In 2013 mobility, big data and the cloud environment emerged as three of the top technology trends, disrupting many well-established norms long observed by technology businesses, marketers and IT professionals. Consumers who were once tied to a stationary world of computing and collectively leashed by techies, marketers and system applications began to find the established boundaries of technology broken. With the explosion of mobile computing devices, consumers escaped their captors to become not only observers but participants and creators of content, products and media. Today’s technology users are more empowered; know what devices and services they like using and expect not only to be able to use these at leisure, but at work as well. The explosion of cloud computing has unleashed new trends that now extend to everyone from enterprises to small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). In 2014 it is expected that the personal cloud will replace the PC at the center of users’ digital lives.
The growing number of connected devices and machines is radically changing the business and IT landscape. Cisco Systems’ Internet Business Solutions Group predicts that the number of Internet-connected devices will hit 25 billion by 2015 and reach 50 billion by 2020. The firm also forecasts that 99 percent of physical objects will eventually become part of a network. “With 80 to 90 percent of data today existing in an unstructured state, big data tools are essential for distinguishing the ‘signal from the noise,'” says Menka Uttamchandani, vice president for business intelligence at Denihan Hospitality Group, “with all the unchecked collection of data from smartphones, wearable devices and pads, it is essential that we transform a growing mountain of data into knowledge.” Managing and understanding all the data poses not only challenges but opportunity in the coming year.
We are going to see a huge increase in location-based marketing”, says Nancy Bhagat, Vice President of Marketing Strategy at Intel. “With the rapid proliferation of devices, and the explosion of the “Internet of Things”, people will be carrying, utilizing, and depending on their devices more than ever. As part of the increased dependency, there is an increased expectation of services and personalization. Some marketers perceive that the proliferation of data collection devices have consumers both welcoming and resisting technology’s growing presence in their lives. For many, technology serves as a gateway to opportunity and an enabler of hyper-efficient lifestyles, but those who are most immersed are starting to question its effect on their lives and their privacy, resulting in a desire by many users to find balance.
Indicative of the user trend to participate more freely and collectively in the IT space, consumers will continue to explore and demand mobile apps like Waze, a community based mapping, traffic and navigation app. Now comprised of more than 70 million users, Waze is a GPS-based geographical navigation application program for smartphones with GPS support and display screens which provides turn-by-turn information and user-submitted travel times and route details. The app allows users to connect, collect, process, share and utilize common, real-time data to improve their and other users commuting experiences.
Banjo, is another collaborative user application that promises opportunities to “See what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world, to connect with people you never knew before and find something new every time you explore.” It boasts that it will take you beyond your network, live into what is happening anywhere you want to go. Available for free in the App Store and in Google Play, it is indicative of consumers growing demand in 2014; to not only observe but to actively collaborate in their experiences with the digital world. Clearly, in the coming year, consumers will be demanding and expecting more from their digital experiences, allowing marketers more opportunity to connect their brands with eager, participating consumers.
The tremendous growth of social media has made it a valuable marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. Social media networks have become mandatory places for online advertising strategy and in 2014 marketers will need to pay close attention to their respective brand engagements, where content will reign supreme in successfully targeting consumers. Integration and coordination of message with brand identity across everything digital will be essential to capturing and advancing market share in highly competitive fields. In the coming year, Facebook will complete a decade of its existence and it is expected that the world’s number one social media site will keep on targeting mobile devices and giving advertisers chances to target their advertisements to an ever more mobile consumer. Whichever way the other social media networks go, in 2014 almost all marketers will realize that it’s absolutely essential to spend money and time on social media endeavors.
During the past few years, the explosive growth of online social media sites like Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest has resulted in billions of people connecting with marketers. They will be mandatory tools in 2014, and really effective companies will have exclusive, creative resources dedicated to managing their social media strategy. In this continuously changing and innovating technology era, marketing approaches will need to innovate and change with the advancements in communication technology if companies are to continue to retain a loyal customer base while successfully achieving real dynamic growth.