E-commerce has forever altered customer expectations, but now it's bricks and mortars changing the way we engage with brands. From engineered serendipity to personalised environments, new technologies are giving retailers the opportunity to deliver exciting, unique, and sharable experiences you can't get online or in an app.
AI, machine learning and predictive intelligence are terms that are frequently thrown around in the marketing space, and we've known for a while now how these emerging technologies are going to transform businesses and the customer journey, but how will the everyday man or woman on the street feel about the experience in reality?
When AI is applied and integrated intelligently within customer communication channels, it is capable of creating personalised and highly relevant dialogue between brand and consumer. It's about using data to help understand how we as customers behave and react, and then using this insight to adapt and create a better experience.
While I may need to drop obvious clues for my partner to catch on, artificial intelligence already has this understanding. It has analysed and learned from more than 14 million attributes related to my interests, views, loves, and hates to reveal a depth of insight into my personality that my partner could only dream of possessing.
Technology-driven unemployment is no longer just an ailment of low-income households. No job is safe. There are now AI lawyers, AI accountants, and AI financial advisors. Even AI hedge fund managers. So much money is now being spent on technology that Gartner estimates many companies spend more on marketing technology than they do on actual marketing.
AI research has had some breakthroughs in recent years, with computers beating humans at complex games like chess and Go. But this time round the big developments are focused around specific goals, which are more likely to have subtle impacts and stay largely behind the scenes from a consumer perspective.
While concerns about trade and outsourcing may be genuine, our world leaders will soon have to come to terms with the increasing decline of human productivity output, as the prevalence of machines - which provide much cheaper and more effective solutions for companies around the world - poses a deeply unsettling challenge to the way we model our society.
Clearly the UK requires digital leadership at the highest level to address some of the issues around the introduction of AI. So, I was pleased to see the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee's recent report challenging the Government to put more effort into preparing the country for the impact of AI/robotics.
It's that time of the year pre-christmas when many a head is full of ideas, swarming with information from dozens of conferences, meet-ups, launches, talks and exhibitions when it's time to cut through the noise and find out what to focus on - some of which you may have heard of and some you definitely won't have. Welcome to Wired 2016.