I am uncharacteristically optimistic about the coming year–at least as it relates to my primary focus of technology’s impact on business and life. I am influenced by two major trends, the first is the pervasion of the contextual technologies that Robert Scoble and I wrote about in our recent book, Age of Context. The second is the rapidly evolving movement that is being called the Sharing Economy or the Collaborative Economy.
Here are a few trends that I see taking shape. Most is a cause for enthusiasm, or so it seems to me. One is a cause for concern. I would advise you to take these with a grain of salt. The future always surprises us.
But people like me remain foolish enough to take such guesses and share them in oublic.
1. Marketing will become more effective and less intrusive.
For the first time in more than a decade, perceptions of marketing and communications professionals will improve, albeit, slightly. Simultaneously, favorable response to marketing messages will become far more effective when new practices are built upon new mobile, sensor, location, and data technologies.
In our book, we introduced a new term, Pinpoint Marketing, which uses contextual technologies to allow merchants and marketers to know who you are, where where you are and what your intent is likely to be–and to send you offers and invitations highly targeted to whatever
The improvement will be spearheaded by a small handful of forward-thinking professionals who focus marketing on relationships rather than transactions and understand that intrusive tactics damage relationships and are becoming increasingly less effective as people and technology get better at filtering them out.
The ability to pinpoint messages is turbocharged by mobile technologies. In the past, this only mattered when transactions were made online. But now, technology is improving the ability to market to people as they shop or stroll about the real world.
Response rates will improve from today’s two-to-three percent to well over 50 percent. Even when offers are not used, they will not annoy the recipients.
Consumers will actually enjoy getting most Pinpoint messages and special offers, which will be based on what they are looking at in a store window, or because it’s cold and a coffee shop is offering a special on hot chocolate, which will be sent to their smartphone as they approach its front door.
2. Millions of people will become fitter and healthier.
In 2014, technology will continue to achieve what traditional healthcare fails to achieve. More people will use devices like Fitbit and Nike Fuelband to monitor their activities and thus be motivated to get more fit. Contextual services like Keas are currently helping companies like Microsoft to motivate employee teams who compete to become healthier.
Sensors are being used in jewelry, lanyards, and tattoos to monitor the location and body functions of people with Alzheimer’s or who are quadriplegics. A company called Ekso Bionics is making robotic devices that attach to paralyzed people, enabling them to walk. Propeller Health undefined is using location technologies and sensors to help Asthma sufferers breathe easier.
There are hundreds of new mobile apps and sensor technologies coming to market that allow people to help themselves become healthier. Some dedicated doctors have joined the movement, which started a few years back with the Quantified Self Movement[LINK]. Though it remains mostly the purview of the statistically obsessed, in 2013 it was embraced by an escalating number of patients, entrepreneurs, employers and even medical practitioners.
I call this movement Bottom-Up Health, and I predict it will go mainstream in 2014. In short, in the coming year more people will get healthier and more people with chronic conditions will be empowered to enjoy life better.
3. More people and businesses will profit by sharing.
It’s being called the Collaborative Economy and the Sharing Economy, among other things. It is the general concept that in a world of constrained resources, more people and businesses will share the resources they do have, eliminating inefficiencies and improving revenues.
This new online-enabled Sharing Economy will allow some organizations and individuals to preserve the assets they have and others to be able to use those assets, for a fee.
This is already a huge trend. The big change is that in 2014, many of the world’s largest brands will embraced Sharing Economy practices. They will do it with new practices of their own and by partnering with innovative startups. They will not be taking these steps as a demonstration of goodwill, so much a desire to become more efficient and profitable during continuing times of constraint in economics and global resources.
This may be the biggest trend of 2014.
4. The privacy issue will get more complex.
In my view, the biggest danger to the new contextual age is the loss of privacy. I believe many companies will follow Google’s lead and share what they know about their customers with those customers. Some will allow them to correct information that is outdated or just wrong.[/entity]
Unfortunately, I have no reason to believe that the US government will become less Orwellian in its practices. The NSA, most people believe, is running off the tracks. The FISA Court [LINK]will continue to make decisions in darkened chambers where those suspected of wrongdoing are not even made aware they are being investigated.
Companies who value customer trust like Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo will do their best to fight back, but I am not very hopeful that private citizens will be able to avoid secret scrutiny next year any more than they were last year. Highly regulated companies such as phone carriers will continue to serve government interests rather than those of their customers.
5. Trust will emerge as a global currency.
Converging factors such as the Sharing Economy and data collecting, will lead people to do business with other entities that they believe they can trust, based on the strength of their online presence and reputation.
This will be an incentive for people and businesses to behave in trustworthy ways. Government—at least on the Federal level—will remain another story.
Source: Forbes Business