Prediction: 2016 Will Go Beyond Mobile
Yesterday was a day filled with brain-expanding experiences all leading me down the same path
It started with the Social Media Today [SMT] 2016 Predictions panel which included three extremely bright guys, Brian Fanzo, change evangelist at Broadsuite Media Group, who thinks like the Millennials I described in my most recent book, Gal Josefberg, VP for product marketing at Act-On a marketing and sales automation company and Brent Leary, a partner at CRM Essentials, a consulting firm and me.
SMT Founder & CEO Robin Carey, moderated and asked good and thoughtful followup questions throughout the session.
For the most part, despite that fact that we looked at the near-term future through diverse prisms we violently agreed on most issues– with one notable exception related to data use. While we all agreed that business should use more open sources such as social media, at least one panelist argued that marketing should own data, while some of us argued that users should own the data they produce and perhaps be rewarded for its use with improved personal experiences.
Beyond that, we talked about the evolution of using data to score all sorts of stuff, in the same way that Sharing Economy platforms allow passengers and drivers; hosts and guests to score each other. We talked about how the Internet of Things in 2015 has become so ubiquitous, that there are Internets of cows connecting with the Internet of everything else and that this will continue. We noted that technology is trending toward humanization: We discussed a clip where a little girl tells Siri that she loves her/him/it or whatever intelligent voice interactive systems are becoming. This is an issue that has great value, yet is more than a little creepy.
I was gratified that so much of what the other panelists talked about were issues Robert Scoble and I had discussed in Age of Context or I had covered in Lethal Generosity. Ironically, I was the only one who tended to avoid much discussion of mobile, social media, data, location technologies and the Internet of Things. These are the topics I have examined, written about and spoke about for the past three years.
Ever since publishing the most recent book back in September, I have been thinking a lot about what happens next in technology, business and life now that these converging contextual trends are becoming obvious to so many people. I’d been discussing this topic increasingly with Scoble, whenever we’ve had time to get together. This aversion was bolstered when the last thing I read before logging into the program was a post by Christopher Penn, at Shift Communications. He posted a warning to people making annual predictions that saying “‘mobile is going to be huge” is not predicting anything other than their own incompetence.” I had no intention of displaying my own incompetence to the thousands of people who would see the SMT predictions program.
I was also pleased to see the impressive competence of my three co-panelists. They had their fingers on the pulse of near-term trends and offered much that I would think this audience of managers and professionals would find useful and valuable.
My focus was different. I was trying to go a little further forward looking at trends that would take form in 2016, I am more interested in the trends that business thinkers need to deal with and shape the next ten years the way mobile technologies have shaped the prior ten.
When my turn came, I talked about virtual and augmented reality [VR/AR] as well as autonomous systems like self-driving cars. These are technologies that reduce or eliminate the barrier between technologies and people that is the screen and in so doing immerse people in setting where what is real and what is not become blurred. This is freaky stuff and I feel that in 2016, these innovations will be wildly popular while simultaneously making other folks wildly uncomfortable. But like it or not, these technologies are about to change a great deal in technology and life.
I talked about Magic Leap, a potential replacement for Google Glass, whose AR is being developed on a grand scale in part because Google has invest .5 billion dollars in the startup. I talked also about Google Cardboard, a throwaway AR
device that the New York Times will use to change subscriber experience with news and advertising content. I mentioned Oculus, now owned by Facebook and Microsoft’s comeback attempt with the Hololens AR technology that will come out in full in 2016. I mentioned Apple’s acquisition of PrimeSense 3D sensors as well as Faceshift, AR technology that creates alien creatures by augmenting human actors.
Robin challenged my answer wondering if there would be any actual business apps in these areas in 2016. While I gave one example, Brent Leary made the stronger point that almost all technology innovation starts either in the games or porn categories, because user experience is so importance to the financial gains for both. From those inauspicious starts a great many technologies that we each use every day have evolved in increasingly short periods of time.
Immediately after the panel I headed down to Half Moon Bay for a long-scheduled lunch with Robert Scoble where we did what we always do when we get together: we talked tech. Robert is ahead of me in technology. He sits on the edge of tech innovation and spots trends ahead of anyone in my social graph. Lately, he has been filling my head with information, ideas and excitement of how big and world-changing AR/VR/ and autonomous systems such as self-driving cars is about to become and how 2016, is the year that these technologies will soon spill out of entertainment and education and into business. Yesterday, he was an augmented cornucopia of information and ideas. He made my head hurt and I was thrilled.
Creeping Me Out
I left him convinced that AR/VR and other technologies that extend beyond mobile will be the most significant technology events of the year. They will not change business as we know it in 2016, but they will set a course that will guide the relationship between people and things that will be among the driving forces of the next decade. The world that Scoble sees creeps me out more than slightly, just like the loss of privacy continues to bother me.
But for better or worse, it is a world that s coming and true thought leaders and business strategists will start recalibrating the course for companies that wish to retain their positions or gain against competitors. It is a world where technology will make each of us smarter about whatever interest us, where people will get their needs satisfied in ways both wonderful and strange. This world of altered realities will change the processes of how we buy, see, eat, watch, wear, read.
They will not replace the mobile by any means. That device will be around for quite some time to come. But instead of it becoming the ultimate point of one era, it will become the starting point of a new one.
Robert and I are always looking for a new book to write together. There are certain criteria: of course these books need to be about tech’s change on business and life and they need to help business thinkers to see the near-term future. We try to write early warning signals for thought leaders and innovators who want to create something better than the best practices of today.
We are not there quite yet, but we are getting a lot closer to a new book one that will describe how these new technologies will change the next decade as significantly as the mobile phone has change the last decade. We’ll keep you posted as we move onward.