As a career long content producer and marketer, I feel my professional journey has been full of change. Years ago, marketing was far different than it is now. The tools we used in the industry were vastly different than the tools used today. Even the information that I was learning back then, now appears to be soooo old-school. I am totally dating myself... but you get the idea.
What I didn't realize when I graduated from college, was that my career was going to be a never-ending process of learning. Sometimes I was trying to learn about a new client's business. The process that I put myself through felt like a final exam. I crammed in as much information as I possibly could in order to learn the information as quickly as possible. Other times I can remember new technology that I had to learn as part of my job. At the time it felt like my brain was about to explode because of the mad rush of new information, which I had not previously been exposed. All of this is what I call the quantum leap of change.
This is the time of year when thousands of colleges and universities around the US are graduating seniors and pushing them out into the world. Those seniors are probably thinking, 'I've had enough studying and want to take a break.' Little do they know their career may necessitate studying even harder. They may need to push themselves further in order to learn something new. In my marketing career, the crazy part about trying to stay up to date is, technology and information is changing at warp speed and not slowing down. In fact, marketing is speeding up.
From Then To Now
Advances in technology have taken a quantum leap forward and caused professionals plenty of headaches over the years just trying to keep up. I compare this process to holding on to a bumper of a speeding car. You will never get ahead, but with great effort, just barely hold on for your professional life and try to stay sane along the way.
Typewriter > Computer > Laptop > iPad > Smartphone
These five devices have changed the way we work and interact forever. I can remember using a computer professionally for the first time and trying to figure out how to make it work. I also wondered then, 'do I really need this?' Now I make my living using computing devices, small and large.
Books > Conferences > Videos > Websites > Whitepapers > eBooks > Google hangouts > Apps
Learning for my job back in the dark ages was primarily done through reading and studying from a book or participating in a face-to-face workshop. Today, those still exist. However, every form of digital, social and mobile app is now easily available, and learning information comes to you instead of you coming to it. It's real time and on your time. A complete paradigm shift from years ago.
Print, TV and Radio > Primary Mass Media > Web/Digital/Mobile
Not too many years ago, mass-media advertising was primarily print, TV and radio. Now, there are so many options for marketers. It's hard to discern which one is best. The digital eco-system is so broad and it's changing fast. As soon as a new digital channel appears, there is already another one ready to take it's place in the market. We live in a constant state of advancement. 'Stay tuned' as they once said on TV.
No Data > Big Data
This may be difficult to imagine. 20 years ago it was nearly impossible to gather data for marketing campaigns. Focus groups were the best way to gather information, and that information did not come quickly. Today, Big data is real time and needs to be assimilated and translated at the same speed. Marketers need to be data driven creative types, not creative types that have to resort to using data. This is yet another shift in marketing that changed how marketing is produced and distributed.
Speed Of Business From Fast > Real Time
As we discussed earlier, real time business information flow is normal today. Without it, businesses are behind. How does a company take advantage of real time data? They employ technology to help facilitate gather, curate and re-purpose data to make decisions quicker. This translates to products and services getting to market faster, higher yields, larger markets and start-ups becoming known faster.
Mass Media > Social Media
This is probably the area that has caused the most disruption of any other business tool, app or process. Social use to mean a person or group went to visit another person or group and they communicated. However, social now means you have tons of apps that allow instant communication with people you don't know from around the world. Video, pictures, voice and text can be shared in a moment's notice. Social media has changed the way the entire world thinks, talks, communicates, shares, listens, and does business, all in a matter of a few years.
Necessary change is not always embraced with a positive ' let's do this' feeling.
My career has seen a lot of change in marketing, most for the better. However, if you asked me along the way if I thought some of it was necessary or good, I may have told you no. In a world where change is happening at speeds far beyond what our minds can imagine, I feel our culture and business climate is still hanging on to the bumper of the speeding car. Technology has certainly put the pedal to the metal and a new norm is in place. That new norm is not just speeding, it's at warp speed.
Who would have thought we would still be hanging on at this speed? I guess our minds do have the capacity to continue learning, even at warp speeds beyond our imagination. Let's continue to hang on and enjoy the ride.
Follow Scott MacFarland on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@scmacfarland