As always December is a good month to find opinions being shared on what 2015 will bring in terms of technology trends. My good intentions are always to commit my thoughts to writing early in the month. Typically each year I fail to act and reach the middle of January before sitting down to write. This year I aim to break the trend! However, my other firm resolve to get the Christmas cards into the post early has once again proved fruitless.
I think 2014 was the year in which the “drive to a digital world” really gathered pace and became all pervasive. How that digital content is being consumed is key and many analysts are arguing that more time is being spent consuming data via mobile applications than via the web. A good articulation of this argument has been made by Benedict Evans in his post entitled “Mobile Is Eating The World”. It seems that the drive to a digital world and mobile devices are completely intertwined. It is clear that success in 2015 in virtually all business spheres will depend on how adeptly companies continue to adapt their business model and offerings to the digital world.
The expectation that services can be consumed at the total convenience of the customer is now deeply embedded, certainly in the societies of the G20 countries and arguably globally. That “anytime, anyplace, anywhere” mantra (yes I am old enough to remember the famous Martini advert!) is conditioned I think by the importance of brand recognition, context and trust. It seems to me that people are becoming slowly more aware of the risks of the digital world, particularly the ability to trust content and to rely on privacy for data and identity. A Forrester analyst Heidi Shey recently blogged that “Today, about a third of security decision-makers in North America and Europe view privacy as a competitive differentiator. Forrester expects to see half of enterprises share this sentiment by the end of 2015”. The detail of the research is behind the Forrester pay-wall but the summary is worth a read.
Clearly to enable the hyper-connected digital world we will need to see the underlying infrastructure continue to evolve at an ever increasing pace. I think the argument that the digital world is made real through an ever growing population of devices and sensors combining to enable contextual data consumption is right. A very persuasive summary of this argument was given by Satya Nadella back in March 2014 early in his tenure at Microsoft in his “Mobile first, Cloud first” strategy messaging. The Internet of Things (IoT) concept will become ever more real and valuable in 2015. It will require underlying cloud based services to enable the collection, collation and presentation back in a value adding form and context. The rapid proliferation of wearables technology is just one visible sign of the devices landscape that will enable the digital world and realise the IoT promise. The sheer number of mobile phones (often quoted as being over 7 billion now in use) with the “there is an app for that” assumption is bringing the connected digital world into the consumer mainstream ever more quickly.
We are all now expecting that the different data units required to enable a transaction or consumer experience to take place will be seamlessly collated and enacted. The initial “wow that is clever” reaction to data being combined to enable something that was once slow and painful to execute will increasingly be replaced by impatience and frustration if it is not so. I tried to explain to someone the other day how hard it used to be to renew car road tax as opposed to the online seamless checking of the various key components required for validation delivered by the DVLA website. I felt ancient!
So in short I see 2015 as the year where the IoT concept becomes visible to the mainstream. It will be the year where the difference between a strong digitisation strategy and an average one will translate to material competitive advantage. It will be the year where brands that demonstrate the quality of their content and deliver a superb customer experience combined with an appropriate contextualised respect for data and identity privacy will win.
All very exciting might be your reaction, but what does that mean for those of us in the technology sector then?