers comes with a question: What should (and could) we do with so much power?

Photo by Billy Huynh on Unsplash

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Topics: digital transformation Machine Learning Artificial Intelligence Google

Must-Know SEO Tricks To Improve Your Digital Presence [INFOGRAPHIC]

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SEO is dead, long live the SEO. Every now and then, the critics of search engine optimization scream their apocalyptic manifesto for a SEO-less world. You don't need optimization anymore, they say, because the engines evolve so quickly that everything you do is immediately obsolete. 

Yes, the evolution of technology every year brings developments to the industry, but does this mean that you don't need to optimize anymore? The answer is clearly 'No'. You still need SEO; it's just not the SEO you were used to, as shown in the following infographic. 

To quote the words of Neil Patel, New York Times best selling author and co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics:

"The Internet has gone through several iterations over the past 30 years, and while SEO tactics have certainly changed, as long as search engines exist, ranking in them will be important.

New technology may change the way we interact and explore the Internet, but search engines will always be a factor, and optimizing your information for these constantly evolving algorithms will never go out of style.

You probably know where I’m going with this article.

SEO is not dead."

New times require new means, and the new digital and mobile ecosystem requires a whole new approach to SEO. You always have to appeal two different targets - the user and the engine - but both have been deeply disrupted by that tiny (so to say) device called smartphone.

You face a new generation of customers - always connected and willing to receive information in real-time, whenever they are - and a new generation of AI-driven algorithms - they learn from their interactions with the user, and can also process real speech patterns. 

Google gets over 100 billion searches a month and handles at least 2 trillion searches per year. 89 percent of customers start the buying process using a search engine. Customer experience management can not do without SEO, and if you think that being there at the right time is not relevant for your Brand, well, think again. 

The metrics don't lie: The digital presence is more crucial than ever. And that means that you need to employ all those SEO tricks that will help you improve your strategy in the online and offline worlds.

If you need further proof, check the recent research from Milkwhale, first published on Entrepreneur, in the form of an enlightening, long-sighted infographic (click on the picture to enlarge).

55-seo-tricks-small-business-websites-infographic

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash

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Topics: Google digital transformation Digital Customer Experience

Google AMP - The Future Of Mobile Marketing: What You Need To Know

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What is Google AMP Project? Mobile devices have changed the way we access information. As a consequence, they have disrupted the news and communication industry, promoting new tools to create and share contents.

The problem is: While publishers now use the mobile web to reach readers, the customer experience is often discouraging, and leaves a lot to be desired. As usual, people and technology evolve at a quicker pace than companies. Let’s get back to the question, then: Is Google AMP the next revolution for mobile marketing?

When you search for something on Google using your smartphone, you may stumble upon some boxed articles at the top of the result page. They come with a mysterious acronym, AMP. It stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, and it aims to become the new standard for the mobile web.

Almost one year ago (October 7, 2015) on the pages of Google’s official blog was published and article titled “Introducing the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, for a faster, open mobile web.” A few hours later, digital marketers already had shivers of terror down their back.

They were just recovering from the smash caused by the mobile-friendly algorithm, and they feared another SEO revolution. A small step for Google, a huge workload for brands. Despite everything, however, the AMP Project has gone on the backburner, and marketers’ attention has been drawn by other priorities (i.e. Pokemon Go).

But it was only a matter of time before AMPs would come back as an urgent topic. And here we are, one year later, witnesses of the official launch of the project. The assumption is that customers do not have time to waste. In a world of overabundant information, they want to find the right content at the right time.

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Speed is all that matters in the mobile era. This is true for users, and even more true for publishers:

"Every time a web page takes too long to load, they lose a reader - and the opportunity to earn revenue through advertising or subscriptions. That's because advertisers on these websites have a hard time getting consumers to pay attention to their ads when the pages load so slowly that people abandon them entirely."

The big Internet players know that time is money, and they are competing on developing a technology that will allow users to load contents instantly. Facebook Instant Articles is yet another example, a cornerstone of Mark Zuckerberg’s project to create a self-sufficient ecosystem for its customers.

The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project is an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere. The project relies on AMP HTML, a new open framework which allows websites to build lightweight pages:

"We want web pages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously. We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant - no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you’re using."

Like any significant new technology, accelerate mobile pages are still surrounded by a halo of doubts. How do they work? How will Google rank them in the result pages? Should companies jump on the bandwagon?

Here are the most common concerns, and everything you need to know to face this challenge well prepared.

HOW WILL AMP IMPACT SEO

Let’s start with the obvious question. How are AMP and search engine optimization connected? Right now AMP is not directly a search engine ranking factor but it is evident that this technology will affect the rankings one way or another.

What we know now is that “AMPs are completely separate from a typical mobile site. The mobile and AMP versions will each be annotated separately as alternates." (Jim Robinson, founder and CEO of ClickSeed). The same content will have two different versions, then.

The fact is that speed is one of the most critical elements in how Google ranks the different pages. AMP focus on speed and ease of use, and it is likely that they will indirectly influence where Google places the two different versions in the results:

"If we had two articles that from a signaling perspective scored the same in all other characteristics but for speed, then yes, we will give an emphasis to the one with speed because that is what users find compelling." (Richard Gingras, senior director of news and social products at Google)

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WHAT TYPES OF BRAND SHOULD USE AMP?

Right now the AMP results focus on two different types of contents: news and e-commerce results. Informative contents are ideal for accelerated mobile pages, and it is not by chance that the sites currently using AMP are news-based publishers like Google News, Forbes, Time Inc., Buzzfeed.

If you are a publisher or simply have a company blog and you want to grow your audience, you should definitely think about implementing AMP as a part of your content marketing strategy.

There is also another type of brand that might find AMP useful, e-commerce websites. First in line we find eBay, one of the most recent adopters of the technology, with over 8 million AMP-based nodes in production. The idea of having a carousel of product at the top of the result page is tempting, isn’t it?

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF AMP?

It will take some time to fully understand the implications and the extent of this evolution. It will surely require time, budget and study to the companies that want to embrace the power of AMPs. Being a separated and unique platform, it is not something that you just improvise and decide to do from one day to another.

The pros are many. The most evident is the potential increase in mobile traffic, given that AMP is another door to convey visitors to the official site. Other benefits could be the decrease in bounce rates, due to a higher load speed; an increase in conversions, thanks to a better digital customer experience; and the eternal Google’s goodwill that might have good effects on the digital presence as a whole.

What about the cons? First, AMPs are only served on mobile devices. If your mobile presence is not the core of your strategy, you will not see miraculous results. Second, it takes work and resources to implement the technology, and that translates into investments. Stay prepared to involve the IT crowd, because AMP means code.

Third, not all kinds of contents work with AMP (for instance, you might have problems with images, presentations, video, pop-ups and subscription forms). Last but not least, AMPs have weak analytics insights right now, and even advertising is all but simple (even though Doubleclick by Google has just announced AMP for Ads). If you plan to play with this technology and get actual results, then, prepare to sweat.

IS AMP THE FUTURE OF MOBILE MARKETING?

Given everything we have said, is AMP technology the real deal for the future of mobile marketing? The truth is, we do not know. Behind this new approach to mobile contents, we find Google, and that is usually synonymous with revolution. But we know that not every single revolution is successful, as stated by all those projects that the Big G has canceled or downgraded in the recent years.

The accelerated mobile pages have the potential to disrupt the web, but it has to face fierce competition, with Facebook (with Instant Articles) and Apple (with Apple News) already involved in the mobile battlefield. Who will win the speed race to the new standard?

If you want to know more or get started with AMP, check the official page of the project.

 

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Topics: Mobile Google Content Marketing Digital Customer Experience Innovation