One of the most important lessons for me over the past few years – marked by the emergence and then explosion of social media – is the growing irrelevance of boundaries between marketing, public relations and corporate functions like IT and HR. In fact, I would argue blurring these silos is not only beneficial, but critical, for organizations intent on fully engaging their audiences. Some of the best innovations in social media (and communications) have come from cross-pollination and collaboration across disparate corporate functions, and there is a rich crop of new ideas emerging on a regular basis.

As exhibit A take a look at these proposed digital marketing trends by Advertising Age. At first glance, some of these appear to have huge potential well beyond pure advertising, notably:

  • Growth of viral videos
  • Gaming becomes more social and mobile
  • Boom in mobile web access
  • Customization based on location
  • Real-time search
  • Social graphs and networks

Innovative companies are already leveraging some of these ideas in their communication programs, but imagine how much more could be done. Even with seemingly obvious assets like video and mobility, many companies seem hesitant to fully leverage these tools within their own communication networks. Imagine adding ingredients like GPS capability and real-time search in corporate intranets, for example, or introducing more gaming technology into communication materials and training. Why not use an application like foursquare, as another example, to help employees identify colleagues near their location and compete for “mayorships”? Or allow staff more leeway to create and leverage personal groups – either on internal networks or outside the firewall? The potential seems unlimited.

From my perspective, the barriers are typically not with end users – though there will always be inherent realities based on job function – but rather with executive timidity. Many companies don’t even let their employees access social networks the company uses for marketing campaigns. Leaders would be better served to explore what they could do, rather than what they shouldn’t do.

FYI – For an interesting comparison on trend prognosis check out David Armano’s take in HBR.