Silly Digital Predictions.
Design Frameworks, Internet of Things, Wearables, Client-centric Marketing, Collaborative Consumption, Privacy/Security & SmartPay.
It’s a bit daft predicting what’s going to be big in any given year as the market moves slow enough that the “big things” are already significant enough to be obvious.
However, there are some big topics that are being driven from the ground up so we’re likely to see adoption accelerate greatly during the year. And starting with:
Not just Smartwatches, although they are important, we’ll see the growth of internet-connected devices around our body including “fit-bracelets” and button devices. The big manufacturers are pushing the drive to move Internet services off our phones and into all sorts of devices (see the Internet of Things) and this will see a change in the pattern of smartphone usage with notifications and monitoring as the two big areas that should accelerate in 2015.
Pebble introduced the first useable SmartWatch way back in 2012, and at a price point well under £100 there are lots of convenience reasons to adopt these emerging, low-cost, technologies. of course, Apple will bang out a multi-hundred pound device and it will probably have a crap battery life but no doubt it will sell in it’s millions this year.
Internet of Things
This is likely to be a more subtle, yet more useful, roll-out of Internet connected devices than the trendy explosion in wearables. There are good practical and cost-saving reasons to install internet-connected devices such as central-heating thermostats, security, lighting and other home-efficiency items.
However, the bigger picture is about connecting pretty much everything to the web to unify management and improve the efficiency of our lives. You only have to look at the number of IoT projects getting serious funding on KickStarter to see how big this segment is going to be.
The shift from mass-market promotion to individualised messaging and consumer personalisation has been waiting patiently in the wings for nearly a decade. Large organisations are slow to move in this space as the investment in technology and time to move away from traditional marketing and old-style CRM-systems is huge.
But the recession is over and the taps are being opened again to invest in a new way of communicating with consumers and clients. Expect to see lots of new automated marketing platforms and the rise of MaaS (marketing as a service) this year and next.
Innovative design has taken a bit of pasting in recent years, consumers ranked usability and function over how stuff looked and as the digital world struggled to come to terms with the transformation from “web-sites” to digital services then design dropped down the list.
There are a number of key initiatives appearing, such as Google’s Material Design, that’s trying to change this. New cleaner design frameworks offer a good balance between service usability and look / feel.
Expect to see greater uniformity in how digital services look yet stand-out with high-quality design flourishes as basic design becomes more programmatic so the real design effort can go into the detail.
Apple are also driving this with simpler design of mobile interfaces aswell as the mass de-cluttering of applications. Even Microsoft are getting in on the act and realising that complexity equals low-adoption and stripping out what’s not needed.
Sharing makes the world go round and organisations and people are getting this now and working together to drive adoption of everything from electric cars (Tesla releasing patents control entirely), internal work communication (new shared platforms such as Slack, Yammer and Podio) and consumer services such as Uber (Taxis), AirBNB (beds), Task Rabbit (chores), Zopa (lending), and BT Cloud (WiFi).
Legislation is the problem here, and often old patent rules get in the way of sharing information, technology and ideas in an open space without grubby licensing and copyrighting.
Most people don’t actually like their bank, or the archaic practices they seem to work to. As banks and credit card suppliers fail to innovate (whilst splurging on bonuses), they are ripe for massive disruption.
PayPal started this over 10 years ago but it’s strong link to eBay really hurt it as a credible payment system outside in the real world. This will change as eBay and PayPal de-tangle this year and we’ve already seen PayPal move into the commercial payment arena. ApplePay is also tipped to take a sizeable lump of the payment world, initially from consumers but don’t expect their ambitions to stop there.
Privacy and Security
As a society we’ve never been more aware of our privacy and the security of our and other data. The web has been open for too long with (what it seems) every link in the communication chain being harvested for valuable data on our habits and likes.
Google are driving much of this by tightening up on security and pretty much insisting that the world goes “https” (SSL/TLS is what it’s actually called). We’re also seeing Facebook and other social networks offering greater control over our own privacy.
This will happen fast and a company not running secure servers and robust privacy by the end of this year could find itself in hot water.