2023 looks set to mark a new era for the tech sector as emerging technologies redefine the way people access and share information.
For communications and marketing professionals, it’s time to sit up and pay attention. Here are three trends likely to impact the communications business in 2023.
1. The party’s over – but could this mark a new era for innovation?
It’s no secret tech firms have been hammered in the stock market in recent months. Silicon Valley behemoth, Meta, shed more than half of its market value in the past year alone. Brands2Life’s Andre Labadie said it best at a recent tech trends event – “the party’s over for big tech.” Whether it’s Netflix cracking down on password sharing or mass layoffs at Google – all the evidence suggests we’re entering a new, leaner era for big tech.
You could argue it was overdue. The sector has been flooded with cash for more than a decade but the pace of innovation has been lacklustre. Think back to 2007. That was the year Apple introduced the iPhone; Facebook and Twitter went global; Airbnb was founded; and Amazon released the Kindle. By comparison, can you name a truly groundbreaking tech product released in the past year, or even three years?
Cash can be a hindrance to creativity and the tech sector has had too much for too long. Venture capitalist Mark Suster nailed this point when he said:
“A company with too much cash on hand is like an individual with no ambition: it will eventually become stagnant and lose its edge.”
In the near-term, tech firms are laying off staff and scaling back operations. That’s likely to mean less investment in communications and marketing services, at least for now. But in the medium to long-term, 2023 could be the start of a new, leaner era for tech that refocuses the pursuit of creativity and innovation.
2. Artificial intelligence as a communications asset in 2023
The recent explosion of AI systems including ChatGPT have swept away any doubts over whether artificial intelligence will have a meaningful impact on the communications business. ChatGPT carries out communications tasks with frightening ease. Content analysis, copywriting, social media post generation, and creative brainstorms all fall comfortably within its capabilities.
Critics rightly point out limitations, for example ChatGPT can’t access data published after 2021 and its outputs on geopolitical issues relating to Russia and Ukraine are questionable. But the reality is the exponential growth of these tools mean it’s only a matter of time before they become devastatingly effective. How far are we from the majority of communications professionals keeping at least one AI tab open all day to inform, complement, and refine content production? The future never seemed so close.
I was fortunate to host a trends event last week, where Digital media consultant Paul Sutton gave a brilliant presentation on the impact of AI. Paul argued that communications professionals need to start interacting with AI tools now. He argued persuasively that the success of communications professionals in future could be determined by their ability to prompt these tools. In short, if you haven’t played around with these systems, start now.
3. Widespread adoption of VR ‘only a matter of time’
People are prone to dismissing breakthrough technologies as impractical and unnecessary. The internet, smartphones, and electric cars were all once dismissed as fads.
Truth be told, there’s an inherent comfort that comes with dismissing emerging tech. There’s assurance and safety in the status quo. But when the principal proponents of the technology are Meta / Facebook, as is the case for virtual reality, the temptation to overlook innovation becomes even greater.
Meta has bet big on virtual reality. Reports suggest it will invest around $20bn in the Metaverse in 2023. But Meta isn’t loved. In fact, it’s reviled by many as one of the most unethical businesses of all time. People don’t like the idea of Mark Zuckerberg succeeding. So, for many, it becomes even more tempting to dismiss VR headsets such as the Meta Quest 2 as overpriced and unnecessary. But could emotion – specifically disdain for Facebook – be clouding consumer judgment?
Bloomberg Technology Columnist, Parmy Olsun warned an audience at a recent tech trends event that:
“Tech leaders remain utterly convinced that widespread adoption of VR technology is only a matter of time,”
This was backed up by her understanding that Apple are set to release details of a new $3,000+ mixed reality headset in the spring. The evidence suggests it’s time for communications professionals to sit up and start taking virtual and mixed reality seriously.
Big changes are afoot in the tech sector. In the case of AI and VR, technologies that have held promise for so long appear closer than ever to delivering revolutionary changes to the way people access and share information. The eventual impact on communications can’t be overemphasised. The future never seemed so close.
Director of Communications and Marketing at PRCA