The Times They Are A Changin’ — Again


Bob Dylan, 1971, New York City.

Every year, the analysts and pundits make predictions about consumer buying patterns, technology, and a host of other factors that will affect the way we market and sell products and services.

Every time I read one of them, I hear Bob Dylan playing the soundtrack of my life, The Times, They Are A Changin’.  Last year, that soundtrack sounded especially appropriate as I read the annual Gartner Predicts report. 

Among the dozen or so “Top Predictions”, I took note of these five Gartner predictions that are sure to change things for me — and anyone else who works in marketing.

  1. By 2012, Facebook will become the hub for social networks integration and Web socialization.
  2. Congress will pass Internet marketing legislation by 2015, to regulate more than $250 billion in Internet marketing spending worldwide.
  3. By 2014, more than three billion of the world’s adult population will be able to transact electronically via mobile and Internet technology.
  4. By 2015, context will be as influential to mobile consumer services and relationships as search engines are to the Web.
  5. By 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide.

Will they all come true? Some of them already have. For instance, that last one – that mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access devices worldwide – if not true globally, is certainly true among many demographic groups and in some locales. In Japan, smartphones surpassed PCs for web access in October, 2010, and among U.S. consumers under 30, they surpassed PCs barely a month later.

I think that the “big three” of social networking (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) are already at the hub of a new kind of social network integration and Web socialization – and judging from the number of friend requests I’m getting, it isn’t slowing down at all.

That leaves the predictions in the middle. They haven’t come true yet – but each of them is both plausible and predictable. But what does it all mean?

If taken together, these predictions seem to me to mean that those of us who make our living in marketing and technology had better quit holding on to legacy code and old ways of doing things, and start paying VERY close attention to shifts in how our customers consume information.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve had to adjust my way of thinking in my career – but I think that it may mark the most profound shift in marketing communications since the early days of email.  What do you think?  Is the continuing dominance of the smart phone going to redefine marketing?

About debmcalister

I'm a Dallas-based marketing consultant and writer, who specializes in helping start-up technology companies grow. I write (books, articles, and blogs) about marketing, technology, and social media. This blog is about all of those -- and the funny ways in which they interesect with everyday life. It's also the place where I publish general articles on topics that interest me -- including commentary about the acting and film communities, since I have both a son and grandson who are performers.
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2 Responses to The Times They Are A Changin’ — Again

  1. Fred says:

    I was reading in the WSJ that cell phones are the tools of business and agriculture, and smart phones will follow along quickly as the primary internet and client/supplier contact tool of commerce in the BRIC nations. Nice sumary. Thank you.

    • debmcalister says:

      Yes, Brazil, India, Russia, and China are among the leading places where smartphone access to the Web is equal to or ahead of PC or laptop access. But for businesses here in the U.S., perhaps the more important note about mobile marketing is that younger consumers — the first generation of heavy cell phone users, who are now ages 25-40 and the digital natives, ages 16-25, connect to the web almost equally from their mobile devices and their PCs. And, of course, the sheer amount of time that the younger users (under 21) spend on their mobile phones makes it the primary vehicle for reaching those consumers with any marketing message.

      Thanks for pointing me towards the WSJ article!

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