Each past decade had highlights or lowlights that made it memorable. I wanted to get an idea of what the 2010’s will bring, so I asked a group of early adopters who, by their nature, are ahead of the curve.
Let’s Review the Decades
The 1980’s led off with PacMan in the arcades, Cabbage Patch dolls for the holidays (and the riots of trying to get one), the BeeGee’s Night Fever from Saturday Night Fever and personal computers were introduced by IBM.
The 1990’s saw the Iron Curtain fall, a wider adoption of the computers and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock and Roll”. Phones started moving into cars in larger numbers and Internet usage went mainstream.
So far, this decade, music became portable, the Internet continued to move to mobile devices and Broadway musicals turned into films (again). U2’s “Beautiful Day”, September 11th, our involvement in wars on several fronts and elections of historic proportions all set the stage for what is yet to come.
I’m sorry for missing the events that you feel important, but history has become personal.
Early Adopters Say…
To predict the future, I turned to friends who are early adopters. They spot trends and ride them. They range from CEOs and CMOs to PR people, professors and journalists. They are among the people I communicate with on the social networking site, Twitter.
Several of them corrected me: The 1980’s were the Internet years and the 90s were mobile years. I told you they were early adopters.
The 2010’s will be known for, among other things, the mainstream use of social media and changes in mobile technologies and abilities.
Social media is, as described by Chicago-based social media analyst Liz Strauss, “…practices, technology, tools, and online sites that are based in social relationships, participation, and user-generated content.” Twitter, FriendFeed, MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn all fit here, but each can be said to be in its infancy.
Social media sites are already having effects on opinion and buying. Look at the recent “mommy Motrin” PR headache.
If you missed this, a Motrin ad suggested, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, that it was not good for a mother’s back to carry a baby in a carry pack. Twitter results caused an instant tidal wave that splashed to YouTube, and forced Motrin to pull their web site – the whole Motrin.com site – down for about 24 hours. The New York Times and other papers had stories running by Monday.
AdAge, the web site of the advertising industry even covered it as a case study “Crashing Motrin-gate.” “By the following Sunday,” the report said, “the Motrin ad controversy was generating as many as 300 tweets [comments on Twitter] an hour, according to TrendRR.com.”
Watching companies underestimate and misuse social media is like watching early television commercials done by people who didn’t know enough to look into the camera. The key elements are to listen and respond. People BUY from web sites; they want to have conversations, share knowledge and experiences on social sites.
There are also a lot of things being done right. Zappos, NewEgg, and other retailers are allowing their customers to write their own content and share their opinions. As they grow their community, they can be more responsive to their customers. Do they have to accept negative comments? Yes. That decision translates into better stock positions, more competitive price-points, better targeted ads, lower support costs and ultimately more profits.
Twitter users commented on the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, from the beginning. They linked to web sites with more details than ever seen here on most US networks.
The future is here among the early adopters, but there is a lot of evolution yet to go. Over the next decade, I expect to see more text and media converge in both social media platforms and in the workplace. The type of visuals used today in video games and online games like “World of Warcraft” could make their way to the workplace. Navigating a visual metaphor can be easier than an all-text environment and allow for many different possibilities.
The limiting factors will be the bandwidth, battery life, security and processing speed of our mobile devices. After all, we want our best resources available to us wherever we go.
New Era in Communications. Maybe.
November 4th, Election Day, could be memorable for more than just the Obama victory. It could open the door to disrupt the mobile communications market as we know it. It could be for the better, but perhaps not.
That was the day that the Federal Communications Commission opened up the “white space” frequencies – the radio frequencies between television stations – to other wireless devices. If this ruling stands, it will likely interfere with wireless microphones and host of other devices.
The action, seemingly done without the traditional public input sessions will trigger a whole new grouping of wireless devices. The big potential winners include Microsoft, Intel, Dell, and Google who, according to ars technica, submitted a device to the FCC for approval. The potential losers include all existing wireless carriers.
These predictions indicate that our history will likely become both personal and collaborative, and potentially very empowering.