It’s a kind of magic: four key technology trends for the media sector and beyond


July 3, 2017

Following the MRS Media Summit in June, our Telecomms, Media and Technology market head Melanie Lewis reflects on the top four technology trends for the sector and what it means for the future, both within the industry and beyond.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clark

Let’s get real about virtual reality

No longer confined to the cult sci-fi movies from the 80’s, virtual reality is finally starting to come to fruition and has the potential to completely change the media game.

Indeed, the gaming sector has been leading the way in implementing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) for many years. Early adoption has been dominated by men with over 40% interested in buying a virtual reality headset compared to 27% of women.

Last Summer’s smash hit Pokemon Go introduced a basic form of augmented reality to the masses – and demonstrates how advances in technology and inspired applications within everyday life have been challenging the last remaining barriers between niche appeal and mainstream adoption of AR and VR.

These barriers are not insignificant but focus more on the social and practical acceptance of the technology rather than the tech itself; for example, improving the accessibility and affordability, increasing user acceptance of the experience and ensuring relevance based on content and application

As a result, brands should be asking themselves when and how rather than if virtual or augmented reality should feature during their customer’s interaction and/or experience of the brand.

Advances have already been made in the retail and hospitality space. For example; in retail, virtual mirrors being used with online shoppers to help them visualise how they’d look in outfits. Within hospitality, start-up companies have been exploring menus which allow you to look at the restaurant’s dishes in 3D before you make an order.

No matter your sector, it is important to ensure that the technology remains focussed on enhancing the customer or viewer experience which leads us nicely on to…

Using technology to make everyday tasks easier…

More and more of us are looking to technology to make our lives easier – to help us with those everyday tasks, to make the day to day more efficient and enable us to fit more into our increasingly busy lives.

Consumers are being challenged on a regular basis to make a trade-off between convenience and control. Adoption is likely to be based on a consumer’s perception of ‘risk’; for example, low-risk applications appeal broadly. 59% would use connected tech to switch on heating remotely but add in the need to share more personal information and the appetite is much lower. Only 27% would use a smart shelf which re-orders your favourite washing powder and only 17% would consider using an algorithm to determine what to wear.

For the time being, there is still a requirement to enable a ‘human’ judgement to finalise key decisions. As adoption increases and we start to relax our reservations about the ‘risk’ involved, tech will be used to make more decisions on our behalf driven by our need for ease.

This will transform our purchase journey and brands will need to think about how their influence our purchases and perception in this new world. Indeed, what role will advertising play in the future, if ‘decisions’ are less emotional and more rational undertaken by machines and algorithms?

Giving your brand a voice

Perhaps one of the biggest talking points from the day centred around the growing impact of voice recognition and smart speaker technology.

New devices and software – such as Amazon’s Echo – have the potential to become the next big revolution across consumer industries. But similar to mCommerce uprising of 2008, this new technology brings a lot of questions for brands and business – from how best to utilise in order to improve experiences to what your brand should sound like

Read The Challenge of Smart Speakers: have you got your voice?

Living in a (filter) bubble

As a consumer of (a lot) of media content, I’m increasingly aware that providers have seemingly decreasing expectations of my ability – or more accurately, my willingness – to find relevant content for myself. Nowadays, where content is more readily available, accessible and varied than ever before, why do I find myself watching similar shows again and again?

As anyone who’s taken one look at Netflix’s ‘Recommended for You’ suggestions will tell you, there is a big difference between personalised and relevant content.

Directing us towards relevant (but not personalised) content suggests there is still an element of chance – of finding something that you might not have considered that fits the bill. To an extent, it can keep you guessing.

But in contrast, personalised content using a basic, one-dimensional approach has the potential to limit our creative discovery. It is too simple, assuming that your previous behaviour can predict all your future choices and, as a result, the reward is content that you may feel is all too familiar.

It all suggests that personalisation is not yet where it needs to be, the lack of sensitive and innovative application is holding us back and impacting on the customer experience. It’s creating a bubble from which consumers can’t escape. It’s hampering discovery as if all we ever show consumers is a product that we believe they want or need, what happens to more aspirational brands? What happens to the dream?

In summary, technology is vitally important. It provides us with the ability to make our day-to-day lives easier, to communicate with brands faster and, simply, to do more.

I truly believe that technology offers huge potential – not only in the media sector – but across all consumer industries. However, I’m also a strong advocate for ensuring that technology is used to enhance – not engulf – the customer experience. For me, that’s where the true magic lies.



Melanie Lewis is Managing Director for Telecomms, Media and Technology at Maru/edr. Continue the conversation with Melanie by emailing her directly on or by connecting on LinkedIn.