Tag Archives: digital

The Future of Advertising

I have been thinking about the world of advertising in the age of social media. No longer do we consume advertisements exclusively through television, print and billboards; we have many media channels and opportunities to learn about new products. Customized ads are pushed to our computers and smartphones, sometimes taking advantage of our proximity to a particular retail outlet. Advertisers have to divide their dollars much differently in the 21st century but have the opportunity to target a much narrower demographic with their pitch.

A recent article in my local paper highlights how this advertising shift is compounded by an array of new technologies. Retailers and manufacturers can now use technology to custom deliver advertising to consumers, even from a billboard. In this blog post I explore some of the technologies available and in development to help advertisers convert their message into sales.

Smart Billboards

Traditional billboards are static, giant advertisements that reach every driver in a shotgun approach. It is a one size fits all model and while they are potentially reaching thousands of drivers every day, depending on their location, the sales conversion rate is fairly low. The next step was to create digital billboards which can shuffle through several ads in hopes of appealing to a range of drivers. There is one on an interstate near me that is very bright and annoying, especially at night. This, like the static billboard, is random in that they are targeting a very broad demographic that may be on the highway at a particular time of day.

Smart billboards are an attempt to remove the randomness. Synaps Labs has created the first smart billboard in Moscow and will bring their technology to the U.S. sometime this year. This billboard is a combination of connected cameras and machine learning. Cameras are set up ahead of the billboard and when a particular model of car is detected, the billboard will display an advertisement targeted at that driver. The billboard in Moscow had ads for Jaguar cars. The advertisers decided that particular brands of Volvos and BMWs housed drivers that may be enticed to switch to Jaguar. Advertisers are still making demographic assumptions based on a car model but they are narrowing their target audience. The picture also changes depending on whether it is night or day or summer or winter. An advertiser could play with many variables at once. Going beyond the billboard, they could also push the same ad to the driver’s cellphone as an extension or reiteration of the message.

The Future of Billboards

Advertisers are looking forward to a world of autonomous vehicles where drivers/riders have the freedom to look around instead of concentrating on the road. In this future, a consumer can follow up on the impulse to purchase the advertised item while still in the car. Better yet, with a corresponding push to the smartphone, that purchase could be only one click away. While this is intriguing to advertisers, they are asking a fundamental question about consumer behavior: when riders are free to do and look at anything, will they actually be concentrating on billboards or will they be buried in their smartphone or on-board entertainment system?


With modern technologies there are many possible outcomes and it will take a lot of trial and error until we understand how people will behave. Do you think targeted ads on billboards would sway you? Does your car really represent your demographic, or is that grasping at straws? What is the future of advertising in the digital world? Do you think that we are becoming more discerning consumers? Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Trends in Dental Technology

Here is a question I have been pondering: with all of our technological advances, how can we create a quick, painless, less-expensive trip to the dentist? This seems to me to be an area ripe for improvement so I set out to research the latest in dental technology. I am hoping that some of these technologies will show up in my next visit. Here are some trends that are changing dentistry in the 21st century.


Lasers are not new but they are still an emerging technology in dentistry. A laser can drill tooth material as well as a traditional drill but faster and with less pain, and they can provide pinpoint accuracy when removing cavities. They also remove the need for injections to deaden the tooth and surrounding areas. A different wavelength laser is used to activate a bleach substance to speed tooth whitening. Lasers can also be used to help harden a filling and improve bonding to existing tooth material.

Digital Imaging

Digital scans are beginning to replace old x-rays. They produce 90% less radiation than the old film method and they do not require processing so the image is available immediately. A digital probe that can move between teeth is available as well. The probe is small enough to be comfortable but comes with its own light source and can take video or still shots. This technology makes scans quicker, safer and more accurate.

3-D Printing

This is still in the development stage but should be coming soon to a dentist’s chair near you. A dentist could provide an image from the tool discussed above and then print a new tooth or a crown for an existing tooth. The process will be much quicker, although not instant, than creating a mold and sending it out to a lab to be made and then fitted and shaped during a second visit. This technology could benefit patients through lower cost and faster turnaround.


Some devices are being introduced that claim to remineralize teeth through a few micro-amps of electricity. Remineralization takes place naturally through eating or drinking calcium rich foods. These devices promise to accelerate that process so that teeth repair themselves and rebuild strong enamel, which would fight off cavities. This is a new technology and could prove to be revolutionary.


All of these emerging technologies are designed to reduce costs for the patient and the dentist, speed up routine procedures and reduce or eliminate pain. They will all require a fairly sizable investment from dental professionals so they may be slow to appear. My big question is this: when will we have do-it-yourself dentistry? I’d like to remineralize my own teeth or print a new one should something go wrong. I think the answer is that we will always need a professional but the procedure will become a lot easier.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Facing Digital Disruption

Image of airplanes in formation, one plane climbing straight up. In a recent Accenture report, 24% of surveyed CFOs believe that their company will cease to exist in its current form due to disruptive competition. Fifty-eight percent think their industry will be disrupted and 41% believe more than half of their competitors will disappear. The telling statistic, however, is that only 6% are preparing for the anticipated changes.

As I prepare to teach the summer AIM course Creating Business Solutions with Technology, I have been thinking a lot about disruption, particularly digital disruption. I define this as the forces of change, either within or outside the organization, which cause us to operate differently. Sometimes these are slight process changes or adjustments, but sometimes they completely change the way we do business and the way we serve customers. If only 6% of CFOs are preparing for these changes, I hope more CIOs and CEOs are planning ahead.

That’s Not How We Used To Do Things

Particularly for the IT department, technology changes are coming at a rapid pace. We need to become more efficient and deploy our resources and talents differently than ever before. No longer do we have a room full of hardware that we keep locked away from mere mortals. Our hardware and applications are now in the cloud and we are tasked with being service managers instead of systems or software managers. Because of the advances in networking, security, storage, and processing, our jobs have changed dramatically. At least they should have changed. If we are still doing our jobs the way we were 10 years ago, then there is a software or infrastructure service provider that would love to take our business.

Business Changes

Think about some of the things that you do differently as a consumer and you can begin to understand what businesses are facing in the way of new and different competition. The last time I went downtown to visit a travel agent was 10 years ago. I can’t think of the last time I phoned a hotel call center or front desk to make a room reservation. I do it all online. Sometimes I don’t even stay in traditional hotels but prefer a service like Airbnb. Taxi and even rental car services have been disrupted by new business models from companies such as Uber or Lyft. Tesla is threatening to disrupt the traditional dealership model by selling cars in small retail storefronts instead of huge showrooms with massive inventories supplied by the manufacturer. Not surprising, in a number of these disruptions, state legislators are trying to protect business as usual. That’s not how we do things around here, they say.

I send fewer letters than I did even a year ago. It is much easier to write and pay bills online. Mobile and online banking has disrupted the traditional bank downtown. I am sure that you can think of a lot more changes in your own lives due to advances in technology. These are the changes businesses need to grapple with or they risk becoming obsolete.

What To Do

Here are three steps that Accenture recommends to prepare for digital disruption:

  1. Conduct scenario planning to highlight areas of the operating model or current cost structure that need to be transformed.
  2. Create and implement an action plan to redefine your cost base with digital at the core. This is specific advice to the CFO, but applicable to all.
  3. Live and breathe customer obsession. Create strategies throughout the entire organization that focus on the customer first. What would make their lives easier and their transactions more efficient?

These strategies will help to ensure that you will be a viable competitor for the foreseeable future.


Let me know your thoughts. How has technology changed the way that you do business? How do you think things will be different five year from now? Are you ready?

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.