January 31, 2017
Predicting the future of the digital landscape is a bit like tracking a butterfly. Within the erratic flight is some sense of direction…at least until a rogue byte of technology bursts through and changes its course. (*cough* Smartphone. *cough*)
In 2009, for example, some internet futurists had the web page obsolete by 2014. At this writing, seems the web page is alive and well, thank you. But, in all fairness to those web page doomsdayers, there is a consensus that the days of the traditional web page (or website, perhaps) may be numbered. And the drivers of that notion are two trends that will not be denied: data and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Understand, the internet is safe (from extinction, anyway). It’s the traditional website—and its function as a gatekeeper to the internet—that seems poised for profound change.
Data is changing the game.
Of course, the infrastructure that supports today’s data-driven society is the internet. Data use on the internet will continue to grow at a staggering rate. By 2020, 40 billion IoT and consumer devices will draw some 2.3 zettabytes of data. (With all the zeros, that’s 2,300,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes of data. Capacity engineers may just be the next rock stars of the internet.) Many of those zeros will (and already do, of course) say a lot about you, the internet user. With such copious customer data ripe for picking, the floodgates will be open for a more proactive approach to marketing content and targeted customer engagement, which ultimately will redefine the way we think of and use web pages and the internet itself.
Serving an audience of one
Think of it this way: in five years (or maybe three or eight years—it’s a butterfly), publishers won’t need a website to assist in the retrieval of mass-appeal content as much as they will need an internet system to push highly dynamic and targeted content to an audience of just one person and make it accessible on any device with a digital pulse. For the user end, the experience becomes more about interactivity with a menu or dashboard of custom content via so-called “pageless,” “smart,” or “video-centric” sites or apps.
Channels are already changing.
Netflix fans accessing shows through internet TVs are already witnessing the leading edge of smart site design with personalized content pushed and delivered at log-in. A click of the Netflix app renders a landing experience that looks almost nothing like a traditional web page—more like a straight-up thumbnail menu of personalized content options. (“Greg, because you watched Portlandia…”)
With the advent of Amazon Echo, automated, hands-free, and virtually site-free web interactivity takes another step forward and then walks all around the house—bringing new meaning to the phrase mobile friendly. As the butterfly travels, a smartphone may soon look like small potatoes next to a smart home.
Data makes everybody a winner.
For web marketers, the motivation is obvious and exciting: super-serving customers with delivery of highly personalized and accessible content will prompt more engagement and conversions. For consumers, it’s all about creating digital experiences in whatever way they want on any number of everyday (IoT) devices. At an industrial level, data and IoT are poised to transform the way businesses operate as connected machinery helps to optimize production, reduce downtime, and improve customer service. GE estimates that such industrial connectivity could add some $10 trillion to $15 trillion to the global GDP.
I look at GLG’s colorful digital lab developed for our client T-Mobile and see an example of an IoT challenge that was met in an impressive fashion. Truly creative and forward-thinking development went into a next-gen content delivery solution that pushes dynamic promos to 35,000 digital displays and devices in more than 4,000 T-Mobile stores nationwide. No website required.
So, yes, the traditional web page appears to be on its way out the door, and savvy marketers, content-hungry users, and proliferating technology are banding together to show it the way.
The internet’s finest moment is about to begin.
Greg Oberst, Senior Writer
Subscribe to the Digest