It is always interesting at this point in the year to take a look back twelve months at what was predicted to happen this year and how much of it actually did. You can cut out all the vendor predictions (they will all predict the rise of their own tech) and anything from anyone whose profile has the words guru, visionary or evangelist in it. That makes the job far more manageable. Last year it was all about wearables, drones and smart cities. There is no question all of these featured – at differing levels of maturity.
This year I will (as usual) add my own voice to those adding their two pennies worth. I also have a few thoughts about things I really don’t expect to see – at least not yet:
1. Digital disruption goes up a level in the business
Up until this point digital tech and digital platforms have been disrupting the way businesses operate but now we are starting to see them disrupting business itself. What do I mean by this? I have written more than once about the idea that software is eating the world and that tech is now the driving force behind the businesses being created rather than the other way round. Gartner has even gone as far as to predict that we will start to see businesses essentially being created by machines. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2014/10/09/gartner-predicts-top-trends-for-technology-it-organizations-and-consumers-for-2015-and-beyond/). If you are in business today this trend may be the biggest threat to your future. When you look at the speed with which companies like Uber and AirBnB have impacted the travel industry it is quite terrifying. If that kind of disruption hasn’t been felt in your industry then chances are you are next!
2. From new products to new experiences
The shift from product innovation to experience innovation is something that I think has been happening gradually over the last three years but this year I think it will become the biggest driver within companies across industry sectors fuelled by customer expectations and the analysis of customer data within business and IT. That is not to say that there won’t be new products – there will always be new products – but there has been a major change in the way that organisations approach the idea of new products and how to develop the total experience from initial introduction through to on-going usage. These days many organisations, including those in traditionally quite conservative sectors (such as finance) consider investment in improving the customer experience as (if not more) important than product development. UX (user experience) design has become a critical piece of the innovation mix but it is also about the complete service design and companies realise that in a world awash with product it’s the companies that deliver a good experience that customers stick with.
3. Smartphones will get smarter
2015 is going to mark a major change in the way we use our smartphones. Up until this point they have been largely passive devices. We access them for information, connectivity and engagement. Now however, thanks to the rise of predictive analytics and technology that truly ‘learns’ smartphones will become far more proactive. Notifications might actually become useful (http://www.fastcompany.com/3036084/technovore/your-smartphones-getting-smarter) and smartphones will become part personal PA (something Microsoft is already claiming their latest offering is) and part guide. I am looking forward to that gentle reminder from my phone that I have exceeded my recommended alcohol intake for the week…
So for what it’s worth those are my top three tech trends for this year. Now on to a few things that I personally am not going to get over excited about…
I am quite sure that the drone will have its place. Perhaps the end is nigh for the postman (eventually) but I strongly suspect that the combination of air traffic control and the anti-terrorism police will put some pretty firm constraints on how, when and why they are used at least for the foreseeable future.
2. Demise of traditional enterprise technology
I am a pretty strong advocate of businesses taking a non-traditional approach to tech but those that are proclaiming the end for the traditional enterprise tech company are probably underestimating their ability to reinvent themselves (think Microsoft and Cisco) and over estimating the desire for change within the enterprise. Frankly I wish corporate IT leaders were a little braver but, although the movement for change is growing, I am pretty sure the Oracles, SAPs and EMCs of this world are going to survive the next 12 months.
3. Healthcare tech
The wearables hype revolution is upon us but the idea that we are all mad keen on the idea of covering ourselves in gadgets constantly telling us how unhealthy we are is quite frankly ridiculous. Ignorance is bliss as far as I am concerned. Healthcare wearables just report different metrics with no interpretation, no advice. The adoption will take off when devices use data streams to create more valuable actionable insights, eg why am I not sleeping well and waking during the night? Drinking too much?
4. Wearable Technology
2015 will not be the year of the wearables even if Apple finally ships the iWatch. This was evident at The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in early January where I expected the transformation from prototypes to a quantifiable consumer category filled with actual working products. Instead there were just more companies with a lot of different ideas about what it would take to make a breakout wearable. It may take Apple to once again create the momentum in the category with a successful product but the apps will not yet provide compelling consumer experiences.