In a short span of four years, American business will face a changed world in which consumers will use iPads and other mobile devices to enable two-thirds of all their purchases, demand two-way interaction with sellers and use real-time search to find the items they need, a Google executive told the AIM Executive Forum this morning.
Seth van der Swaagh, a National Industry Manager in Google’s Cambridge office, told more than 220 business leaders that the new electronic world will require successful companies to master the “four be’s”: - be relevant, be found, be engaging and be accountable to consumers who will have at their disposal an amount of information that will increase 50 times by 2020.
“So how, in this accelerated world, do you keep up? It’s not enough just to know the basics. Google believes that businesses need to get ahead of the trends get ahead of the consumer,” van der Swaagh said.
The digital revolution, according to van der Swaagh, means that all elements of business and life move faster than ever before - information is created faster, news travels faster, consumer trends change faster, and business is conducted faster. He said that the world now creates the same amount of information in two days as it did from the beginning of time until 2003.
The explosive growth of technology and information is everywhere:
- The number of people on social networks has grown from 300 million people in 2008 to one billion today;
- Twitter visitors have gone from 1.25 million in 2008 to 190 million;
- More than 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute; YouTube serves 2 billion videos daily;
- Android mobile devices did not exist in 2008; Google now ships 350,000 Android devices per day.
- The number of mobile subscribers will double worldwide from 5 billion at the end of 2010 to 10 billion in 2020.
“But the biggest driver of all? The consumer. Unlike other eras that were driven by science, or industry, our era is driven by people, consumers,” van der Swaagh said.
“Science fiction is already fact - we have computers in our pockets. The consumer has been first to figure out how this can benefit them: their behavior is evolving at breakneck speed/scale.”
Van der Swaagh said the digital revolution will put increasing pressure on companies to be engaging and interesting in a society saturated with information. He noted that 94 of the top 100 advertisers listed by Advertising Age have YouTube campaigns and that well-known Massachusetts employers such as Reebok, Biogen Idec and Philips Electronics have been leaders in online video communication.
Editor’s note: Seth van der Swaagh is a National Industry Manager for Google. Join us for the AIM Executive Forum March 11 as Seth speaks about the ways companies will survive and prosper in a digital world changing at breakneck speed.
All around us, things are accelerating. People, data and information are moving faster than ever before, accelerating at a pace that defies our understanding of the world and what is (or was thought to be) possible.
4G speeds, Google Instant, Tweets and check-ins, Facebook sign-ups, mobile device activations, video uploads – everything around us is growing and moving at exponential rates. Consider some of the statistics. In 2008, 300 million people were on social networks. That number is now more than 900 million. In 2008, 1.5 million people had visited Twitter. Last year more than 190 million. In 2008 Google’s Android mobile platform had just launched. There are now more than 300,000 Android device activations every day, and that number is growing. (Check out a really fun video showing the growth of Android here).
And consider what has been happening in Middle Eastern countries. Via mobile phones and social networks, information is spreading and people are organizing at rates never before possible, allowing for rapid mobilization of ideas and massive social change.
In this world of constant connectivity, there is no doubt that fast is better than slow. From a consumer standpoint, you reap the benefits directly – connect to friends all over the world on Facebook, video chat with them on Skype, watch videos of the Grammy awards on YouTube, download Eminem’s latest to your iPod, search on Google for the shoes he wore, buy them on online…wait, sold out online?…check your local retailer’s inventory on Google Product Search, have your Android phone give you directions to your local mall, text your friends that you’ll meet them there, check in on Foursquare when you arrive… and on and on it goes, the flow of digital information accelerating at a rate that seems almost unimaginable.
So how do businesses keep up and take part in this digital evolution, nay, revolution? How do companies make use of this acceleration to reach consumers in meaningful ways? How do they change their own behaviors to keep up with the world around them?
Companies should look to get ahead of the consumer and these digital trends by focusing on 4 key characteristics: Google calls them the "4 Be’s"…
- Be relevant – mobile is how the world will connect to the Internet in the future. Mobile will be bigger than desktop in 5 years. Mobile searches grew 500 percent in the last two years. Mobile is what is relevant for today's and tomorrow's consumer. What is your company’s mobile strategy? Do you have one? Can it scale for the future?
- Be found – Search is still the web’s killer app. With the proliferation of information, Search is how people find it and make use of it. Can people find you? Can they find your business and the products or services you offer?
- Be engaging – We no longer live in a push advertising world. Consumers want and expect a dialog with companies. Social media like Facebook and Twitter make this possible. Online video has not only changed the face of entertainment but also the way companies can communicate. Companies and brands need to figure out how to be part of the conversation and how to effectively engage users across the entire spectrum of social media. What is your social media strategy? How are you effectively using online video to engage users?
- Be accountable – the Internet has made real-time marketing a reality. You can constantly and continuously improve your digital efforts by using powerful analytical tools and the data they provide to make smart decisions. Things like Google Analytics, Insights for Search and others offer more data than ever before. How are you using it to make the best decisions for your company?
Success or failure in these four areas will determine your future. As “screen time” becomes mostly digital, as mobile becomes the norm for the masses, as consumers take more control of the dialog with companies and brands, and as everything becomes more real-time, businesses will need to evolve to keep pace…or run the risk of getting left behind.
Register for Seth's AIM Executive Forum speech here.