Forget 2013. Is Your Company 2016-ready? (Part 1)

Forget 2013. Is Your Company 2016-ready? (Part 1)

Heather Dougherty

 

Now that we’ve all consumed our fair share of 2013 predictions—year of the tablet, RTB (real-time bidding) grows up, augmented reality goes mainstream, big data gets wrangled in, SoLoMo hits its stride, etc.—let’s take a step back … and look BEYOND.

After all, evaluating technology one year at a time is a losing battle, and companies should take note.

Let’s take a look at how we got here, what’s coming and what you need to be focusing on…

Consumers & Companies

Despite dramatic spikes in consumer adoption rates, companies continue to lag behind consumers in adapting. Many are still scrambling to catch up on mobile (while still busy getting in front of social), nevermind planning for the next big thing. In fact, according to Mongoosemetrics’ Mobile Readiness Study published in February 2012, which examined the top 1 million sites on Quantcast,

“… only 9% were deemed mobile ready. The rate of mobile readiness grew for websites in the top 100,000 of the Quantcast Top Million, but the increase was only to 14.8%.”

Yikes. Especially considering the steady increase of mobile searches over desktop searches and that consumer expectations rise along with their adoption rates.

It’s time to stop catching up and start catching ON. It’s a necessity, not a luxury, if you plan to stay relevant, competitive and, well…alive.

Let’s be honest…consumers, by definition, need only consume what’s provided them. Given the experience is tolerable (not even necessarily good), they show a great propensity for adoption, as long as there is value in doing so (utility, entertainment, efficiency). Companies have much more to contend with when addressing new technologies. Each advance impacts communication channels (outward-facing AND data wrangling), internal processes and human/capital resource planning—no small feats to say the least.

Regardless, technology will continue to outpace itself and the next big thing is no little challenge. The interface, like a small chick, is breaking free from the eggshell and will soon be device-free. What does your brand look like in this brave new world?

First, let’s look at the trends to-date and how they inform our future-state…

Current State

Technology has advanced at a dizzying clip over the last 20 to 30 years. Since the dawn of the personal computer, consumer adoption of new technologies has spiked in percentage and rapidity T-O-T (technology over technology).

If these stats are any indication of future adoption rates, I think we’re looking at the “next big thing” arriving closer to 2016 than 2020 (as more commonly predicted).

consumer technology adoption 1900-2005

Source: New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/02/10/opinion/10op.graphic.ready.html

 

Global Internet Device Sales 2000-2016

Source: Gartner, IDC, Strategy Analytics, Business Intelligence via http://www.nateriggs.com/disruptive-technology-adoption/

 

The result? An unsustainable level of fragmentation for consumers and companies alike. The sheer number of communication channels (and resulting data sources) is overwhelming. Keeping up with traditional digital communications (websites, email, etc.), the plethora of social sites and mountains of apps across multiple devices flies in the face of Dunbar’s Number saturation theory. This theory applies to social relationships specifically, but if people tap out at 100 social relationships, it stands to reason there’s a saturation level for interactions in general.

Clearly companies need to find a way to get in front of the advance and adoption trends. Recent indicators also point toward a desire to simplify on the consumer side. Everyone is trying to reign it in.

Convergence

The only reasonable future-state for both parties, in my opinion, is convergence – of devices, interactions and data.

There are several trends that support this theory:

  • The topic of social media fatigue pops up more frequently, especially amongst early adopters.
  • Online activities are increasingly shifting to mobile/tablet and the demand for multi-function devices is increasing, signaling a desire to consolidate activities into a single device.
  • App downloads are predicted to peak in 2013, but then begin to decline in 2014. However, app revenues are projected to skyrocket, indicating that the market has matured and people are getting more selective.
  • Consumers increasingly expect inter-connectivity between their technology touchpoints (devices and applications).
  • Social media sites continue to mimic and/or import each others’ functionality in an attempt to win marketshare and provide a single destination for social activity.
  • Companies are busy getting in front of streamlining, and subsequently leveraging, big data (multiple sources that don’t resolve against each other) in an effective manner. The bigger players are planning major system consolidation in 2013 to help facilitate this. The goal in all of this is not only to use this data to inform business improvements, but to deliver highly-customized experiences to customers.

What The Future Holds

  • Augmented Reality
    New developments in several supporting technologies have hopes raised that augmented reality will finally go mainstream in 2013. AR-equipped smartphones, GPS-enabled experiences connecting with niche mobile technologies like NFC and, the much-anticipated availability of THE GLASSES or <ahem> “wearable augmented reality devices” are the most tangible developments.
  • Haptic Technology
    Touch response technology has been around for decades. For early gamers, the physical sensation of hitting the “rumble strip” in video game, Pole Position, shows the early stages of this technology. It’s evolved significantly, and heavily informs human/touchscreen interactions. Its greatest promise is texture simulation and humanizing device-free interface interaction.
  • Device-free revolution
    Before Google Glass is even available to consumers, the Google team is already thinking beyond the device…with contact lens displays. Depending on how these products roll out, the lens may eclipse the glasses and take mankind one HUGE leap toward device-free interactive experiences. Projection interfaces have been popping up on the scene as well. Interactions mimic touchscreens, but the interface can be projected onto a multitude of surfaces…including human skin.
  • Real-time, Responsive, Personalized Everything! (App-nostic?)
    I don’t have a specific example of this, but I invite you to envision a not-so-distant future where big data has been wrangled and every interaction – active or passive – is smart, responsive and real-time.

Scenarios:

Your mirror records every outfit you wear and a holographic interface recommends wardrobe additions/replacements, based on your style, that you can virtually try on and subsequently purchase, on the spot – all within the course of getting dressed for work on a given day.

Your bed records your sleeping habits and automatically adjusts lights and alarm clocks as well as sending data to your shopping list and informing an AR overlay in your refrigerator to recommend food intake for the day. Ideally, robotics advance in pace and can pack your breakfast and lunch based on your bed monitor’s recommendations.

As demand grows for more integrated and streamlined computing interactions, the entire computing experience begins to focus more around activities – communicate, collect, document, produce, explore, shop, etc. – rather than specific applications.

Many of  these technologies already exist in some form, but are fragmented and not connected in an efficient way. It won’t take long before it’s all streamlined. Are you ready? Are you contributing?

What Companies Need to Ask

What frequently gets lost in discussing how to get in front of new technologies, are the logistics of getting there. It’s easy to say “X is coming”, but does anyone break it down and map out the logistical steps of actually getting there?

For instance, I downloaded a TV remote app for my iPhone 3G a few years ago. It didn’t work (or I couldn’t figure out how to GET it to work), so I abandoned it. Recently, the topic resurfaced in my home while reassessing our entertainment setup. I remembered the app I downloaded and thought, “well, it probably works better now.” This is a common experience in a world where technology moves at lightning speed, with decentralized app development rooted in a beta-to-beautiful rollout philosophy.

So, how does this apply to future tech-thinking for your company? While adoption overall may be rapid, there will be ebbs and flows of adoption, abandonment and rediscovery—especially as it pertains to large shifts in technology – such as device-free interfaces. There will be transitional periods where old technologies and new technologies are being used simultaneously. There are advantages to being on the scene early, even if you aren’t perfect, and advantages to waiting and learning from others’ mistakes. Which way to go depends largely on your brand, its values and the nature of your competition.

Here are some questions and considerations bouncing around my brain as I think about charting the course forward…

  • How will device-bound and device-free environments interact and/or overlap?
  • What will your audience migrate to device-free for first? What will they stick to device-bound for during the transition? What will they expect from you? How does this shape your plans and priorities?
  • What does making the transition mean for your company? Which digital properties/assets need to change and how (ex. – how would your website need to change to incorporate haptic technology or gesture-based nav?)
  • What can you learn from how people interact with touchscreens, audio commands and gesture-based interfaces (Kinect)?
  • What new communication/data channels, if any, will come into play? Which existing ones can go away or be phased out?
  • Removing devices solves part of the fragmentation. How do peoples’ needs around the actual experience change in response to a device-free world –where everything is ‘smart’, responsive and hyper-personalized? Will this drive toward more ‘app-nostic’ experiences that focus more on activity (i.e. – produce, record, collect, share, communicate, shop, etc.)

The above is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it helps get the wheels turning.

My main point is two-fold:

  1. Companies need to get in the habit of looking forward in an effort to be more forward-thinking and less reactionary. It needs to be part of their core process, not an afterthought.
  2. Continual explosion and expansion of technology is not sustainable from a consumption and support perspective. Focus and convergence are inevitable.

I am insanely curious about all of YOUR thoughts on the topic. Are you PROactive or REactive? Why? Can you change? How? Let’s get a discussion going because catching ON over catching UP is going to mean the survival of us all…sooner than later.

In the next installments, I’ll cover emerging trends and technologies in the retail and publishing industries specifically. There are some exciting shifts I’ll think you’ll find very interesting.

Read Part 2: Retail

 

Now that we’ve all consumed our fair share of 2013 predictions—year of the tablet, RTB (real-time bidding) grows up, augmented reality goes mainstream, big data gets wrangled in, SoLoMo hits its stride, etc.—let’s take a step back … and look BEYOND.

After all, evaluating technology one year at a time is a losing battle, and companies should take note.

Let’s take a look at how we got here, what’s coming and what you need to be focusing on…

Consumers & Companies

Despite dramatic spikes in consumer adoption rates, companies continue to lag behind consumers in adapting. Many are still scrambling to catch up on mobile (while still busy getting in front of social), nevermind planning for the next big thing. In fact, according to Mongoosemetrics’ Mobile Readiness Study published in February 2012, which examined the top 1 million sites on Quantcast,

“… only 9% were deemed mobile ready. The rate of mobile readiness grew for websites in the top 100,000 of the Quantcast Top Million, but the increase was only to 14.8%.”

Yikes. Especially considering the steady increase of mobile searches over desktop searches and that consumer expectations rise along with their adoption rates.

It’s time to stop catching up and start catching ON. It’s a necessity, not a luxury, if you plan to stay relevant, competitive and, well…alive.

Let’s be honest…consumers, by definition, need only consume what’s provided them. Given the experience is tolerable (not even necessarily good), they show a great propensity for adoption, as long as there is value in doing so (utility, entertainment, efficiency). Companies have much more to contend with when addressing new technologies. Each advance impacts communication channels (outward-facing AND data wrangling), internal processes and human/capital resource planning—no small feats to say the least.

Regardless, technology will continue to outpace itself and the next big thing is no little challenge. The interface, like a small chick, is breaking free from the eggshell and will soon be device-free. What does your brand look like in this brave new world?

First, let’s look at the trends to-date and how they inform our future-state…

Current State

Technology has advanced at a dizzying clip over the last 20 to 30 years. Since the dawn of the personal computer, consumer adoption of new technologies has spiked in percentage and rapidity T-O-T (technology over technology).

If these stats are any indication of future adoption rates, I think we’re looking at the “next big thing” arriving closer to 2016 than 2020 (as more commonly predicted).

consumer technology adoption 1900-2005

Source: New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/02/10/opinion/10op.graphic.ready.html

 

Global Internet Device Sales 2000-2016

Source: Gartner, IDC, Strategy Analytics, Business Intelligence via http://www.nateriggs.com/disruptive-technology-adoption/

 

The result? An unsustainable level of fragmentation for consumers and companies alike. The sheer number of communication channels (and resulting data sources) is overwhelming. Keeping up with traditional digital communications (websites, email, etc.), the plethora of social sites and mountains of apps across multiple devices flies in the face of Dunbar’s Number saturation theory. This theory applies to social relationships specifically, but if people tap out at 100 social relationships, it stands to reason there’s a saturation level for interactions in general.

Clearly companies need to find a way to get in front of the advance and adoption trends. Recent indicators also point toward a desire to simplify on the consumer side. Everyone is trying to reign it in.

Convergence

The only reasonable future-state for both parties, in my opinion, is convergence – of devices, interactions and data.

There are several trends that support this theory:

  • The topic of social media fatigue pops up more frequently, especially amongst early adopters.
  • Online activities are increasingly shifting to mobile/tablet and the demand for multi-function devices is increasing, signaling a desire to consolidate activities into a single device.
  • App downloads are predicted to peak in 2013, but then begin to decline in 2014. However, app revenues are projected to skyrocket, indicating that the market has matured and people are getting more selective.
  • Consumers increasingly expect inter-connectivity between their technology touchpoints (devices and applications).
  • Social media sites continue to mimic and/or import each others’ functionality in an attempt to win marketshare and provide a single destination for social activity.
  • Companies are busy getting in front of streamlining, and subsequently leveraging, big data (multiple sources that don’t resolve against each other) in an effective manner. The bigger players are planning major system consolidation in 2013 to help facilitate this. The goal in all of this is not only to use this data to inform business improvements, but to deliver highly-customized experiences to customers.

What The Future Holds

  • Augmented Reality
    New developments in several supporting technologies have hopes raised that augmented reality will finally go mainstream in 2013. AR-equipped smartphones, GPS-enabled experiences connecting with niche mobile technologies like NFC and, the much-anticipated availability of THE GLASSES or <ahem> “wearable augmented reality devices” are the most tangible developments.
  • Haptic Technology
    Touch response technology has been around for decades. For early gamers, the physical sensation of hitting the “rumble strip” in video game, Pole Position, shows the early stages of this technology. It’s evolved significantly, and heavily informs human/touchscreen interactions. Its greatest promise is texture simulation and humanizing device-free interface interaction.
  • Device-free revolution
    Before Google Glass is even available to consumers, the Google team is already thinking beyond the device…with contact lens displays. Depending on how these products roll out, the lens may eclipse the glasses and take mankind one HUGE leap toward device-free interactive experiences. Projection interfaces have been popping up on the scene as well. Interactions mimic touchscreens, but the interface can be projected onto a multitude of surfaces…including human skin.
  • Real-time, Responsive, Personalized Everything! (App-nostic?)
    I don’t have a specific example of this, but I invite you to envision a not-so-distant future where big data has been wrangled and every interaction – active or passive – is smart, responsive and real-time.

Scenarios:

Your mirror records every outfit you wear and a holographic interface recommends wardrobe additions/replacements, based on your style, that you can virtually try on and subsequently purchase, on the spot – all within the course of getting dressed for work on a given day.

Your bed records your sleeping habits and automatically adjusts lights and alarm clocks as well as sending data to your shopping list and informing an AR overlay in your refrigerator to recommend food intake for the day. Ideally, robotics advance in pace and can pack your breakfast and lunch based on your bed monitor’s recommendations.

As demand grows for more integrated and streamlined computing interactions, the entire computing experience begins to focus more around activities – communicate, collect, document, produce, explore, shop, etc. – rather than specific applications.

Many of  these technologies already exist in some form, but are fragmented and not connected in an efficient way. It won’t take long before it’s all streamlined. Are you ready? Are you contributing?

What Companies Need to Ask

What frequently gets lost in discussing how to get in front of new technologies, are the logistics of getting there. It’s easy to say “X is coming”, but does anyone break it down and map out the logistical steps of actually getting there?

For instance, I downloaded a TV remote app for my iPhone 3G a few years ago. It didn’t work (or I couldn’t figure out how to GET it to work), so I abandoned it. Recently, the topic resurfaced in my home while reassessing our entertainment setup. I remembered the app I downloaded and thought, “well, it probably works better now.” This is a common experience in a world where technology moves at lightning speed, with decentralized app development rooted in a beta-to-beautiful rollout philosophy.

So, how does this apply to future tech-thinking for your company? While adoption overall may be rapid, there will be ebbs and flows of adoption, abandonment and rediscovery—especially as it pertains to large shifts in technology – such as device-free interfaces. There will be transitional periods where old technologies and new technologies are being used simultaneously. There are advantages to being on the scene early, even if you aren’t perfect, and advantages to waiting and learning from others’ mistakes. Which way to go depends largely on your brand, its values and the nature of your competition.

Here are some questions and considerations bouncing around my brain as I think about charting the course forward…

  • How will device-bound and device-free environments interact and/or overlap?
  • What will your audience migrate to device-free for first? What will they stick to device-bound for during the transition? What will they expect from you? How does this shape your plans and priorities?
  • What does making the transition mean for your company? Which digital properties/assets need to change and how (ex. – how would your website need to change to incorporate haptic technology or gesture-based nav?)
  • What can you learn from how people interact with touchscreens, audio commands and gesture-based interfaces (Kinect)?
  • What new communication/data channels, if any, will come into play? Which existing ones can go away or be phased out?
  • Removing devices solves part of the fragmentation. How do peoples’ needs around the actual experience change in response to a device-free world –where everything is ‘smart’, responsive and hyper-personalized? Will this drive toward more ‘app-nostic’ experiences that focus more on activity (i.e. – produce, record, collect, share, communicate, shop, etc.)

The above is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it helps get the wheels turning.

My main point is two-fold:

  1. Companies need to get in the habit of looking forward in an effort to be more forward-thinking and less reactionary. It needs to be part of their core process, not an afterthought.
  2. Continual explosion and expansion of technology is not sustainable from a consumption and support perspective. Focus and convergence are inevitable.

I am insanely curious about all of YOUR thoughts on the topic. Are you PROactive or REactive? Why? Can you change? How? Let’s get a discussion going because catching ON over catching UP is going to mean the survival of us all…sooner than later.

In the next installments, I’ll cover emerging trends and technologies in the retail and publishing industries specifically. There are some exciting shifts I’ll think you’ll find very interesting.

Read Part 2: Retail

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