On the digital horizon: Tech thought leaders look to the next big thing

August 1, 2013

We asked eight PR professionals what they think about the current social media landscape and what excites them most about the digital future. Here’s what they had to say:

“One of the next big things in digital will be databases of shared data, research and knowledge. Google just introduced their Think Insights dashboard where you can browse research, data and case studies as well as create your own infographic with information, quotes and statistics. These shared resource platforms will continue to grow as the need for collaboration and analytics grows.

In tech, I’m excited about the rise of 3-D printed objects helping humans and animals (like hearing aids, heart transplant pieces or replacement duck feet). I also can’t wait to see more food/water/everything-resistant smartphones.”

— Lauren Gray, junior associate in digital, Finn Partners

“As a digital communications professional, my role has seen both challenges and opportunities in the hyper-connected era. In looking at the future of the digital era, I am excited most about the next generation of leaders that are building a data-driven framework to drive innovation and growth.

Data is a vast, new natural resource that will change the economic, political and societal landscape in fundamental ways.

The next phase of the digital environment will provide a consistent and seamless multichannel experience that fuses the external company brand with the internal corporate culture to create a consistent customer experience.”

Brandi Boatner, digital experience manager, IBM

“Big Data, analytics and social media measurement will continue to pave the way for the future of digital and technology.

The PR pros of the future will need to have ‘smarter’ skill sets and more effective tools to connect with the media, share a compelling point of view and measure the effectiveness of PR campaigns.

In addition, you will continue to see new types of content measured as another big trend in the industry. The typical practice of church and state is blurring. Now, it’s important to work with content aggregators to tell your story in new ways.”

— Stephen Loudermilk, director, media and industry analyst relations, LexisNexis Risk Solutions

“As a consumer and a marketer, I am excited by the proliferation of apps that empower people to be more creative and social with content. With more mobile devices than computers, people and brands are empowered to create, consume, publish, interact and transact anytime, anywhere.

Beyond owned, earned and paid, I think there’s tremendous opportunity in shared media — content that is co-created with consumers and brands to elevate engagement and experiences.”

Lee Odden, CEO, TopRankMarketing.com

“The buzzword across all industries is Big Data.

For PR and marketing professionals, digital communications channels are a big source of this data, as consumers and companies share more personal information and preferences online and via mobile apps. Access to reports generated by big data analysis can uncover brand perceptions, buying behaviors and product trends.

This level of insight supports personalized communications campaigns that drive action. For example, social media sentiment data tied to product sales could indicate the best days to push online promotions. Or, personalized QR codes can lead customers to information based on past purchase history.”

— Amy Fisher, APR, director, technology practice, Padilla Speer Beardsley

“I think that portability will continue to get better, making it easier to do anything anywhere.

Phones in our pockets are great, but the idea of having a computer within my glasses or on my wrist is exciting.

The combination of these technologies with social media will make the idea of shared experiences easier and better for everyone — both for the users and for the brands that are trying to be part of our everyday lives. As a communicator, this excites me.”

— Sheldon Levine, community manager, Marketwired

“What excites me most on the digital horizon is that corporate technologists (CIOs) now recognize the CMO and her/his team are about to become the largest IT spender in the enterprise. I am confident they are going to find beneficial ways to work together to drive business value through blending technology and communications.

Automation systems are delivering amazing results for marketing teams and savvy PR professionals are finding creative ways to leverage this.

Responsive website technology is ensuring the browsing experience is flawless, regardless of the device. Content marketing tools that help curate and track content as it’s consumed are starting to gain traction. Content syndication platforms are also starting to hit the ‘awkward teenage’ phase, which means prime time is just around the corner.

Big Data holds real promise, but it could suck time and resources from organizations that are not likely to be able to truly leverage Big Data.”

 — Mike Neumeier, APR, principal, Arketi Group

“I am really excited about wearable technology (WT). A product that we use during all of our waking hours as a natural part of living our lives and participating in our communities provides an unparalleled new source of storytelling and relationship possibilities between brands and customers.

While we still need to figure out the rules and norms of our interactions with WTs, I am optimistic about the future.

If you consider that we are essentially already ‘wearing’ our smartphones, then the leap to WTs like cameras, jewelry and clothing isn’t such a big one!”

Elizabeth Albrycht, lecturer, Institut Supérieur de Communications, Paris School of Business

Managing Editor Amy Jacques compiled the responses from these eight thought leaders.


Amy Jacques

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.


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