Category Archives: Current Affairs

Google’s Talk to Books: AI Opens Creative New Search Pathways

Google has long been acknowledged as the king among online search engines (does anyone still Ask Jeeves?). As www.google.com became the default “home” page on many of our browsers, it replaced search platforms like JSTOR and LexisNexis, which are now relegated to libraries and educational institutions. It also changed the way we ask questions, consume information, and navigate our own internal mental landscapes.

The power that this gives Google (and Alphabet, its parent company) is immense. There is ongoing debate over whether such a monopoly on access to information is healthy, sustainable, or conducive to democracy. As scholars and pundits debate, the rest of us continue turning to Google for answers to queries ranging from “how to fix a water heater” to “what is the meaning of life?”. Now, a new initiative from the company’s experts in artificial intelligence (AI) is once again shifting the framework of access to information online.
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Design Mindset: It’s Bigger than You Think (and so is its Value)

There’s a quote by Jules Feiffer, the acclaimed American cartoonist and author, asserting that “Design is important because chaos is so hard.” To my mind, this may be the quote of the century. Design is an integral part of our lives. It shapes the way we move through public and private spaces, how we interact with each other, and (more and more importantly) how we interact with technology. Yet design is often taken for granted by the user.

Those of us who are not designers ourselves sometimes think of design as ornamentation – a purely visual pursuit that may or may not impact our lived experience. However, design is more often an invisible force that guides and impacts us without calling attention to its presence. From clothing design to urban design to user experience, unseen designers bring order to the chaos of living in almost every aspect of our lives.
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The Rise of the eSports Economy

Competitive video gaming has existed for decades, as both amateur competitions between friends in suburban basements and professional level tournaments with large audiences and cash prizes. Now, gaming seems poised to take a major leap forward, gaining the legitimacy given to other organized competitions through the establishment of governing bodies and an expanding infrastructure catering to players and spectators alike. A recent local radio segment brought my attention to the rapid growth in collegiate eSports programs, revealing the breadth of interest and investment in the gaming economy.
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Is Blockchain the Building Block of the Future?

I recently stumbled across a quote that captured my imagination by speaking to today’s entrepreneurial mindset and unleashing the future possibilities of innovation and hard work. Tapscott Group CEO Don Tapscott, during an interview with a tech writer for McKinsey & Company, said, “I’m not a futurist. I think the future’s not something to be predicted – it’s something to be achieved.”

Tapscott’s words should resonate with any successful innovator. We learn through experience that while ideas are important, the execution of the idea builds the true foundation for success. Too many good ideas have been compromised by faulty execution or overshadowed by others who got there first. Tapscott reminds us that prediction is not as powerful as action – that the future is built by those who take the first leap forward.

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Two Powerful Strategies for Building Consumer Trust

We’ve been engaged in an ongoing exploration of the state of consumer trust (which has recently reached record lows) and how brands can reverse the trend. Today’s consumers, empowered by technology to choose from a wide range of products and to interact with brands on an unprecedented level, prize authenticity, engagement, and social responsibility. It’s a tall order for brands that previously focused solely on selling a solution to a problem.

Marketing in 2017 is about more than solutions – it requires establishing a brand identity that resonates with many various subsets of our increasingly fractured culture. And as the demographics of consumer groups continue to change, brands must emphasize diversity but transcend tokenism. Does it all make your head spin? It all comes down to trust – whether or not consumers believe that your brand has their best interests at heart.
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Truth, Trust, & the Power of Storytelling

One of the prevailing themes of 2017 so far has been the erosion of public trust in our key institutions. The Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global study conducted by a respected communications marketing firm, confirms what many of us have felt: “trust is in crisis around the world.” For the first time since 2012, the public’s trust in government, business, media, and NGOs has declined significantly.

While there is a complex web of cause and effect that has culminated in a large-scale erosion of trust in these institutions, the end result is clear – a populace that is increasingly divided and suspicious of news, marketing, and media messaging. In the era of “fake news,” PR and marketing professionals must examine their methods and recalibrate their strategy in order to reach the general public in an authentic and credible way. But how?
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The MultiCultural Edge: Who Are Tomorrow’s Super Consumers?

Recent Nielsen data confirms a seismic shift that is occurring in the demographics of American consumers. First released in 2015, Nielsen’s report on The Multicultural Edge revealed that multicultural consumers are “the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.” While Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and other multicultural groups currently make up around 40% of the population, they are on track to be a numeric majority by 2044.

This young and growing segment of the consumer population is already driving changing trends in groceries and beverages and is poised to greatly impact markets such as technology, entertainment, and fashion and beauty as well. This segment of consumers offers an exciting opportunity and a challenge for today’s brand-makers, entrepreneurs, and innovators. How will we respond?
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