Welcome to Part 2 of our 10 Trends To Watch: 2017 series. In part 1 we talked about some technologies that have the potential to disrupt markets and a business model that appears to be on the rise. In this article, we’re going to talk about a few more technologies and business models that might change the world, a growing trend to be concerned about, and the ongoing trend of shifting demographics across the consumer market.
6. Voice Search
Voice search technology has been around for a few years now (can you believe Siri is about 5 years old?) but with developments in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, as well as evolving consumer habits, voice search is becoming more common. In turn, it is becoming more integral to Search Engine Optimization. Major tech companies are realizing this trend, especially with the proliferation of mobile device use and the convenience of an accurate voice search bringing value to users, not only to the “mobile-centric” millennials and Generation Z but also to older generations. 55% of teenagers and 56% of adults use voice search daily and the trend is not showing signs of slowing down.
Amazon, Microsoft and Apple each currently have their own digital assistant, Alexa, Cortana and Siri respectively. They allmake voice search a more pleasant experience for theuser by communicating results back verbally, limiting the amount of focus the user needs to put on their screen. Other technology companies are not far behind, either developing their own digital assistant or working out a deal with one of the 3 companies previously mentioned in order to use their digital assistant.
These developments in voice search and digital assistant technology are occurring in large part due to advances in AI and voice recognition which makes the search more accurate and user friendly, providing them with the results they wanted.
With Alexa being introduced by Amazon, continual improvements in AI and voice recognition, there is very little doubt that voice search will continue to be a major focus for technology companies in 2017. Marketers also need to embrace the trend, tailoring their terms and SEO strategy to embrace voice search. After all, it’s the future of mobile in a mobile future.
2016 was a year where several high-profile cyber attacks dominated the news cycle. Anyone, from private individuals, to businesses, to government organizations; it seems that nothing is safe from hackers.
With the huge amount of personal, confidential, or strategic business information online even the least technologically inclined people are aware of online threats and that they have information that could be lost to hackers. The risks of lax cybersecurity are there for everyone using the internet and while security experts and long-time internet users have been aware of the problem for decades, it seems as a result of highly publicized events that everybody and their grandmother is aware of risks online.
Nefarious groups and individuals attacking businesses with a variety of ransomware, phishing attacks and other methods of breaking online-security is nothing new. 2016 brought a new level of attention to the subject thanks to cyber attacks on power companies, hospitals and most notably the attack on the Democratic National Convention and the many email controversies surrounding the last Presidential election.
In 2017, organizations of all kinds should reconsider the defenses and systems in place to deal with a potential cyber attack. While there is very little anyone can do to preemptively strike against potential hackers, you can can invest in top of the line security, use cloud storage and maintain high employee awareness about potential threats. There must be a protocol in place for when a hack does occur to limit the damage and protect confidential information as much as possible.
In a report sponsored by Intel’s cybersecurity solutions provider McAfee, called “Net Losses – Estimating the global cost of cybercrime” released by the Centre of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), it was estimated that cybercrime costs businesses $400 billion worldwide.
For these reasons, organizations will open a dialogue (and their wallets via investments) about internal cybersecurity this year. Security experts and firms will be in high demand and there will be plenty of discussion on how to motivate employee awareness about the threats.
8. Autonomous Vehicles
If the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 was any indication it will be a big year for automakers utilizing technology and preparing for the era of autonomous vehicles. Google has been exploring the technology for quite a while now but 2017 has signaled that other automakers and new entrants to the automotive industry will begin exploring the technology. Companies like Uber, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are investing in self-driving technology. Automakers are also leading the trend with firms like Ford, GM, Honda, Tesla and new entrant to the autonomous-electric vehicle segment, Faraday Future, exhibiting their progress with the technology at CES 2017.
In addition to the cars themselves, ancillary technologies for these vehicles are being developed to support efforts of the automakers with companies developing sensors, bandwidth solutions and software to operate the vehicles. These technologies, while by no means new, need to be refined before they can safely be sold to consumers. The internet connection of the cars must be perfect and the software must be flawless, with any failure likely to lead to a crash, potentially tarnishing public perception of the technology.
While we won’t see any self-driving cars on the road this year, 2017 is the year that self-driving vehicles will become mainstream. Governments will consider their potential implications, companies will continue to refine and develop the necessary technologies to operate the vehicles, keeping the terms “autonomous vehicles” and “self-driving cars” in the news for 2017.
9. Drone Delivery
Another technology that may not make its official debut in 2017, but will be at the heart of 2017 conversations about supply chain management, delivering goods and the potential for automated delivery with no need for human hands (or eyes).
The reason it may not debut in 2017 is not because the technology is not available yet, drones have been in use by the military for years now, and consumer drones are available to the public at a fairly low cost. Sure, the technology for automated drone delivery is still a few years away but that’s expected.
Right now the issue with drone delivery is the fact that governments ban the flying of drones over populated areas in the United States and the fact that non-commercial drones (owned by hobbyists) have had some run-ins with air traffic.
Drone delivery will be a popular topic in 2017. Many companies including Amazon, Google, Walmart and many VC funded startups are right on the precipice of being able to utilize drones for delivery. The biggest issue and conversation points will involve the general safety of drones (you don’t want them to land on someone by accident or fall out of the sky), the ability for drones and other aircrafts to coexist in the same airspace (or the ability for governments to split the airspace in a way that works for both human controlled aircraft and drones) and ensuring a positive public perception of drone delivery in general.
The conversation regarding drone delivery in 2017 will center around the legality and safety issues of drones. Once those issues are dealt with the delivery industry should be able to continue full steam ahead. The current regulatory situation, mixed with the willingness of companies to invest in drone delivery makes this a very interesting trend to monitor.
10. Millennials and Generation Z
It’s not exactly a trend, but definitely a shift in power, momentum and the beginning of a drastic change in the demographics of many markets. In 2017, millennials are projected to spend $200 Billion worldwide, and are projected to collectively spend $10 Trillion dollars in their lifetime. This fact coupled with the fact that 10,000 baby boomers retire daily (with the oldest members of the group beginning to age into their 70s) means that businesses are going to need to begin replacing their current generation of customers with a new generation, one that is mobile-centric, tech-savvy and responsive to different factors then the baby-boomers.
Gen Z, while its members range from recent college grads to toddlers, will have (and already has) an extreme impact on the economy. While this generation will be more educated, more likely to multitask and slightly more ambitious (in regards to owning a business or changing the world) than millennials, the two groups still have much in common; from their love of screens, to their social decision making style and constant viewing of content. A lot of the traits that make millennials seem “millennial” are present in Gen Z, just more extreme.
Compared to Baby-Boomers and Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers are focused on technology, are extremely social, and listen to their networks when making decisions. They do not like to be interrupted or bombarded with ads and they do not wish to be solicited by companies. If they have a question they will ask, likely over Facebook, and expect a response ASAP.
This means that brands must begin to cater to these generations to continue to grow and thrive as businesses. That means engaging with them through creative, fun content that they can share with their friends. It means being present on the newest, coolest social media platforms to get an audience for your product. For some firms it might mean a complete overhaul of your business strategy.
It may not be a trend, but the youngest Baby-Boomer is 53 today, the youngest member of Gen X will turn 40 within the next 5 years. The future is now, and 2017 is the year to adapt.
So what do you think about my Top 10 Trends of 2017? Do you agree with them? What trend are you most excited about this coming year? Is it AR? (Mines AR). What trend most concerns you? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ #TrendsToWatch