With the launch of the new Apple Watch flooding our social media feeds with images of glossy, polished wristwear, it's clear that technology is as ubiquitous to our social lives as friends and family. We've looked at 10 trends which show the blurring of lines between man and machine and it's potential impact for business.
TREND 1: We're entering the internet of everything
There are tiny, low cost sensors being embedded into eveything. From chairs, tools and clothes to wriststraps, doors and toys. With the sensor world now intact, you get new and smart ways of rethinking activities we do in everyday life. There is a company called Nest that creates a thermostat and it can be programmed to work out what the temperature preferences are for each member of the household - whenever they walk into a room. All because of the sensors.
Another example, is Teddy the Guardian. This is a soft, cuddly toy and is full of sensors that can track how the user is feeling and what their vital signs are - and this data can then be sent your smartphone. New business models and engaging with new technology - companies are enpowering this and this will affect all businesses, often in ways we cannot predict.
TREND 2: Smartphones are the world's remote control
We have to understand that smartphones are increasingly becoming the remote control to everything; according to a study, we engage with our phones 150 times a day! This is everything from using the alarm in the morning to checking social media on the go. This is 150 times that your customer is not engaging with you and your business!
With 1.5 billion smartphone users (at the end of 2014) and the technology changing with these devices, you need to adapt quickly. It's important that you offer your service mobile first and not web first.
TREND 3: We are wearing the internet
Companies are investing in wearable technology, but does it feel intuative? With Google Glass offering great perks such as taking high resolution photos instantly and being able to watch video in front of you, it's revolutionary. However, would you feel comfortable wearing something like this? For wearable technology to succeed and leave an impact, it has to be seamless and friction-free. It has to blend in with everyday life and the activities we do.
TREND 4: Hardware is the new software
Since the arrival of Kickstarter, you can now take any idea to the world and if the crowd love it - they'll buy into it. The most successful Kickstarter campaign was for the Pebble Smartwatch which initially only needed $100,000 to go into production... they raised $10,266.844!
Their team consisted of 5 developers - compare that to those at Apple and Samsung, this is changing the rules.
TREND 5: Meet your robot overlords
We're now in a world where we are seeing low cost robots in all sorts of working fields such as car manufacturing and food factories. The introduction of drones to consumers means that the skies are 'free to use', they can no longer be patrolled or policed. Whilst this was getting coverage, several people pitched ideas to use the drones as a business model for delivering fast food! Google recently acquired Boston Dynamics, a robotics design company that creates humanoid robots, could these be the future workforce?
TREND 6: Power has been radically redistributed
With companies and commmunities becoming open sourced and peer to peer focused, one must be intrigued and ask 'what can't they do?'
With the rise of YouTube intact, if you're a television production company, what do you do when the talent has the ability to create their own channel and broadcast? Michelle Phan is a popular YouTuber who produces 'how to' videos for different styles of make-up e.g. how to get the Lady Gaga look. As of 2014, she has had 650 million views, 360,000 fans subscribe to her $10/month home delivery service and has a $2m a year turnover.
TREND 7: There is no "e" in commerce
There used to be this sense that online and offline commerce were two different things. However, today they are both coming together. It's vital that your online and offline experiences are the same, it's about how people will discover you and rethinking the customer service rather than forceful selling.
Morgan Stanley suggests that the ecommerce market currently stands at 6.5%, and by 2016 it will be 9.6%. Get rid of the barriers, do A/B testing and make it easier for people to share on their social networks. When you do that, you may find people will spend more!
TREND 8: Data is your friend
With all this data being collected, what do you do with it? You need to optimise for the user so that their journey can continue without being interrupted. Utilise features such as recommendations and wishlists to engage with your user's experiences.
TREND 9: Old business models won't work
In the old world, you would release a product or service and people would buy it or not. Now, you'll find that you're giving things away and creating 'super' fans. For example, you may start off with a free ebook and then offer a paid workshop. People are paying for access rather than ownership, so experiment to see how much people love your product. Build a community, sell the experience!
TREND 10: Disrupt before you're disrupted
You cannot predict how people will use technology but you can think of what products will engage them. People will pay if the service is there and available. A notable example is Kodak, who for many years still sold film and film cameras even though the digital era was intact. They went bankrupt and Instagram then offered a service that embraced digital photography but offered filters that gave it that 'filmic look'. This is a company that had 13 employees compared to Kodak's 13,000.
So what do you envisage for your workplace over the next 5 years? Could the science fiction of films like Minority Report, Blade Runner, Metropolis and Total Recall become a reality, sooner than we think?