2014: just where is it all going?

You can read about how I got on last year here. This year’s predictions in no particular order:

Amazon won’t do drone delivery in 2014 –  The reasons for this are many. Drones are limited by payload, to ability to land, the amount of energy they can hold for flight time and piloting. It is no small feat to fly a single drone let alone a parcel carrying fleet of them. Secondly, what do you do if the recipient isn’t at the landing zone? And we haven’t addressed ill-defined regulatory issues.

Small data – at the end of last year I ended up speaking to a retailer who wanted to do something with their customer database. Looking at it was underwhelming. Just over 200 customer records with only a fraction of them having email addresses. This was an extreme example, a large part of their problem was that data acquisition was done through the till, whilst customers would be paying for goods. Retail staff would then be torn between dealing with customer queues and trying to capture customer data.  Hadoop is now bandied around like it is a common tool when in reality it only benefits the largest data sets. 2014 could benefit from a renewed focus on delivering value by sorting out the small data first.

Offline to online integration – companies like cini.me, Verifone and Brightmove media for cinema and taxi advertising respectively are symptomatic of a wider move that integrates online and offline media. The holy grail would be a multi-channel customer journey with correct levels of attribution of sales. We are starting to get there with the right context data sets: location-based weather forecasts, geo-fencing and Apple’s iBeacon

Algorithmic display advertising – Greater cross-media integration would require a greater degree of sophistication in media buying, moving towards algorithm-driven purchases within a real-time scenario. The challenges will be in ensuring artwork is appropriate, rendering formats, transmission; building algorithmic models themselves and demonstrating advertising effectiveness sufficiently well.

Mobile display advertising gets a radical reduction in formats – I had been looking at the different advertising options on mobile platforms and page takeovers seemed to make the most sense, which begged the question why have other inventory options. I suspect that other advertisers may take a similar stance.

Content marketing on OTT platforms – at the moment OTT platforms like WeChat are used predominantly as electronic direct marketing pushing out regular promotions or coupons to the audience. But the platforms also the opportunity to measure the impact of storytelling by weaving the platform into a multi-channel programme alongside video and websites. For the right brands special edition stickers offer an opportunity as well.

Chinese technology brands will finally be successful outside China – Xiaomi’s vertically integrated model of hardware, software and services is looking to expand outside of China to reach a larger Southeast Asian audience. CyanogenMod-based smartphones provide other manufacturers to follow a similar model. Oppo’s N1 was recently launched CyanogenMod edition phone gained Google certification, paving the way for other integrated offering like Xiaomi, so expect software and service innovation.   Tencent’s WeChat will break through, based firstly on foreign brands looking to engage with Chinese consumers within and outside the country – expect a bridgehead to be built by the hospitality industry.

Privacy issues won’t change much with consumers – Whilst legislators may wring their hands and engineers build new products consumers won’t do much mainly because of inertia and a sense that it’s just way things are. Don’t believe me? Case in point, how many people do you know have moved their bank account, despite the UK government legislating that can now be done with just one form?

Technology company workers are the new bankers – protests in Oakland over Google commuter buses, technology sites giving Hello-esque coverage of staff canteens and luxury office and East London warping into something similar to Notting Hill a couple of decades ago, coupled with a growing army of working poor is going to create a heady mix of jealousy and the inevitable backlash similar to the student bashing that used to go on in Leeds. Expect some Hoxton twits to get twatted.

The rise of immersion – From the Oculus Rift glasses to a creative agency in Argentina using haptic technology to allow fathers to share with mothers how their child is developing as part of a marketing campaign for a babycare brand – immersive technologies are once more on the ascendancy for the first time since the mid-1990s.

Machine learning will threaten to disrupt programming – The current most popular computer science course at Stanford is machine learning, Qualcomm is looking to make machine learning based processors in 2014, this will disrupt computer programming and the schemas created by programmers across a wide range of applications from enterprise processes and workflows to consumer services like search. Whilst this won’t develop commercial applications in anger in 2014, developers may start to develop distinctly luddite tendencies.

A race to the bottom will bring out hyper-competition in mobile semiconductor suppliers – players like Qualcomm will come under price pressure from the likes of MediaTek and Spreadtrum who will provide high-quality and performance silicon at bargain basement prices to match the needs of Chinese OEMs living on razor-thin margins. Expect new operating systems and web services to take advances of these high performance bargain basement price devices.