Porter Novelli

Austin is still vibrating after Kurzweil’s talk yesterday. Enhanced humans. Man-machine connections. For many people it is a bridge too far, a century too early. But if you look closer, it shows that we’re almost there.

The average phone that the average #SXSW visitor uses packs enough power to shame the most avid chess player, it is a billion billion times faster than the machines that decoded the German Enigma code in World War II. And it is readily available at your fingertips.

Phones are like Swiss Army knives. Through our phones, we outsource our memory to the Cloud: our contacts, our pictures, our music, our social calendars, our CVs. It’s all virtually stored on a faraway server, accessible to 3- or 4G connections and WiFi.  Our phones give us directions while driving, tell us where our friends are, and where we can find food. They are quickly becoming the number one gateway to the Internet. More and more calls on Google, map and Wikipedia searches and scouring of other information libraries are done on a mobile phone.

I’ve seen people giving presentations at #SXSW with their phones directly linked to a beamer, and  people who travel without a laptop or iPad, and rely solely on the processing and connection power of their smart phones.

Phones are voice-controlled, location savvy and can connect to a multitude of external devices, from Nike Run, over Bluetooth sensor devices, to cars and home entertainment systems. The few people you see at SXSW who have lost their phones are bewildered: it makes them feel thrown back in time, exposed, and vulnerable. Phones have more impact on our daily lives than we care to imagine.

For brands and their agencies, the phone has become the target for the years to come. Here is the opportunity to link with your target audience at the very point of decision, the very point of purchase. The ability to connect to people wherever they are, and use the phone as a two-way gateway is priceless. Contextual information, peer-driven opinion, profile and location-linked behavior –  it opens a ton of exciting possibilities, and a grim can of worms.

Use it wisely…