Industry Pulse: July’s Top 5 Stories


The Industry Pulse: A fresh perspective on what’s new and next in marketing. See the latest updates and explore industry insights from our +minded team

Voice-Controlled Devices: The Consumers Have Spoken

Status check on voice-controlled devices — we’ll let the numbers do the talking. By eMarketer’s estimates, 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-controlled device at least once a month this year, a 128.9 percent increase over last year. When it comes to using voice-controlled virtual assistants — the software found in these devices, such as Amazon Echo’s Alexa, iPhone’s Siri, or Spotify’s new, unnamed aide — that number rises to 60.5 million Americans, about a fifth of the population. Real talk: Those are some pretty impressive stats!

But it’s really all about Amazon. To account for 70.6 percent of users in 2017 per eMarketer’s predictions, the company’s Echo products are clearly the dominant devices in the space. Recently lowered prices may be helping to further amplify the Echo’s standing. After all, on Prime Day (a sort of Black Friday for Amazon subscribers), sales were seven times higher than those from last year.

Mind Map App Charts New VR Territory

Think virtual reality (VR) technology is just for fun and games? Think again. An experimental new tool shows how it could be used for improving productivity. Called Noda, the app allows SteamVR, Oculus Home, and Viveport users to build mind maps — diagrams that help you visually relate concepts — in 3D. Users take hold of virtual tablets to create and connect text- and image-based nodes, which Noda refers to as an intuitive way to “place your thoughts in space.” Though not yet launch-ready, it’s still an innovative way to brainstorm and plan for projects. 

As AI Advances, Marketers Look Ahead

Artificial intelligence (AI), but genuine business results … that’s the hope, at least. Given recent rapid developments in the AI space, the creation of truly intelligent machines that can “think” in ways similar to humans (such as processing language and understanding images) may not be far off. In some ways, advanced AI is already here. Take for example: Its tech sets out to help customer relationship management (CRM) teams add an even more personal touch to their calls, analyzing call audio to offer real-time suggestions while also flagging areas for future improvement. And just raised $20 million in funding, which should help it develop the tool even further.

While this all sounds great for CRM, what are marketers most interested in seeing from AI? Personalization and efficiency enhancements top the list, according to eMarketer. Around 60 percent of marketers (including us) expect AI to advance analytics, boost data insights, improve dynamic websites, and impact programmatic buying.

These expectations may be met sooner rather than later. Though the experimental tech is resource-intensive and notoriously risky, there’s a certain progressive giant looking to make an impact with its investments. Yep, Google has taken up the charge with its new AI-aligned fund, Gradient Ventures. It’s already made an investment in Algorithmia, an open marketplace for algorithms. What AI innovations will Gradient Ventures target next?

Security Software Star Moves Toward Mobile

With four notable acquisitions completed in the past year, it’s safe to say that cybersecurity firm Symantec is bulking up big time. First Symantec snapped up Lifelock, an identity theft protection company, along with Blue Coat Systems, a web security outfit, for $2.3 billion and $4.65 billion, respectively. This past month, it brought Fireglass, a malware- and phishing-oriented startup, and Skycure, a company focusing on mobile threat defense, into the fold. (Terms for these deals have not yet been disclosed.) Particularly noteworthy is the addition of Skycure, which Symantec plans to integrate into its own mobile products. Anxious mobile-first firms and “bring your own device” workplaces that are constantly concerned with data and app vulnerabilities should be able to rest a bit easier with this new layer to their security blanket. 

Luxury Wearables: Watch This Space

Wearables aren’t typically associated with the fashion-forward crowd (remember gawky Google Glass?), but Louis Vuitton is hoping to change that with the Tambour Horizon, its newly released smartwatch. While the Tambour isn’t the first luxury smartwatch to hit the market, Louis Vuitton claims customizable designs and proprietary travel apps set its Android-based device apart. Like us, you may call the Tambour clunky-chic and complain about its hefty price tag, but similar gripes had little effect on the pioneering Apple Watch’s sales, which turned Apple into the world’s second best-selling watch brand in just two years. Now, Louis Vuitton says luxury consumers are primed for something bigger and blingier — and with connected luggage, footwear, and clothing in the works for the company, it looks like fashion tech may be an idea whose time has finally come. 


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