Once, content was just content, SEO didn’t require an esoteric understanding of analytics and social media was an afterthought for bored interns. Even developers could be one-trick-ponies, providing the trick was building functional websites. But that was then. Today, users are users in the truest sense of the word, mainlining their media through devices that talk to each other, talk to the cloud, evolve and even learn – and that’s forcing content creators to rethink things…

Dystopian hyperbole aside, Hyperconnectivity has troubling ramifications, particularly for traditional digital agencies. Understanding the problem requires familiarity with the buzzword itself: Hyperconnectivity can be defined as a technological trend in which all things that can communicate through a network (including individuals, software and devices) will communicate through a network, creating a state of constant connection.  Another intriguing step toward the Singularity? Possibly. A wake-up call for digital producers? Almost certainly. Silo-thinking requires insular decision-making – something that’s becoming increasingly restrictive in an industry characterized by less restrictions and more connections. Digital silos are problematic because they reduce broad business strategies to isolated actions – tactics that don’t account for hyperconnectivity and subsequent evolutions in user expectation.

But understanding the solution requires an understanding of that expectation: what users don’t require is a complete overhaul of the digital agency meta-mandate. Excellent ideas will always have value and implementation will continue to serve as currency. But in a world where most individuals have access to smart TVs, tablets, phones, watches and even glasses, today’s expectation is for accessible, interactive experiences tailored to user needs; content that’s birthed from data-driven strategies, informed by factors like location, motivation and even the device in question. Fundamentally, the solution lies in a shift away from web-centric channel marketing so common in digital silos, to environments that are driven by interaction and powered by engagement through hyperconnected devices.

Tomorrow’s content creators will require many more arrows in their quiver to remain competitive and much more elbow-room to draw their bows – much more than digital silos can offer. The answer is a broader form of omni-channel marketing: a multichannel approach that provides seamless experiences between web and traditional – one that recognises the opportunity in the breadth of existing digital touchpoints. Viable agencies will be the ones abandoning the (deceptively) stable and efficient world of silo-thinking and embracing cross-media and cross-device unity to navigate the new, ever-evolving digital ecosystem. In practical terms, it means adopting a holistic approach to digital production by integrating elements such as brand, data and user experience, irrespective of the medium. It means embracing a healthy homogenization of verticals like design, technology and analytics. It means engaging with the market, not reacting to it. Because stepping into the future means first stepping out of the silo.

March 13, 2017