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Readers Speak: Identifying the Most Significant Digital Changes

Posted on 10.29.2015

A lot can change in 10 years – especially in the technology industry where fresh ideas are born every minute.

There have been many developments in the tech space since 2005, but the most important depends a great deal on who you ask. This is why Website Magazine decided to ask our readers what, in their opinion, has been the most significant digital change in the past 10 years and how it has changed their business operations. Find out their responses (and add your own in the Comment Section) below: 

Mobile – David Mercer, SME Pals

“I would say that the biggest digital change for us has been the migration to mobile devices. This has forced us to redesign everything that touches the Web in order to cater for small-screen mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Websites had to be redesigned to be "responsive" so that they are usable on any size screen. This takes time, effort and money to develop.”

Social Media – Alison Golan, Golan Public Relations

“As a PR professional for over 20 years, social media has completely rewritten the rules of marketing and PR. Ten years ago I would run every outside communication by upper management – from press releases to letters to the editors. Social media makes that obsolete. Now, broad corporate messaging is approved and PR people must act in real-time to disseminate that information (in their own words) and respond on the fly. Now your marketing and PR people have become publishers of educational content that is continually being churned out to customers and prospects.”

iPhone – James A. Gardner, Connective DX

“In my mind, the most significant digital development in the past 10 years was probably the 2007 launch of the Apple iPhone. It was the catalyst for ubiquitous mobile browsing and computing, a phenomenon that's still reshaping industries around the world almost 10 years later-retailing, banking, publishing, etc. Today there are over 2.5 billion smartphones in use globally.

“I work at a digital experience agency that designs and implements enterprise Web publishing platforms. No client today would imagine building a website that didn't have a phone and tablet capability. In fact, we often design first for mobile, relaxing the design and its restrictions on larger desktop screens.”

Content Marketing – Bruce Morgan, Orion Concepts

“The constant need for new content. We work with a lot of e-commerce businesses and their success depends on their ability to drive traffic. That 30-piece fashion line that a client spent the last six months working on represents maybe five minutes of visitor, time which is a tough reality for a lot of businesses. If brands aren't pumping out a constant and compelling stream of content on social media keeping people engaged with their brands and driving traffic to their site, it's almost inevitable that the business won't succeed. This is less true for service businesses (law firms, medical, etc) than consumer-goods (fashion, shoes, electronics) but a reality no less. Big brands get this but sadly, a lot of new/smaller brands aren't quite up to speed in this department.”

Online Reviews – Charlotte Waller, carcamerashop

“Online reviews are the most significant digital development. We're an e-commerce store and in our opinion, our online review and star rating plays a significant role in the end sales we receive. Sixty percent of people look at reviews before buying online and the more positive reviews we have, the more organic Web traffic we receive from people seeing our reviews online and being more inclined to click, and the more revenue we ultimately generate.

“Additionally, there's a lot of tech involved nowadays in getting reviews to be visible on Google; implementing schema code and installing widgets and so on. The need for technical ability is imperative and thus we've had to recruit this to manage our online reviews among other tasks. Online reviews have brought a new power to the consumer; being able to be named and shamed made us pull our socks up when it came to customer service and forced us to put technical and financial resource into obtaining and showing reviews online.”

Streaming – David Batchelor, DialMyCalls

“For us (the best digital development) by far has been the vast improvement of streaming voice and video over the Internet. What once was choppy and unreliable has become something used by tens of millions of people every day. The ability to seamlessly video chat with someone halfway around the world in high definition video was something out of science fiction not that long ago. This technology has changed everything from business to just everyday communications in such a short period of time.”

Git – Ryan O’Donnell, Avalara

“Git has changed the way development of technology happens across the board. It offers fast, distributed development that allows teams to work on a shared, cloud based repository. This accelerates development and improves remote team collaboration and content management. It really has been a game changer for the digital world.”

Network Technology – Chris Searles, Searles Media

“While I'm sure a number of people would say mobile devices are the most significant change in the past decade, many people forget that those devices wouldn't be what they are without the advancements in network technology that have taken place. 4G connections, nearly-ubiquitous Wi-Fi access in urban and suburban areas, and Wi-Fi on moving platforms like airplanes and buses have enabled us to be more connected than ever before.

“What this means as business owners is that we need to make sure we are connecting with people over those networks and accommodating their changing habits and behaviors. Responsive Web design is now a requirement for your website, not an optional 'nice-to-have' feature, and native apps can be a tremendous asset when utilized properly.”

The Death of Flash – Jay Schwartz, IdeaWork Studios

"Ten years is a long time in this business. The rise of social media, the accessibility of content management systems, and smartphones all are factors in how we operate today, and were all nonexistent or in their infancy a decade ago. If I had to point to ONE thing-a singular tuning point-it would be Steve Jobs' announcement that iOS would not ever support flash. That changed how we did business from that day. It also made so many new technologies, like javascript, essential for top-tier website development, ushered in the necessity for the Web font industry, and had developers scurrying to learn how to develop the apps that are so ubiquitous today."

Social Media – Justin Kaiser, Metia

"The evolution of social media marketing is transforming advertising. We now live in a world that encourages (or even requires) instant gratification and advertisers have to be nimble with messages they want to deliver, and how they want to deliver them.”

Data – Cory Munchbach, BlueConic

“The most significant digital development of the past 10 years has been the explosion of data that has accompanied the rise of digital tools. The ability to test track, measure, and derive insight at scale from a virtually infinite data flow has fundamentally changed marketing and the broader enterprise’s way of doing business. We’ve seen entirely new companies emerge due to their ability to capture and leverage data in new ways (Mint, FitBit, and Lyft). One of the major consequences of all this data has been determining how to use the data to create richer relationships with customers that deliver actual value to them and so far, the results have been decidedly mixed as CMOs grapple with how to really individualize interactions at scale in spite of their siloed departments and fragmented planning. Even though this change has been a hallmark of the last 10 years, I expect it will continue to shape and define the upcoming 10 as well.”

Personalization – Nathan Stull, Abila

"The most significant digital development in the past 10 years is knowing we're delivering the right content to specific audiences online when they need it. Using marketing automation to better engage customers and improve the website's content effectiveness by integrating Oracle Marketing Cloud with the Get Smart Content platform, Abila tested and delivered the newly tailored messages based on each audience's specific needs. Customers who own our products don't want to see content asking them to purchase that product. Now they know where to get answers to their technical questions, or where to find additional training."

Social Media – Scott Brandt, Sprout Social

"Many digital developments have transformed business in the past 10 years, and of them, social media has been the most significant. Social media has empowered the consumer like never before: All consumers have the power to share their stories, provide feedback and publish reviews, ultimately influencing the purchasing decisions of others. Consumers can talk directly to businesses, sharing ideas, giving feedback and even saying thank you for a great experience.

“Social media went well beyond changing the way Sprout Social operates; it is the reason Sprout was conceived. Our mission is to enable business and brands to better communicate with their customers and communities through social media platforms. We help companies tap into the power that consumers now hold and use it to their advantage. Research has shown that when businesses and brands engage with their customers, they are rewarded with deeper levels of loyalty and higher satisfaction levels. Ten years ago, no such opportunity existed for businesses or consumers."

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