It’s time to look into my quartz-crystal ball and see the hot trends for the New Year – and what may fall by the wayside.
Social media will be the game-changer of 2009.
Businesses will continue to migrate from talking at customers (advertisements) to engaging their customers. Comcast, Southwest, Zappos and JetBlue are among the leaders, learning about good and bad customer experiences. They are also getting new ideas from customers who are building a personal loyalty with the company who are reaching out to them.
Twitter and FriendFeed are among the top platforms. Twitter has my personal attention. It is based on one question: What are you doing? Answers or “tweets” have a 140 character limit. Brevity is a plus. The open source platform makes it easy for others to make useful applications that extend Twitter’s usefulness. FriendFeed goes beyond text and integrates other media, Twitter and content from another 47 services. Both are different than Facebook and MySpace, and especially Twitter seems to have gained traction with business users. With marketing budgets getting slashed, many may try social media – until they get it right.
Companies who miss the importance of the social media ship may actually risk the same fate as companies who thought the Internet was a fad. That sounds extreme, but over half the nation is already on a social network. They upload photos and videos or share shopping reviews. Customers are changing how they want companies to interact with them. The more that happens, the more companies will be left in the dust.
Mobile products will shake up 2009 change.
Software, hardware and services will grow up a lot in the next 12 months.
The US has been behind much of the world in cell phone technology for a while. However, new applications and increased abilities of the RIM Blackberry line, the iPhone and the Google Android will do a lot to moving our desktop to our pocket.
Strategic analysis company The Kelsey Group reports that nearly 45% of U.S. Mobile users will want better internet access on their next cell phone.
“The combination of unlimited data plans and next-generation Internet-enabled mobile devices, like Apple’s iPhone, suggests mobile Web access will grow to become ubiquitous,” said Matt Booth, senior vice president and program director of Interactive Local Media at The Kelsey Group. “Growing mobile Internet usage and increased satisfaction with mobile Internet applications are among the converging factors that we believe point to a breakthrough year ahead for mobile ad adoption.”
Applications written for the more popular phones including social media applications, Google and Yahoo mobile search with maps, shopping and a lot more is getting pretty impressive. To quote Ol’ Blue Eyes, “The Best is Yet to Come”.
Search is changing. Again.
Sure, as the de facto search engine, we’ve made Google both a verb and a noun. But there is a crop of new and some very interesting search tools.
AllTop bills themselves as an “online magazine rack of popular topics.” Sounds hokey, but it works. And there are people making sure the sources are not only good but among the best available.
AllofMe, currently in public beta, searches events by timeline. AllofMe allows you to add your own timelines from social media sites, or just enter content. The U.S. history and IMDB timelines are among my favorites.
Video and audio is now able to be indexed by the words spoken in the YouTube or similar post by Everyzing. Engines like these have been in some TV network newsrooms for the last few years. Now, they are going mainstream.
Do I expect Google to take this lying down? No. But it does make things interesting!
Computing will grow into the Cloud.
Cloud computing refers to software as web-based services. The “Cloud” is a metaphor for the internet. The SaaS (Software as a Service) can be Google Apps, Zoho office applications or Salesforce. Each allows you to connect to powerful web, office or customer relationship management applications without any software on your computer. Plus, you can access your content from any web-connected computer.
Expect more growth and more powerful applications in this segment. Many offering may combine free applications with some pay-for modules.
Now let me take out my blogger’s dark cloth of warning. It’s like Linus’s blanket, only mine is not real. And if these shadows are not altered, the future may be grim.
The economic downturn means leaving some things until later. Sometimes, it is just the wrong things left to “rot.” (Sorry, it did have to be the “anti-hot.”)
If the past is any predictor, expect some companies to kick security to the side. There may be fewer people to perform upgrades, and I hope I am wrong about this. The result will be some horror stories.
Web content is another area that some companies cut. “Let’s use the marketing print content on the web.” Wrong. People use web and print content much, MUCH differently. If it wasn’t true, why did so many companies have to rewrite support content until customers would use it?
Sure it’s early, but happy “holidaze” to you and yours!
Wayne Kurtzman is a senior marketing analyst who loves the shiny toys of technology and online communities. He has led knowledge management and web analytics practices for startups and larger companies including Intel. Wayne also is active at the international level of Destination ImagiNation, a not-for-profit organization that fosters teamwork, innovation and creative problem solving skills in students from kindergarten through college.