2014 Predictions

Did 2014 deliver on expectations?.

Not sure if you’ve been under a rock for the entire year, but it was a EPIC year in the Digital Shift. Key events, tipping points and market accelerations gave us a glimpse into how life as we know it will evolve to a digital native society.

Back at the start of the year I made several ‘out there’ predictions on the year. Let’s review if I’m any good at this prediction stuff.

Mobile technology to march on…

Waiting for smartphone sales to hit their peak? It might have just happened. Smartphone shipments boomed in 2014, increasing 26.3 percent to 1.3 billion units from 2013. Apple-Google (iOS-Android) duopoly will start to come under pressure, particularly from China. Companies like Xiaomi, Huawei and Lenovo are not only taking market share from Apple and others, by offering increasingly cheaper prices, they’re also affecting the global average selling price for smartphones. The average price, currently $297, is expected to drop to $241 by 2018, according to the IDC.

Personally, I see the growth only accelerating as cost effective players like Xiaomi drive down the cost of smartphone inclusion. Opening the door to another billion smart connected devices.

Cheap Factor

Cheap ruled the digital inclusion agenda for 2014. Xiaomi’s entry into several new LARGE markets in 2014 enabled the company to drive unthinkable growth numbers. Who could forget Xiaomi pushing itself into third on the smartphone manufacturer list, Samsung remains at the lead despite declining shipment volume, followed by Apple, Xiaomi, and Lenovo and LG, which tied for fourth place. A new report by Strategy Analytics also puts Xiaomi in the number three position.

With dozens of massive emerging markets still untapped by the ridiculous growth of smartphone penetration, we can expect Xiaomi to have targets to double the size of its business in 2015.

Visualization Everywhere

Data alone is no longer acceptable. Markets, corporate and analyst now expect insights and trends to be ‘pretty’. As a result one of the fastest growing careers globally is data scientists that can drive stories through data. Over 2014, I consulted on no less than 50 senior data science appointments in banking, advertising, FMCG and Government.

Look forward to more Infographics on your Facebook timeline or Twitter feed.

Digitally Freed

3D printing, while it grew in 2014 was one of the disappointment for the year. Despite an abundance of new technologies right through the production value chain, 3D printing still hasn’t made serious inroads into the manufacturing and design of products. But don’t take this as negative, I still firmly believe that it will continue to be a key transformation to watch going forward.

Era of Personal Cloud

Almost every major technology drove expansions of their cloud platforms. Dropbox is working closer with Microsoft, Google Drive has helped drive price wars, and believe it or not corporate is driving most of the growth. In 2014 the per head usage of cloud has grown from 500gb to 5Tb on average. Acceptance at this level helps mitigate any mystery around security and privacy, bring down the perceived barriers to adoption.

In the personal market, iCloud, Google Drive, Box and a host of new market entries are driving the ongoing shift of personal storage into the cloud. Soon all your documents, photos, maybe even key assets will be stored in the cloud.

Cloud client key

The architecture of life is evolving. A decade ago we had fat client software we would install from ‘physical’ floppy disks, then came the download and app store generation. Although trends in 2014 are indicating more and more services that were previously delivered through software are quickly becoming internet applications leveraging the power of technologies like HTML5.

Business and digital crowds

My prediction for crowd sourcing has shown some examples of corporates turning to hackathons, accelerators and open communities to support strategy and product design, but we are still well short of harnessing the possibilities. While the indications are positive, I’d say I over estimated how far we’d get in 2014.

keeping up with the Internet of everything

Yes, Yes, and Yes… more devices are coming online. New sensors, government data, vehicles, buildings are quickly connecting to the digital world. Companies that spent the time understanding and learning from the new possibilities are now killing it. Yes, business like Uber are powered by the Internet of Everything, and its why more businesses like it will come and thrive.

The New Microsoft

At the end of 2013, Mashable wrote ‘Microsoft in 2014: Reboot or Game Over?‘ a confronting reality for a technology super giant that was on the ropes. The year started strong when Satya Nadella was announced to succeed Steve Ballmer, but since that date Microsoft has done little to build confidence in its future. The only notable events were Office coming to iOS and the killing of the Nokia smartphone brand. Core products such as Office remain well behind market pressures, and windows mobile is still struggling for growth.

Does 2015 become the ‘Year of the burning platform’ for Microsoft?

Micro-mapping arrives

Yes. Even large players like Google and Apple are driving greater granularity in their mapping platforms. In my travels I now discover thousands of malls, building and parks that have internal or micro data for environments previously not mapped. 2014 was a huge step forward, and 2015 will take it further.

 

The Quantified Self

Over a thousand new devices or services entered the market in 2014, driving both the breadth and depth of the industry. FitBit drove diversity by boosting its product offering at all levels, while adding new sensors such as constant HR. The majority of offerings are still based on community, intrinsic and extrinsic feedback loops. But we are also seeing some experiments in purpose driven offerings for preventative care, early detection and life enhancement. Also we’ve seen moves by companies like BP, Cigna, and Progressive start to build behavioural models into their service offerings.

Sets 2015 for being an exciting year.

 

Encryption Everywhere

What I thought would drive more sensitivity to privacy, security and encryption, actually didn’t manifest. Yes, we are more conscious of the risks in data. But we’ve taken very little steps to engage new services, or change behavior in response.

Overall 2014 was an exciting year that ended with one of the most epic stories fusing hacking, movies and terrorism. The Sony Hack and careful online launch of the movie The Interview will open an interesting debate in 2015 as topics such as creative freedom, censorship and collective hacking become topics society are forced to face.

Key industries, banking, education, insurance and media, still remain vulnerable to disruption. But they’ve managed to survive another year.

Hope 2014 was fulfilling for you. Share with me your 2014’s “expectations’, highlight and lowlights of the year.

© Scott Bales 2014. All Rights Reserved.