Changes in technology move faster than most of us can easily keep up but it’s important to be aware of upcoming trends that could fundamentally affect the way the world does business.
1. Responsive Design: Extra Screens: Tablets and Smartphones
No longer do we simply sit in front of one monitor, most people are now using smartphones while watching the telly, connecting to social media from a tablet, or texting on a smartphone while using a laptop. Recent research by Digitimes predicts global sales of tablets will grow 38.3 percent annually in 2013 to reach 210 million units.
Mobile sites are also now integral to SEO, and it is essential to ensure people can access your website no matter where they are. A responsive website design means you will maximise the potential of your reach and ensure your audience have the best viewing experience no matter what the context or device they use.
2. Personal Devices in the Workplace
Whether a smartphone, tablet, or good old-fashioned laptop, your employees are likely bringing their own devices to work. Often your staff will be upgrading faster than your IT team can keep up.
At first glance it seems like the obvious choice to allow your workers to use their personal devices rather than providing them with corporate-owned technology. However, the Wi Fi network you use in the office may not even allow personal devices to connect for reasons of security.
In terms of saving money, your workers may expect to be reimbursed and you can watch your savings fly out the window. If you have a very small business, you may see some savings. You may also benefit from better productivity, as your employees might be more likely to get some work done at home.
Privacy is always a concern when it comes to new technology trends. The internet has so far allowed users to remain anonymous in many situations, but that may be coming to an end.
An early indication is Google’s new plea to users to attach a real, full name to comments on YouTube. As we all know, anonymous comments can be truly vile and the trend to end anonymity is one way of bringing a stop to the abuse and bickering that goes on in online forums.
Social media also poses privacy and security issues for businesses as workers may accidentally post messages using corporate accounts. Also, with mobile use increasing there will be a rise in privacy issues with many smartphone applications having access to user data.
It will become vital to increase education on how to protect users online and what information third party sites have access to.
4. Augmented Reality
With the announcement of Google Glass earlier this year, one very important tech trend that is expected to keep growing is augmented reality. The glasses are a device the user wears which lets them check their messages, process information from their environment and record video, all whilst exploring the real world environment.
It has the potential to dramatically change the way consumers interact with businesses. Expect to see more developments and competitors emerging this year and more developments in 2014.
5. Micropayment Economy
The rise of sites that help entrepreneurs create, market and sell their products is expected to continue. Sites like RedBubble can take your design and create items like t-shirts, prints, and calendars, whilst sites like Lulu allow aspiring writers to self-publish and sell books.
The money you can make on these websites is small unless you create something overwhelmingly popular. However, they represent an important new aspect of the economy and one that will begin to compete with traditional manufacturers, publishers and retail stores.
6. 3D Printing
Printers that can produce three dimensional objects are going to become more prevalent in 2013 and with prices dropping for the printers, companies can make toys, machine parts, iPhone cases, and everything in between.
For example, companies like New Balance are adopting 3D printing to create hyper-customised track shoes. As it evolves and becomes more accessible this rapidly growing field of digital fabrication will dramatically change how products are manufactured.
7. Big Data and Analytics
The amount of data being generated and consumed throughout the world is staggering. Large corporations and big retailers such as Walmart and Amazon.com are taking advantage of it to increase revenue. While companies have been gathering it for years, they are only just starting to understand how to use it.
Collected data for targeted advertising is probably the biggest use, but it can also be used for better management decisions and allows marketers to narrow down their segmentation of customers.