Why Intelligent Disruption in Advertising Will Be the Most Important Trend of 2018

Intelligent disruption will change the way the ad industry functions.
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As we begin another year, is there a phrase or thought that the advertising industry can focus its attention on as we enter 2018? I submit to you two words: intelligent and disruption.

According to Merriam-Webster, disrupt is, “to break apart, to throw into disorder, to interrupt the normal course of unity.” Clayton Christensen, author of Innovator’s Dilemma, wrote that “disruption is a process, not an event, and innovations can only be disruption relative to something else.” The evidence of intelligent disruption is all around us: The rise of Bitcoin (intelligent currency), five billion people connected via mobile phones (with intelligent sensor packed phones that is), computational intelligence in smart products, IOT and services produced.

Photo: Dave Rossi

I believe that the process of intelligent disruption for the advertising industry will accelerate into the next decade. Those unprepared will be left behind as they will not see the clear and present threat and by the time they understand what has happened it will be too late.

Disruption is a part of natural evolution as Charles Darwin wrote in the Origin of the Species. Darwin’s words apply to business today. He said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

The telegraph, telephone, transcontinental railroad, wars, economic booms and busts, the automobile, electrification, satellite, air travel, communications, internet, smartphone, space travel and computers all had their roles in disrupting the ways of people and business.

Ray Kurzweil, the head of engineering for Google recently explained that rate of change today is exponential. He said this “translates to us experiencing 20,000 years of change in the 21st century.”

Thomas Edison, one of the greatest commercial inventors of the 20th century, saw rapid change and intelligent disruption in ways applicable to today’s transforming brand marketing ecosystem. Edison would take a needs first approach vs. an ideas first approach. He would ask what was the practical application for his intelligent disruption efforts. History shows us that industries that adapted grew, creating new industries and companies while others that didn’t innovate faded away.

The last 10 years was the smart decade. It was a period of unprecedented rapid growth. Mobile phone users grew from two billion in 2007 to five billion according to a 2017 report from the GSMA. Smartphone connections increased rapidly over the last decade to 5 billion in 2017 from 179 million in 2007, according to the GSMA. Each year for the past decade, smartphones have gotten smarter with the increasing addition of smart sensors.

Ray Kurzweil, the head of engineering for Google recently explained that rate of change today is exponential. He said this “translates to us experiencing 20,000 years of change in the 21st century.”

With all this in mind, how you can harness the power of intelligent disruption for growth today? Advertising agencies and brands need to understand technology and its resultant impact on these organizations, products, customers, user interface design, service and their employees. There are five actions advertising agencies and brands can take to stay on the cutting edge of intelligent disruption.

Think differently about how you participate in industry events outside of the advertising industry such as CES, which kicks off next week, SXSW, Mobile World Congress, Cannes Lions and more. They are excellent opportunities to keep up with the pace of change. Careful pre-event curation yields highly productive insights, business and connections. It can move organizational mountains and provide the insights needed to take action.

The industry must also help companies facing similar business challenges where knowledge and know-how can be shared and innovate with pilots in the marketplace to trial products and services to gather feedback. In this regard, non-industry players, such as academic organization and think tanks can aid research and speed transformative data-informed thought-leadership. Finally, keep close with customers, partners and competitors and be fully opened, flexible and collaborative in understanding their challenges.

While the pace of change is accelerating, so is the ability to capitalize on these trends and to rapidly reroute your business and profitability from a disrupted track to a transformed course.

Dan Hodges is CEO and founder of Consumers in Motion Group, which specializes in executive curation of technology and trends for Fortune 100 companies and is a strategic partner for Adweek event curation.