Once again, the year seems to have barely gotten started, and now, it's drawing to a close. We've covered a lot of ground and looked at social networking and marketing technology from a lot of different angles. Looking back, I think the recurring theme is that as technology changes, more marketing and sales channels and tools become available, and success is dependent on effectively managing and leveraging those tools.

This year began with a look at the explosive popularity of social networking and its remarkable impact and growth potential for the corporate entity creative enough and with the foresight to effectively tap into these emerging marketing channels.

Of course, that kind of growth presents challenges on multiple levels, so we took a walk through the land of "What if" to explore the dark side of Social Networking and Web 2.0 applications. Our little "thought journey" exposed some troubling and challenging realities about the responsibilities and liabilities inherent in the increasingly blurred lines between personal and business communication on social networks.

In addition to the inherent liabilities of the inevitable crossover between your and your employees' personal and business lives, being truly competitive in the modern marketplace means effectively mining the vast amount of data available and using it in a meaningful way. This is no mean feat, as we saw. As smart phone and pad technology makes ever richer multi-media content available to the consumer, necessarily more and more consumer demographic data becomes available, as well — and in increasingly granular increments. The investment in technology and human resources to manage and collate that amount of data is extensive, but the company that fails to crunch the numbers will soon fall behind those who do.

As summer lazily moved in, I advised taking advantage of the summer lull and vacation time to update your web presence and clean out the clutter. Also, updating the look and feel to match the season has obvious attention grabbing advantages when competing for the ever -diminishing consumer dollar.

Then, I exposed my own Technophobophilia and how our nearly manic dependence on our wireless devices has created a pervasive and persistent vendor-customer link that, for better or worse, is here to stay.

In the fall, we took a look at the rise of the 2D barcode as a marketing tool. First, I looked at the QR code as a marketing channel in a symbol. Not only do the QR Code and Microsoft Tag bridge the real and virtual marketplaces, but they provide a 24/7/365 passive marketing and sales channel with remarkable flexibility and reach.

So, that's it. For the past year, we've witnessed the pad and the smart phone rise, meteorically, in popularity, opening up whole new channels and methodologies for reaching out to clients and business partners. We've seen how reorganizing one's web presence to optimize for these new tools is critical, and we've realized that to compete one must leverage these tools to mine the hugely increased amount of data flowing out from the new technologies. Last, we considered how symbolic data storage can enable tapping into marketing channels that are barely explored at this point.

Thanks for reading, and have a great holiday season!

DAVE MARTINA is the vice president of systems integration for NEPS, LLC of Salem, New Hampshire, a firm that provides solutions for the automation of document-intensive business processes. For more, email david.martina@NEPS.com.
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