I’m a firm believer in not attempting to predict the future, I’d far rather try and make it happen through exploration, prototyping and invention – yet it is still useful to understand the trends and opportunities which seem to be approaching. Here are 8 things that I’m excited about exploring in 2013:
We’ve been through generations of personal digital publishing starting with websites and blogs offering longform posts about opinion and experience (“what have you done?”) to realtime short-form content like twitter and facebook (“what are you doing?”). With a multitude of social discovery tools like Foursquare Explore, the next phase of publishing may be “what are you going to do?”, or intention casting. The combination of diary planning, discovery, serendipity and social data allows interesting tools to plan what you’ll be doing next week, rather than just telling people what you’re doing right now. Dopplr was ahead of its time.
Quantified Self and Portfolio Platforms:
The continued growth in tools which log our every activity, whether it be food, sleep or exercise will continue to expand laterally, and we’ll start to see more portfolio platforms, with a more holistic view on our lives, rather than vertical attention to just one aspect. We’re already starting to see this with platforms like Fitbit and Withings, but it won’t be long until there is a platform which attempts to offer the single platform for managing your personal data streams, including your home’s energy efficiency, the number of rubbish bags you’ve thrown out, your shopping basket and exercise plan connected to work together and beyond.
Internet of everythings:
We’ll continue to see a wireless or Ethernet connection being added to more and more objects, allowing both remote connection but also more clever combination of content and data collected by these sensors, and output of smarter more ambiently useful data outputted through them. LittlePrinter is a great example of personal content through an IOT device, but their BERGCloud platform is the really interesting piece. Embedding a little bit of smart connectivity into the every-day device really excites me, and the connected home and ‘smart environments’ will have a significant impact upon how we interact with media and services.
Post Personal Computing:
This expansion of the Internet of Things will inevitably lead to ‘post personal computing’. As more and more devices and surfaces become connected, we will have dedicated interfaces to specific tasks available all around us, rather than generic and often skeuomorphic interfaces forced into an app. Logging into these public devices will be through a phone or ‘token’ which identifies us, and more and more of our content will live wholly in the cloud rather than on devices alone, making the phone and computer empty and easily shareable between users, with a personal experience delivered by ‘logging in’ with your mobile or identity device (like an oyster card). Google Chromebook is an early example of this.
Reinvention of money:
We’ve already started seeing heavy disruption in the US around the reinvention of money, but it seems to be slower on the uptake in the UK. 2013 feels like the platforms are moving into place in order to make more of an impact on the market – more retailers are supporting NFC payment, more brands are accepting mobile payments, more devices are integrating transactional capabilities. Across virtual currency, mobile payments, micropayments, cashless transaction, barter models, co-funding, gift economies and beyond, there’s a great deal of activity starting to rear its head.
Both organisationally and culturally, rapid, reactive and proactive invention is gaining traction, whether it be 3D printing or new agencies and start-ups prototyping in order to build upon opportunities and create new spaces for existing brands to move into. This will lead to more and more clients creating products and services which laterally extend their brand. Businesses like Deutsch LA’s new Inventioni.st team, R/GA’s move into services over campaigns and Carat’s own Craft team are helping businesses understand and explore media’s role as a service, not just a communication channel. Brands like Evian, exploring direct to consumer delivery and on-fridge ordering tools show how invention allows even a simple product to extend horizontally.
Further wisdom of crowds:
Invention with others through platforms like Kickstarter shows demand before supply, helping to test ideas and fund them with lower risk. Starbuck’s My Starbucks Idea is an early example of using customer input to change business output, but getting consumers to fund products and services before they exist might be a logical step for businesses, and help brands to create things that are actively desired or needed.
Bet on the future:
I’ve built a ‘bet on the future’ tool which allows anyone to make a prediction, and come back next year to see how accurate their predictions were. Sign up to make a prediction at predictabot.thinkplaymake.co and we’ll see who is the most on the money this time next year.
(I actually wrote this about six weeks ago, and my opinions have changed a fair bit. It just goes to show, you should probably focus on what’s right in-front of you and make things happen, rather than gazing too far into the future and waiting for others to do something which gets you excited).