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Down The Tech Rabbit Hole

With AI making seamless communication possible, it is the absence (not the presence) of tech that will be the future

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When you download an application on your phone, your portable device interacts and ‘reads’ the app to be able to execute reams of code that carry out a certain functionality. The app is written in a language the phone understands. This seamless interaction is enabled by tonnes of coders who build apps and software language for phones. If the cloud has abundant information, and if your brain can process complex language, (which is still being fed into machines) can your brain directly interact with the cloud given a set of rules that can potentially eliminate the need for having a physical device?

If that sounds familiar, it is not because I conjured the thought. Computer scientists and futurist Ray Kurzweil came up with the idea of how nanobots will connect your neocortex to the cloud and will open up an entirely new era of communication. No more ‘Ok, Google’s’ and ‘Hey, Siris’ to get information. That information will be embedded into your body — something like how the movie Matrix works; where Keanu Reeves learns karate after it was ‘downloaded’ into his brain. It is interesting and doesn’t seem impossible even if it is far-fetched, but it got me thinking what the next 10 years will be like for mobile. And again, no one can get this right, and I am merely painting a picture in my head.

The biggest disrupter in the immediate future will be wearables. And no, not the kind you wear on your wrist. I am more fascinated with computing software that can be plugged into your ear, have voice responses enabled and can perform a fair set of complex tasks that include phone calls, listening to audio, ordering food, hailing a cab, and something as simple as listening to music or a podcast. The next 10 years in tech will be about disrupting mobile. Anything that requires the need for an additional touch, or hand movement has adequate scope for disruption. In that regard, ‘earpods’ that pack tremendous computing power hold considerable ground to make a case for mobile disruption.

Mobile will be all about games, movies and visual content. If you want to message someone, you merely have to ‘talk’ to your earpod. If you want a cab, you merely have to summon one and the location sensor will intimate a cab (a driverless one by then perhaps?). But if the next 10 years is going to be about disrupting mobile, we will need artificial intelligence and the full potential of machine learning to be able to develop seamless software to users. It can’t be riddled with technology; instead, its absence will make this possibility a reality. But where does this leave mobile ad guys like me who earn their bread and butter with a 5-inch screen? If we don’t get necessary eyeballs on the screen, where does advertising hold play?

Can we build out contextual ads for virtual reality (VR) devices? Can we make advertising more conversational? Can we ride on chatbots to make advertising meaningful for consumers? All valid questions and the core of it all boils down to the fact that customer relationship management on mobile is non-existential. And if a device as personal as a mobile doesn’t have quality CRM, then we have to go back to the drawing board and innovate for the next decade. True, there are limitations with the medium, but ‘search’ and ‘discovery’ on mobile is broken and that is the perennial problem in mobile.

The early signs of this idea were shrouded around the idea of building on ‘conversational commerce’. If technology deems that we have a shorter attention span from the user, our tech needs to be laser focused. We should be able to make advertising more relatable and that starts with understanding behavioural traits as well. Essentially, we are moving from storytelling to story building. The onus is on advertisers to build a narrative for a product, thus enabling discovery. I don’t know what this means for us, and how we are going to get there, but the trends are unmistakable.

But for now, moving visuals are going to be the most receptive technique to connect with our audience. According to a Cisco study, by 2020, over 75 per cent of global mobile data traffic will be video content. A large segment of the population is more receptive towards video than to any other formats. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Moving pictures will continue to fascinate people no matter what, though the device or the method in which they view it is transient. And that means mobile phones are evolving and adding to their arsenal — maybe even stitch the full potential for VR. For an ad guy, that is temporary solace, but for a tech guy, you are always praying that a startup is not going to disrupt you. In the meantime, we are going to rack our brains, hire the best and not leave everything to luck.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Naveen Tewari

The author is co-founder, InMobi

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