From content to context

Annually, Gartner Research makes a set of IT-related predictions that “showcase the trends and events that will change the nature of business today and beyond.” This year’s assessment offers 250 predictions across 56 markets, topics and industry areas.

Although the full reports are behind a pay wall (good for them!), Gartner summarizes some of its conclusions in a recent press release and provides more background on its web site. Two content-related developments jumped out at me (the text is taken from Gartner; I’ve added the links that appear):

By 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. According to Gartner’s PC installed base forecast, the total number of PCs in use will reach 1.78 billion units in 2013. By 2013, the combined installed base of smartphones and browser-equipped enhanced phones will exceed 1.82 billion units and will be greater than the installed base for PCs thereafter.


By 2015, context will be as influential to mobile consumer services and relationships as search engines are to the Web. Whereas search provides the “key” to organizing information and services for the Web, context will provide the “key” to delivering hyperpersonalized experiences across smartphones and any session or experience an end user has with information technology. Search centered on creating content that drew attention and could be analyzed. Context will center on observing patterns, particularly location, presence and social interactions. Furthermore, whereas search was based on a “pull” of information from the Web, context-enriched services will, in many cases, pre-populate or push information to users.

The most powerful position in the context business model will be a context provider. Web, device, social platforms, telecom service providers, enterprise software vendors and communication infrastructure vendors will compete to become significant context providers during the next three years. Any Web vendor that does not become a context provider risks handing over effective customer ownership to a context provider, which would impact the vendor’s mobile and classic Web businesses.

As the links I’ve added suggest, untethered access gives content providers greater access to their audiences. It also increases customer need and demand for context.

As the consumption models shift from print to digital and tethered to mobile, the roles of publishers will likely expand to include curation, unless someone else gets there first.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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