Quick Chat: Kate Ancketill, CEO, GDR Creative Intelligence

We are in the throes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution—the fusion of physical, digital, and biological technologies. The implications for business and marketing are enormous.

Quick Chat: Kate Ancketill, CEO, GDR Creative Intelligence

What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and how will it change marketing?

Those are the questions Kate Ancketill, a futurist specialising in retail and leisure, will answer at the Adobe EMEA Summit next month in a session called “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and what this means for experience-making, service expectations, and communications of the future.”(click here to register) (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company).

When CMO.com caught up with her for a preview of her session, we began by asking her to define the Fourth Industrial Revolution:

Ancketill: The first was mechanisation, the second was mass industrialisation, the third was digitisation, and now we’re in the fourth, which is the fusion of physical, digital, and biological technologies. The speed of change in the current phase is considered to be exponentially faster than in any of the three previous revolutions.

CMO.com: How is it going to impact business?

Ancketill: It was a major topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, with the main issues of concern being the economic impact of machine learning on future employment, and that both businesses and people alike need to ensure that artificial intelligence and biotech aren’t allowed to progress in a direction that’s against the interests of humanity. This is what the Future of Life Institute in the US is working towards, with contributions from Elon Musk and Professor Stephen Hawking.

CMO.com: What are some of the practical near-term implications of this for marketers?

Ancketill: We have entered a new communications era, with broadband ubiquity, affordable 3D cameras, and artificial intelligence making it possible for everyone to create high-quality, edited media content in 3D, where the viewer directs their gaze within a 360-degree world. We’ve moved from words to pictures to videos, and now we’re in the era of total immersion. This has implications for social media, advertising, marketing, travel, video conferencing, gaming, entertainment, leisure, packaged goods, and pretty much every commercial category.

The Internet of Things is another manifestation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where almost any inanimate object has the potential to be connected to the Internet, and to function more like a service.

Beyond this, the next level will see more proactive engagement, where your digital assistant notices you haven’t ordered your usual groceries and prompts you to do so.

CMO.com: Do I need to worry about AI?

Ancketill: It depends on what you do, and how long you expect to be doing it for. There are implications for many industries in the foreseeable future: intelligent on-demand manufacture will impact retail and engineering, the need for call centres and white collar advisory will decline, social robotics will change the care and education sectors. Consumer expectations will require ultra-personalisation and better-than-real-life experiences.

There will, hopefully, be as many upsides as challenges, such as advances in medical science and the creation of new industries and employment opportunities. If you’re a CEO, you definitely need to understand how AI could be used to improve customer service and reduce costs of delivery—you can be sure your competitors are.

CMO.com: It’s a huge topic, what’s the one thing we should take from it?

Ancketill: Voice control. Remember Captain Picard talking to the computer on Star Trek? We’ve got that in our office—it’s called the Amazon Echo. Once you’re used to it, there’s no going back.

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