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It’s PR, Jim, but not as we know it…

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If, like me, you’re the kind of person who breaks into a cold sweat at the thought of figuring out a new household appliance, the news that 2017 is set to be the year robots go mainstream may not be a welcome one.

Those interested in the rapidly evolving digital landscape will no doubt be aware that artificial intelligence – or AI – has been gradually working its way into our everyday lives for some time. Once associated with science fiction films such as Total Recall, robot technology is now evolving at terrifying speed. The launches of Amazon Echo and Google Home in 2016 were a clear sign that life as we know it is likely to look very different this time next year.

So what’s driving this rapidly advancing technology? It’s easy to put it down to a group of mad scientists testing the boundaries of possibility. In fact, consumer demand is at the forefront of this need for brands to make life easier and provide products and services faster than ever before.

I recently attended the IGD Big Debate, where the need for ‘immediacy’ was a key theme. From same day shopping deliveries and easy reordering services such as Amazon Dash, to the success of Deliveroo and UberEATS, the grocery industry is scrambling to keep up with the pace at which consumer needs are evolving. And digital technology is the enabler.

IGD Chief Economist, James Walton, believes we are on the brink of a “4th industrial revolution” – with AI, bio technology, virtual reality, digital connectivity and robotics fast emerging as key players in the not so distant future.

Food delivery app Just Eat has already been trialling self-driving delivery robots and is set to roll out robot delivery across London next year. Whether or not we embrace such technology, as marketeers it is vital we stay abreast of it and know how it will affect our clients in the coming weeks, months and years.

When I reflect back over the many *cough* years since I started my career in PR, the difference in the media landscape, available tools and techniques with which we perform our jobs is staggering.

Not all my colleagues at Cirkle will remember a time when we sent press releases out in the post, risked daily SprayMount intoxication in the press cuttings room and recorded radio interviews on cassette tapes. But most will know that it’s only a decade since Facebook was taking its first fledgling steps and journalists held all the power – what a long way we have come in even just the past 10 years.

So as we look ahead to 2017 it is almost impossible to imagine what the future holds. But one thing is for certain, brands and businesses need to adapt and ensure their systems, services and staff can cope with life in a fast-paced and digitally enabled world.

Sian Kilgour
Senior Associate Director

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