Robots! The Apocalypse Is Inevitable, But Relax, It’s Not Another Death Knell
Whatever example comes to mind when you think about robots – Rosie the Robot, C-3PO, the hosts in Westworld – the reality is we are a lot closer to a world with these companions than one might have previously predicted.
Driven by intelligent automation, machine learning and cognitive computing capability, robots combine the speed and knowledge of a computer with the familiar ease of human interaction, promising to cut through the clutter and relieve consumers from the paradox of choice.
From Facebook bots to Amazon Echo’s Alexa, robots in all forms are creating sweeping change to human behaviour, especially when it comes to alleviating the internet’s burden of too much information, too many choices and far too much stimulation. Take domestic robots designed to directly serve human needs in the home, workplace and other facets of our daily lives: x.ai’s Amy Ingram to schedule our meetings, iRobot’s Roomba to clean our floors, Vespa’s Gita to deliver our groceries. Each allowing us, hopefully, to get on with more important things.
Modern-day robots are evolving so fast and are reflected in such a diverse array of form factors that the average consumer still might not recognise them as such. As the technology continues to make its way into consumer’s lives, it is changing everything marketers have come to know about the purchase journey and, therefore, how we effectively plan and distribute media.
We are already witnessing a streamlining in the way consumers use Search via intelligent applications that curate results based on unique individual data. Users no longer search for websites, but rather for services, real-time local data, entertainment content and a host of other general information aligned to their needs and interest.
Robots are also transforming eCommerce as we know it. In a world where literally anything – from product packaging to a billboard – can have an IP address, robots unlock the potential for transactions to happen almost anywhere, anytime. Whereas before a consumer might have compared products across several websites and clicked through multiple steps in an online checkout process, now one might simply ask Alexa or Google Home for the top-rated product based on past preferences, at the best price, and confirm the purchase with a simple voice command.
This new discovery landscape necessitates near-term tactical changes to .com infrastructure, and marketers are only beginning to embrace the idea that content discovery is happening outside of the traditional search-query-to-website paradigm. Digital ads, videos, outdoor signage and even in-store kiosks and animatronic interfaces will quickly become information-gathering tools to serve users products and services specifically aligned to their needs and interests.
In this predicted evolution of search, content strategy needs to evolve fast: production will need to be nimbler, the content produced more bespoke and the potential distribution outlets much more diverse. And as the voice interface continues to expand to environments like the connected car and home, the impetus is on marketers to make existing content as accessible as possible to AI platforms.
Parking personal daydreams of Netflix binging while my family of robots clean the house, feed my infant, pick up groceries, walk the dog and entertain everyone else who requires my attention (#adulting is a struggle), it’s imperative we begin to think about what this new technology means for creating frictionless and personalized experiences between brand and consumer.
Go ahead and laugh off robots as designed for cheesy ‘80s movie plots, but when Number 5 knocks on your door (hello, Short Circuit!), it will be too late to design a marketing strategy for these new dominant platforms.
No John or Sarah Connor will save your unprepared brand from the proverbial Terminator coming to disrupt your business.
The robot apocalypse is inevitable.
Whitney Fishman Zember is Managing Partner, Innovation & Consumer Technology at MEC