Capitol Communicator is running a series of posts about predictions regarding what’s ahead in 2019. If you have thoughts on what’s ahead in 2019, email Phil Rabin, editor of Capitol Communicator, at phil.rabin@capitolcommunicator.com.

According to D.C.-based CHIEF/ByteCubed, here’s what’s ahead in the 12 months:

Speed and Interconnectedness: 5G is often discussed in the context of smart cities and the internet of things. While 5G will provide infrastructure for a variety of innovative new business models, its core capability is to serve as a mobile network and help streamline communications. Inside your organization, 5G will help communications by enhancing telework options and supporting teams working on cloud-based collaborative documents and platforms in real time. From a business standpoint, 5G will allow organizations of all kinds to benefit from big data insights by massively improving transfer speeds. Which leads us to…

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning: With magazine articles and newspapers giving way to digital content delivery, communications professionals are able to extract more data on their consumers than ever before. Through AI and machine learning, we can help content delivery platforms develop an understanding of what sort of content audiences respond to best, and on what channels. These platforms can then recommend content based on this learned understanding of what we like—going beyond elementary insights like “You watched Mean Girls, would you like to watch Mean Girls 2?”, machine learning can be used to gauge the public’s appetite for different kinds content—helping predict or even start trends before they happen.

Visual and voice search: In 2019 we can anticipate search engines putting even more emphasis on visual/video when it comes to organic search rankings—so it will be even more important for communications and content strategy professionals to be purposeful with SEO. Since search engines cannot “see” visual content the way they can scan on-page and backend content (or maybe with advanced AI… they will), we’ll find an emphasis on more accurate alt text descriptions and full metadata transcription of video content. Similarly, with half of all internet searches anticipated to originate from voice by 2020, we predict a push towards more nuanced voice search strategies that mimic the way humans actually talk (versus how they type). This will include more conversational tone, and long tailed keywords so that our friend Alexa knows the difference between “find Allbirds” (sneakers) and “find all birds” (a list of species).

Chatbots and Self-Service: We’ve mentioned artificial intelligence in the context of Netflix’s movie recommendations and Amazon’s Alexa, but what’s on the horizon for how AI is revolutionizing communications? Enter: chatbots and self-service software. The evolution of chatbots has made it so consumers have on-demand access to brands like never before. They’re helping solve customer service challenges and nurture new business leads—and they’ve gotten smart. In the next year we can expect to see chatbots implemented across a variety of companies and industries as they become more sophisticated—asking all the questions a human would ask and including things like emojis and current event references to make the conversation seem more natural.

What’s even more convenient than communicating with chatbots? Self-service. Solutions like mobile banking and online shopping have been around for quite some time, but we’ll see self-service infiltrate a host of new industries in 2019.  Reformation, a popular online women’s retailer, opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Washington, D.C, this year with almost no inventory on display. Instead, shoppers use digital screens to peruse Reformation’s offerings. Shoppers are then able to add things to their “virtual cart” and try them on in store. Inside each dressing room, customers can use a digital screen to request items, adjust the lighting and hook-up their iPhone to listen to their personal playlist. By melding e-commerce with traditional shopping, Reformation is just one organization using technology and self-service to create a powerful brand experience.

So while technologies like AI, machine learning and self-service seem like a step away from traditional customer communication, they’re all tools for engaging with them in more meaningful, measurable ways.

 

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