The movie Her, staring Joaquin Phoenix is about a man who falls in love with his computer operating system. Among many other things, the operating system (played by Scarlett Johansson) is able to perform tasks at lightning speed, have deep conversations, and craziest of all – feelings. When the OS was asked her name she read a book on names in 2/10 of a second to come up with “Samantha.” This task’s challenge was profound in that there was no right or wrong answer. The name the OS selected was unique to the new relationship. Samantha is not Siri. Siri is the name Apple gave to its OS feature.
While it may seem far-fetched, and despite the fact that this movie takes place in the future, I imagine looking back in 10 years this will seem like Disney World’s Tomorrowland. If you’ve been to Tomorrowland in the last few years it’s very apparent that maintaining a land that keeps up with the future is a big challenge. However, if you visited Tomorrowland 20 years ago then the 5 inch thick flatscreen TVs may have impressed you. The rides, technology and decor foreshadowing the future seemed unimaginable. Today, the technology at Tomorrowland is majorly dated from our advancements.
Her is Tomorrowland.
Her will impress you, but what’s different about the technology in Her and that of Tomorrowland is that you know this technology will come to fruition. Tomorrowland seemed unreal. In 10 years an operating system like the one in Her will seem dated but today you will agree it’s amazing.
Operating systems that know you, have personalities, and can change based on your behavior and interests are just around the corner. Contextual based mobile applications already exist. Check out the video below from Aviate which is one of many start-ups that are bullish on contextual based technology:
So what does this mean to me?
As I watched the movie I thought about the implications this future technology would have on people and businesses. I came to the conclusion that the technology is so far advanced that it will actually be quite easy to use. For example, a vital accessory that nearly all computers have is intentionally missing from Her. Can you guess what that may be? The keyboard. Who needs a keyboard when via a casual conversation your computer system will be able to draft emails, SMS messages, make weekend plans, book travel and even help you decide what outfit to wear. Keyboard use vs. voice recognition use will be comparable to watching a movie on DVD vs. streaming.
Also, and this is BIG- Operating systems would rather make highly intelligent guesses rather than giving thousands of options to their users. This too already exists today with Google Now. Compare the left image to a search query with millions of results.
The “Google search” is already changing before our eyes. Rather than typing in Google, “Flight Status” your mobile device via Google Now will show cards for your upcoming flight, nearby hotels, and restaurants. The next step in this evolution is to predict what you may like based on your previous lunch time habits tracked from check-ins, map searches, emails, messages and pictures taken. The logical technology after that would be for an OS to ask you what you’re hungry for and then communicate with that restaurant’s computer system to make a reservation. Therefore, unless your business is statistically relevant to the query, your business may not appear in search results. Some factors that will affect the results are geo-location, social and friendship circles, reviews, relevant content, personal history and other factors attained through proper business optimization.
1) Consequently, “business optimization,” my two new favorite words to replace SEO, SEM, CRO, local, video and social, will be like a college degree today – a prerequisite to even be considered for results.
2) It will be near impossible to catch up if you haven’t begun to develop contextual awareness via business optimization.
3) Don’t fight the future – technology has always been complicated. It will be easier to operate and understand for the end user than ever before.
4) Become a trusted authority offline– Technology is getting very good at identifying businesses that offer value to their customer
5) Treat your business like it’s success or failure will be determined from context- because it will.