The weekend review: wearables, visual storytelling, and telephony

This week, our colleagues at Gigaom have been busy testing out the latest gadgets and wearables ┬áso that you don’t have to. If you’re still scrambling for holiday gift ideas, check out their latest reviews of the Fitbit Force vs. the Jawbone UP24 and a comparative review of connected home hubs. Meanwhile, Gigaom Research readers are already looking ahead: Michael Wolf’s report on the near-term future of wearables was one of the most popular pieces of research content this week, alongside reports on the future of enterprise telephony and visual storytelling 101 for marketing executives.

First, in “The second wave of IT disruption: back office in the cloud,” Paul Miller takes a deep dive into how cloud-based technologies are disrupting back-office applications, such as communications infrastructure – and particularly enterprise telephony. Despite advances made in VoIP and the integration of voice, email and video communications across consumer products, most enterprises continue to lag far behind in their adoption of unified communication systems. This is becoming an even more critical issue as we face a rapidly changing workplace, where remote workers, satellite offices, and the rise of BYOD all converge to challenge the traditional call center or private branch exchange (PBX). Miller takes a look at a variety of case studies – from sources as disparate as Lafayette College, QAD and Red Hat – to explore options that take into account both desktop handsets as well as the growing range of mobile phones and mobile operating systems in the marketplace.

Next, in “Flash analysis: opportunities and roadblocks for wearables,” Michael Wolf analyzes responses from a survey of Gigaom readers about their current wearable device ownership and usage, as well as the expected challenges ahead for two popular categories of wearables: smart glasses and smart watches. While a majority (56%) of all respondents reported owning a wearable device, their predictions and opinions of the near-term future for the wearables market varied considerably. Wolf’s report breaks down the quantitative data from the survey and also highlights some of the qualitative results.

Last, in “How to build your brand with visual storytelling,” David Deal provides a primer for brands and enterprises who want to take advantage of platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to create visual content as a way of engaging consumers and building brand awareness. As social media plays a greater role in consumers lives, brands must look outside the traditional print and broadcast marketing channels to reach new audiences and convert casual consumers into loyal customers. With two thirds of all top brands using Instagram (which recently launched sponsored ad content within feeds), compelling visual storytelling content is quickly becoming a vital component of marketing strategies for both B2B and B2C companies. Deal breaks down the visual storytelling marketing strategies for some of the most prominent brands online, including Nordstrom, GE, the Boston Celtics, and the US Postal Service. He also provides guidelines and best practices for marketing executives to adopt and employ, an overview of the existing visual storytelling platforms, and suggestions for how to measure results.

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