I recently presented at an Oracle lunch on digital trends for 2013. I thought I’d convert the salient points from the presentation into a blog entry for people to read /comment about social, mobile and cloud trends.

My view is that these trends will, if they’re not already, change the way we use & experience digital technology.

1. Mobile first

Mobile first is a trend where the mobile experience is designed first and then the web experience is designed as an extension of the mobile experience. The rationale being that it’s easier to add screen size than remove it.
Mobiles also have more knowledge about the user’s context, such as location, social integration, analytics, usage, and therefore can utilise this to inform a better experience.
This trend was made famous by Google in 2010 when they indicated it was going to be central to their design philosophy.
It would be very pleasing to see this trend take off in Australia as there are a lot of Australia websites that still don’t have a mobile optimised version.

2. Responsive design

Responsive design is a fluid, proportion-based, grid design that changes the screen elements according to the device on which it is viewed to provide an optimal browsing experience. (It’s almost the opposite of graceful degradation.) This essentially means that the web, tablet and mobile version of a site are delivered from a common infrastructure and there isn’t a separate m-site (eg. m.company.com).
A great example of responsive design is The Boston Globe. www.thebostonglobe.com (or the Deloitte Digital site www.deloittedigital.com)

3. Geo-fencing

This trend is making location based services actually useful. It sets up geospatial boundaries that can trigger events when you cross them. For instance, using geo-fencing, when you get near a bus stop, you could make your phone look up the timetable for you.
My view is that mobile advertising will be based heavily on geo-fencing in the future.
As an example, the Reminders app in iOS has geo fencing in it. You can set reminders to trigger on locations. E.g. When you return home, you can set a reminder to put out the trash.

4. Cross device experience

As the proliferation of devices and device usage increases, the experience of using applications across devices is becoming more important. This trend is linked heavily with the increase of cloud based apps and storage.
I think the two best examples of cross device experience are Chrome and iCloud. Particularly Chrome as it allows you to track usage / history, search terms, sessions across mobile, tablet and desktop versions of the Chrome browser. If I have been looking at a site on my desktop at work, when I go home I can pick up that session on my iPad.
This trend will be strongly linked with data analytics for tracking usage behaviour across devices.

5. Gamification

Gamification is the use of game mechanics, such as incentives and rewards, in non-game contexts to make experiences more engaging.
I think one of the best examples of gamification is the LinkedIn profile completion progress bar. It utilises our disposition for completeness to get people to add additional information about themselves.
Gamification tends to use mastery skills, such as leaderboards and badges, to incentivise people to complete tasks and increase engagement.

6. Social monetisation

I think most people understand how powerful social recommendations are. The “others who are like you bought this” widget is a very powerful way to cross-sell and up-sell products. This has been very effective for sites such as Amazon.
More recently, new crowd sales techniques, like fan sourcing have started to appear. This is a trend where a brands’ most ardent supporters are incentivised to assist in the sales process as an advocate. For instance, if I like using Asics shoes (which I do), then I could advocate their positive attributes for an incentive.
A good example is the fan sourcing tool www.needle.com

This is the next evolution of crowd sourcing, where crowd sourcing becomes much more than labour arbitrage and moves into communities of specialised resources.
Two good examples are:

  • Crowd funding with Kickstarter. This is a site that uses peer-to-peer concepts for sourcing investment capital for entrepreneurs. It’s also a great way to test the likely success of a product as it gets those most likely to buy a product, to invest in it.
  • Crowd intelligence with Kaggle. This is a site that makes ‘data science a sport’. It creates a competition out of solving difficult data prediction problems.

These seven trends are what I see as being important in the digital market in the coming year. Do you agree or would you add other trends to this list?

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