Minda Zetlin, who writes the The Laid-Back Leader column at Inc. Magazine, was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series and shared her insight on the most recent business technology trends. From her experience as co-author of The Geek Gap and former president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, we found an interesting connection between the future of content marketing and B2B technology disruption.
Listen to the full interview below:
Here are a few of the highlights from our conversation:
TECHNOLOGYADVICE: At the Inc GROWCO conference, there were some fantastic presentations, speakers, vendors, and sponsors. What are some of the mega trends you’re seeing from your vantage point?
Minda Zetlin: There’s blurring of lines and breaking down of barriers that used to be real defined, and a lot of that is coming about because of things like technological changes. It used to be there was an IT person or a technology department that was completely in charge of the technology in an organization. That’s just not true anymore.
Another one coming up very brutally for a lot of people in my profession is around the whole idea of writing. Such as content creation in journalism, and the old-line journalism— where there were a lot of gatekeepers and fact-checkers and something would be written and re-written three times before it was published— it still exists.
But at the same time, there’s also blogging and posting and writing a daily column for a website— the kind of thing that I’m doing where I write straight onto the website. I finish it, if I want to post it in ten minutes I can do that on my own recognizance. All of that becomes blurrier— the line between writing and advertising. Not at Inc, let me hasten to say, not in my column, not in any of our columns.
But, for instance, I’m the managing editor and community curator of a site called InnovateThink, which is sponsored by Cisco. Cisco does not tell us what to write. It just tells us what subjects it’s interested in having written about. At the same time, it’s a single sponsor controlling the site. The term for that in the industry is custom content. But what is it? Is it marketing? Is it journalism? The lines are getting blurrier.
You see that blurring of lines all over the place, roles, titles, big companies, small companies, US-based, virtually spread out. All the lines that used to tell us who you were and where you were are just a lot blurrier than they used to be.
TA: Now that the lines are blurred, what will that mean in the future of B2B technology?
Zetlin: What I said before. One of the things that we’re seeing – and this isn’t exactly new because I’ve written about it and others have too – is the idea of what software does and how it works, and how you interact with it is really evolving very rapidly. You used to be able to say, “Okay, it’s going to be on this kind of device. It’s going to be a computer.” You used to be able to say this. Now, think back – maybe you have to be old to remember this, I don’t know. You used to say, “You’re going to come in today and you’re going to be trained on our software.”
Is anybody ever going to be trained on software ever again?
I don’t think so. Because if you can’t walk in, sit down, turn it on, and figure out how it works, there’s a competitor who can do that. So I think that’s part of where the future is going.
People are so much more in control of their own technology and their own devices and they’re expecting to be in control of their own technology and their own devices. The people at Computer World, I guess about six or eight months ago, decided that BYOD is no longer a trend that they’re writing about. It’s a category in the publication, because it’s the norm. Right now, it’s bring your own smartphone. In a year, it’s going to be bring your own wearables, right? There’s going to be even less control over what specific devices people are wandering around with. So all of that, from the point of the people supplying the IT, is going to be an interesting transition.
Listen to the entire show above in order to hear our full conversation, or download the show to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes.
This interview was conducted on-site at Inc Magazine’s recent GrowCo conference in Nashville, Tenn. Other coverage included is Six Keys to Startup Survival from Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs and Why a 3D-printed Car Is the Future of Business.