In October of ’01 Bill Gates spoke about the coming “Digital Decade” and how “more people and businesses would realize their potential” via the cultural and technical transformations underway.
Josh Bernoff of Forrester now agrees Gates was right. He cites broadband penetration (80% of US households now have broadband), and impressive stats on the widespread adoption of mobile phones and mobile music players to give us an idea of digital’s reach.
Bernoff also wants to make meaning of the trends toward devices and fast moving data.
As I look back on all this from the perspective of media and marketing, it’s clear that consumer lead, media stumbles along behind, and marketers follow along behind.
What you can learn from this decade is that consumers move quickly, models move slowly, and marketing moves conservatively. When you see a technology shifting, that’s the time to begin close observation of the models behind it. It will take years for those models to take hold, and in those years, you get the chance to learn. That’s when you need to experiment and figure out how things work, because that’s when it’s cheap and the competition is hanging back. The objective is not to make money right off, but to learn the ropes. Because when the transformation happens — and it will — then you will have the advantage of knowledge.
The twenty-oh’s were the digital decade for consumers. The twenty-teens will be the digital decade for marketers. Time to get cracking.
I don’t know about the teens being the “digital decade for marketers” but I do believe marketers and their agency partners will largely clue in and start to play by the Web’s rules. Rules like the Web must be fed!
Meanwhile, there are still people who want nothing to do with digital. People who don’t have broadband, nor an email account, and they’re perfectly fine with that.