The Future Of Content Is Now: How Technology Is Ushering In A New Era Of Experience

November 9, 2021
Nathaniel Hunter

Since the dawn of our existence, people have created and consumed content. Throughout history, content has evolved from cave paintings and stories told around campfires to the written word to modern audio and visual mediums — like radio, television and film — to the culmination of all these forms into today’s hybrid model of the internet. Content is continually evolving.

As much as we are already entertained, informed and educated by the content of today, it is important to consider what’s on the horizon. As the CEO of a CGI software and production company, I believe the future of content will be digitally defined in a more immersive, touchable and interactive experience. And I think the two industries where content delivery will see its greatest change and fastest growth are entertainment and e-commerce.

When it comes to media and entertainment content, the future will be interactive. How you interact with content will depend on what the content actually is — augmented, virtual, dynamically generated or a mixture of any and all. Content itself is also very much driven by the platform it’s consumed on. Currently, the majority of the world consumes content through numerous devices, with smartphones being the most predominant. As a result, set-top box delivered content is moving more toward the mobile devices on which it’s consumed.

Interactivity is still somewhat new, but it’s likely going to become more prevalent as people desire more active engagement with their chosen content. Netflix and others have tested concepts reminiscent of the popular Choose Your Own Adventure book series. Despite being a tall order to create, the experience could yield greater engagement and inclusion for those who want a more interactive, immersive experience, which often leads to greater brand stickiness.

In actuality, the future of content creation is already here. Take The Mandalorian for example, a groundbreaking series filmed in a revolutionary hybrid soundstage environment called “The Volume,” which saved money in on-location filming and production costs. If you didn't see the behind-the-scenes features, you’d never know that a huge chunk of the show was completely computer generated without the use of a remote set.

In my view, building utility into the new breed of content is going to be a game-changer over the next 10 to 20 years — we’ll likely even see noticeable change within five years. Content choices will be driven by the platforms you use, and as a result, you may be more inclined to buy content that is supported on such platforms. Whether you’re streaming video or online gaming, the content you consume will be influenced by the environment it’s consumed in.

I think the ability to purchase content within those environments and across multiple devices will be the driving force of the digital space. The consumer will pose the question: How can I buy this and use it across different domains? Say I buy a pair of customized sneakers — will I be able to have a digital representation of them that I can import into a video game when I'm online? Taking it further, it’s possible that even the ads others see online will feature the shoe that I designed or that the show I’m watching on Netflix provides the option for the main character to wear my shoes. These are just micro-examples in a new world of possibilities.

Let’s extend that further into e-commerce. How can you bring a consumer closer to the experience of actually walking into a showroom? I think the future of content in e-commerce will involve representing products in multiple scenarios and in specific environments that were previously unattainable because of cost.

If you buy apparel in person, you’re likely to try on the clothes before making your purchase. You can hold and feel the product. You can visually see yourself with it. The ultimate goal of e-commerce is to bring you closer to that experience, but in the comfort of your own home. That's where augmented reality comes in: being able to mimic that real-world experience where you can try on shoes by superimposing them over your feet using the next generation of digital technology. I could customize my sneakers virtually as opposed to spending $200 and getting non-refundable, non-returnable shoes shipped to me days later — only to find out I don’t like how they look on me. These interactive capabilities will be a massive sea change for consumers, brands, manufacturers and retailers.

I think we’re looking at five to seven years down the line when it comes to widespread adoption. But if we reverse the clock to 13 years ago, the concept that a mobile phone could do anything other than make a phone call and send a text message was beyond comprehension — except for the small group of people who used PalmPilots. Since 2007 and the disruption of the iPhone, and shortly after, Android, smartphones have become a ubiquitous technology that many people have access to. It’s the parabolic curve of adoption. This massive growth completely changed our entire planet in a decade. Mark my words: It's not going to take a decade for the next big shift.

To manage and meet the growing expectations of customers, businesses should be consistent and timely in communications with customers. Use this information to help craft a better product, not by changing course with every request, but by collecting all the feedback together and finding the common denominators, both good and bad.

Become actively involved in the conversation around your company and your customers. Get out into the public eye via social media, op-eds and any industry-specific areas where you may find your customers or competitors. Make sure you’re showing that you understand the issues your industry faces and what your current and potential customers' pain points are. Remember to lavish praise for your team, technology, workflows and whatever else sets you apart from everyone else.

Technology has become almost completely integrated into our daily routines. The future of tech will serve to be even more ubiquitous, fueled by exciting, relevant, reusable and transferable content. Before long, I think these new types of content, and the ways in which we consume them, will become our new way of life.

Originally published by Forbes

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