2014: five predictions of good things that will happen

Here's my five things that will happen in 2014 - based on the talks from 2013's NEXT conferences…

Last week, some of the NEXT team made their predictions. It’s only fair that I do the same…

1. Return to digital

Smart companies will start to differentiate themselves by taking a “bigger picture” view of the impact of digital on their business. The days of just chasing the latest fad are over – instead, clever c-suite teams will be tracking trends, figuring out which ones are likely to affect their won line of business and adapting fast. They’ll use agencies to help them do this – but realise the initiative needs to come from within. The impact won’t be big within 2014, but it’ll sew the seeds of the winners and loser for the rest of the decade.

2. The social bubble wobbles a little

The more people pile into an online form, the harder it is to be heard. It was much easier to build an audience as a blogger in 2003 than it was in 2008 or 2013. The same is happening with social media, especially in use by brands. The noise is going ever up, and both people and platforms are beginning to try to turn it down in response. Facebook’s changes to the thing that used to be called Edgerank are as much about keeping a newsfeed that users care about as extracting money from brands. People will be demanding more return from social investment throughout 2014.

3. Money keeps ploughing into apps

This isn’t going to let up anytime soon. But once again. signal/noise is going to come into play – or rather, people’s limited attention will remain an issue. There will be some new big winners, but more and more app-based startups will fail to find an audience despite decent investment in them. That’s OK – that’s the Darwinian forces of the market at play.

4. The Internet of Things gets interesting

We’ve heard at a couple of NEXT conferences about things people are working on that involve connecting all sorts of kit to the internet. Some of that will start to emerge into use in 2014, and it won’t necessarily be in the consumer space. Connected industrial machinery, parts and vehicles have the chance to revolutionise industry – and make some people some very serious money.

5. Everyone stops talking about the cloud – even as it becomes more important

We’ve been talking about the cloud for long enough now that people are just starting to get bored of it. But, in fact, we’re edging our way into the post-cloud era. We’ll be storing more and more data in cloud invisibly, just because we stop thinking about where the data lives. Look at how Apple is progressively incorporating iCloud into its offerings. As its apps default to using it, you start expecting information to be everywhere. The cool new thing is becoming the forgotten default…

It’s just possible that the last prediction might worry you a little, especially in light of some of the stories that broke last year. Don’t worry – I’ll touch on the things to watch carefully this year at some point next week…

Photo by Aurelio Asiain on Flickr, and used under a Creative Commons licence