02/02/2015

2015 look ahead: Part four – The direction of travel

BY Neil Gilbert

This is the last instalment in our series forecasting the digital world in 2015 and beyond (check out the previous instalment here). In today’s blog we’re looking at trends that won’t breakthrough into the mainstream this year but which are bubbling under and setting the direction of travel.

Recent research by Fujitsu shows that the UK’s population is amongst the world’s most progressive when it comes to digital. They’ve no qualms about taking a digital-first option for interacting with organisations, but how far will this go in 2015?

Wearable tech / Internet of Things

Wearable technology is one of the ways the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) will become reality. By connecting the things we wear with the internet, customers, employees and other stakeholders will generate huge amounts of data. Switched-on companies and brands will be able to use this data to bring new products to market and improve their services.

Apple’s new smartwatch (due out Spring 2015) will be the one to watch in this space. What will most likely be a seamless user experience, backed by the Apple brand will doubtless create headway. Will it prove as disruptive as earlier innovations? It’s predicted that smartwatches and fitness bands will comprise 80-90% of wearable technology for at least the next five years, and that 80 million wearables will be sold this year. That suggests that in the short-term, opportunities for corporate comms in the IoT will remain siloed and that digital interaction will mainly be through mobile, tablet or desktop.

Wider adoption of wearable tech will depend on two things:

– Seamless and aspirational design. No disrespect to Google Glass but companies will need to try a lot harder if they want people to adopt.

– Wearables have the potential to be an intimate and personal part of peoples’ lives, requiring brands to demonstrate sensitivity and empathy.

Meanwhile, in the background, the IoT will steadily grow in less obvious ways – to 20 billion connected devices by 2020 – in everything from bins which say when they’re full (see Milton Keynes MK: Smart partnership) to embedded tech which improves efficiencies in factories. Expect these incremental changes to establish universal connectivity, rather than headline grabbing, wearable items.

Working practice

Digital will of course continue to disrupt working practice within the corporate environment. Highlights will include:

– Apps for niche content, driven by location-based and predictive technology, pre-empting user behaviour. Where content is fresh and relevant it will add value and improve productivity.

– Over half of businesses plan to increase internal comms budgets in 2015 and half of devices on a corporate network will be mobile. This will keep the long-term focus on the way we communicate with staff, both in the message, and the medium. Bring your own device to work (BYOD) has become less talked-about, but it remains relevant.

If staff are using their own technology, firms need to take a definite view one way or the other. For instance, over the top messaging (WhatsApp, WeChat etc) will continue to grow and overtake SMS. These platforms are driven by image and video sharing and are free.

Get in touch

This completes our series of blogs forecasting things digital in 2015 and beyond. It will be interesting to see what happens in the months ahead and we’d love to hear your views too. After all, the only thing we can all predict with absolute certainty is change itself.