Aug 26 | 3 minutes read

How an each-way bet is more profitable than trying to predict the winner

I’ll happily admit it to anyone (and even via the medium of this blog) that I’m a tech junkie.  If it’s new and innovative I’m on it, using it, testing it.  Thing is, I’m not alone; a quick poll of my friends tells me that I’m just one of the gang when it comes to how much new technology I adopt.  Let me extrapolate this further and ask how many old generation iPods or smartphones (particularly Blackberry!) you have nestling in the draw of your kitchen where you throw your junk?  Likely it’s quite a few. 
The reason for those devices gathering dust in that drawer you really should clean out sometime soon is that technology is evolving at an incredible rate and it’s doing so because of an insatiable consumer demand for new things to try.  My generation is quite simply addicted to our technology and the desire to have ‘the latest thing’.  And if you think we’re bad, hang around a bunch of 14 year olds for an hour or so and appreciate just how much technology is engrained in the very way they exist! Quite simply they see technology as an extension of themselves. 
So what, I hear you ask?  Well, the reality is that, as we all know, all this technology usage is creating huge amounts of data.  Data that people like me, in the job that I do, obsess about mining to help our clients understand how to serve their customer needs better from a marketing perspective.  But everywhere I go, I hear similar complaints from marketing colleagues in organizations large and small; ‘I’m overwhelmed with data!’ and ‘I’m not sure whether I will get ROI from my marketing technology suite’  ‘If I invest in this expensive software product, how soon before it becomes outdated?’  Or, worse still, ‘I struggle to get true insight’. 
Well guess what?  It ain’t about to get any easier given the pace of technological change!  
Sometimes we have to look back to determine the way forward and I love an article from March 2007 in the NY Times that talks about the rise of mobile marketing as cellphones became more connected to the web.  There is one great line in the article in particular: “mobile marketing could be a big thing simply because the potential audience size is enormous.”
Now we can look at that statement and wryly smile to ourselves; the benefit of having lived the last 7 years is that we know mobile is now first, second and third when it comes to connecting with consumers.  And, with the Internet of Things, the volume of possible data points is only going to get wider and deeper.  According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020.
These are, of course, predictions – informed guesses – but back in 2007, we could only guess at the potential of mobile, as the NY Times article so obviously demonstrates.  And here’s my point; technology developments map to the speed of consumer behaviour, and both are too fluid and dynamic for any one technology suite to offer a definitive data insight solution. 
The pace of consumer behaviour is always going to change as rapidly as the pace of technology changes, so don’t tie yourself down to one way of handling that change.  Do so and you could find yourself irrelevant very quickly.  And that’s not a great place to be in today’s ever changing world.
This post was written by Andy Walker.