2010: How did I do?

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About this time last year I wrote my 2010 predictions on technology, media, consumer behaviour and online:

I see 2010 as a time when more people start thinking about how we deal with the trust-based issues that social media throws up… We need to think about the implications for etiquette, ethics and what will be the new social norms that we have to deal with.

This is very much a work in progress (at least in the UK); where the NHS feels that it is acceptable to leak information about an audience’s health concerns with Facebook and politician Nadine Dorries felt it was perfectly acceptable to lie to constituents at least 70 per cent of the time on their social media platform

From a government perspective all this self-organising power can be dangerous: people getting together and standing up to authority – we’ve seen it before:

  • Climate–change protestors
  • Poll tax riots
  • Illegal raves

Each time, the government has brought resources and legislation to bear against them. I expect this to be at least considered in the next year.

Well beyond shilling for the media industry with the Digital Economy Bill and the coalition government’s proposals against net neutrality to favour News Corporation prominent UK media companies, there was the Crown Prosecution Service and police’ increasingly hard stance with everything from jokey Twitter users to websites. More interestingly comes a request for Nominet to provide a mechanism that would allow police to close down sites by taking control of domains at will.

The UK will still have analogue intellectual property laws for an increasingly digital world, I don’t see a dramatic change to correct this coming anytime soon.

Jeremy Hunt confirmed that the government was going to leave the Digital Economy Act intact. However TalkTalk and BT’s requested judicial review may temper some of the more draconian parts of the Act.

Social media will no longer be special but part of the normal mix.

There was discussions at the open panels I attended at the JUMP conference about dropping the ‘social’ from social media as it is not anything special, but the glue that binds all the marketing communications and business communications processes together.

Changes in marketing spend will come partly at the expense of search advertising.

Google’s growth is slowing in search advertising and flattened in some markets. I think that this is why Google’s prediction that mobile is the next big thing and the big investment in Android. For a long time there has been a theoretical ceiling for Google’s earnings that include the following factors:

  • Maximum cost of acquisition that a company is willing to pay for a customer – this varies business-by-business
  • Maximum number of businesses that can benefit from search advertising. Your local 7-Eleven relies on impulse purchases so Google Adwords even on local search or mobile apps may not make a lot of sense. Other businesses maybe regulated out of it, or search may not fit into a brand’s profile
  • Number of markets that Google operates in. Google’s new frontier is barely online continent of Africa

So it was no surprise that Google has set up a wealth of ventures to try and continue to grow. However the culling of these ventures and relentless focus on earnings indicate that Google is maturing as a business. Part of this is down to the fact that Facebook is now serving 25 per cent of display adverts in North America. Coupon services like GroupOn are probably eating into local search advertising budgets as well.

The good news for the search engines is that consumers are much more open to a curated web via friends and authorative individuals, many of the concepts of social search will be ready for an early majority audience in 2010.

What really wrong-footed me on this one is that I thought services like Hunch and Quora would come from the search engine companies, that this maybe the ace-in-the-hole Yahoo! may have had to reinvent search, which is the reason why they gave the algorithmic side of the business away? I didn’t expect Caterina Fake come back and put a new spin on the social search work that was happening at Yahoo! when she was there. It’s early days on this but Gifts.com seems to find Hunch’s work with them is delivering real commercial returns. Quora feels like the kind of product that Yahoo! Answers should have been, it will be interesting to see how they monetise the product in the future.

I expect there to be an increase in social media rightshoring.

Rightshoring didn’t take off in the way that I thought it might in 2010, this is maybe because of the recession has made the UK more viable, at least for the time being.

Social media will be looked at to provide solutions to problems that businesses continue to wrestle with: from knowledge management to customer relationships and workflow.

Altimeter Group has been doing a lot of work wrestling with the implications of social CRM as part of this process of using social media to solve business problems.

One of the break out trends for 2009 was ‘the web of no web’ where a mix of QR codes and augmented reality allow consumers to interact with the real world with online information. This has a huge potential, but there are two key challenges, the most dangerous one being that someone comes up with a creative execution so bad that consumers reject the ‘web of no web’ concept.

The web of no web has broken out in a couple of new directions in 2010. Firstly a much more serious focus on location with this year’s star Foursquare and the hangers on like SCVNGR and Gowalla. This isn’t a new area per se location has been incorporated into Twitter for a while and Yahoo!’s ZoneTag and FireEagle were doing this years ago, but failed to get sufficient traction. From a business perspective this has been partly driven by the coupon market as online and offline businesses discount to get consumers through the door – thank you financial crisis.

A secondary aspect of these applications is that they are less draining on a battery than the AR stuff getting heat last year. Barcodes rather than QRcodes may make the biggest impact yet as ‘augmented retailing’ takes off, it is no coincidence that the latest eBay and Amazon US iPhone apps include a barcode scanning function to allow real-time real-world price comparison. What did 2010 in tech mean to you?


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