What's now. What's next.

Moore’s Law and the circus of change.

by Nextness published April 16, 2012 posted in Insights

Moore's Law
Today’s guest post is by Ella Campbell (@ella__campbell), STW Group’s Digital Coordinator. It is based on her learnings from the Communications Council’s Circus Festival.

In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore noted that the number of devices on a microchip was doubling each year – and so was the potential power of a computer.

Now known as Moore’s Law, it’s as true today as it was nearly fifty years ago. It neatly correlates with the rate of technological innovation and resulting change in our society.

So how can agencies, brands and society keep up with the speed of Moore’s Law?

1. Agencies.

It’s increasingly difficult to navigate the the marketing and communications landscape. MDC’s Faris Yakob believes, “We’re getting too involved in the technology.” There’s a growing fascination with the next big thing, and understandably so. But our obsession with innovation often gets in the way of understanding the resulting culture.

This is compounded by what appears to be a new-found difficulty to ‘predict the future’. The present’s become so strange, it’s often hard to think ahead. The annual predictions lists are becoming less compelling. Less exciting. We’re so focused on catching up with the ‘now’ that it can be a struggle to think of what’s next. Essentially, we’re experiencing Moore’s Law in action.

The curve is steepening, and we believe it will mark the line between failure and success. While it is our job to understand technology, it’s becoming less of a selling point. We need to focus on its impact, look ahead of the curve, leverage the resulting behavior, and possibly influence it.

2. Brands.

How do brands survive in an age that’s increasingly digitised? Joe Crump, Razorfish, gave us his perspective on what’s been dubbed Digital Darwinism: when technology and society evolve faster than the ability to adapt.

In a world where new technology is as prevalent as computers are powerful, it is ever more complex to survive as a brand. With each innovation comes new behavior, and regardless of whether you’re an agency or a fashion retailer, the consumer is increasingly in control of your longevity.

While we agree that there is no simple answer to brand endurance, Crump gave us his list of essential survival skills. There were three in particular that stood out.

  • Be adaptive. A year from now, the world will probably be dramatically different. This means brands need to change. Only the most nimble will survive.
  • Be fresh. Stave off consumer boredom. There is always a new way to tell a story about your brand, and considering the current rate of change, the options are multiplying.
  • Be immersive. Increasingly, brands can use technology to create ‘experiences’ for their consumers. Entertain. Delight. Teach. It’s this value exchange that creates advocacy.

Crump’s view is not unlike that of many Australian agencies and groups, most of which are working toward establishing these values for themselves and their clients. It comes back to embracing change and innovation, and cultivating a culture that pushes the boundaries beyond where we are today.

Only then can a brand become fit enough to survive in a market where the ‘new’ is old tomorrow, and consumers play the cards.

3. Society.

What, as a society, is our collective attitude toward technological innovation and change?Yakob believes that, “Our brains are, in essence, anticipation machines.” We are hungry for the new. We want to touch it, play it, know it. We want to feel the high from owning it. But the next day we’ll wake up, and crave more innovation.

Tom Uglow, Google Labs, captured a very real picture of this behavior. “We’ve stopped being awed by the power of technology,” he said. “We expect it.” Society is riding Moore’s exponential escalator like it’s a drug. And increasingly, we expect it to integrate with our lives. We want seamlessness. But augmented reality isn’t seamless. Digital can be difficult. Screens aren’t natural, and natural is nice.

Uglow believes that future will be full of ‘nice’. And, that our increasing demand for this seamless integration means we’ll see technology become a part of who we are, without having to change.

Interestingly, Uglow’s theory is not dissimilar to Ray Kurzweil’s belief that society will soon reach the technological singularity. Influenced by Moore’s increasingly powerful computer processors, Kurzweil writes that society will hit a point where technology will integrate with our bodies and minds. We can only assume that we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the resulting change in our society.

So, how can we keep up with the speed of Moore’s law?

Perhaps it’s staying in touch with technology. Focusing on consumer behavior. Building a culture of change. Delivering beyond expectations. Innovating in line with customer needs. Pushing the boundaries. Embracing the new.

In short, it won’t be easy. But these things never are.

Ella Campbell is the Digital Coordinator at STW Group. She works with a Melbourne-based team focused on digital growth and innovation. Follow her on Twitter: @ella__campbell.


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