It's always fun to try to predict what the new year holds. Here are some of my thoughts.
Here's what I see when I look into my crystal ball!
Silver Tecnho Geeks.
While the younger generation will continue to swarm towards smart phones and smaller devices, we will see a much more digital and internet savvy older group who have moved into the tablet era with the allure of easy user interfaces and handy apps to support workflow. The result - more and more of our work and communication will rely on online apps and devices. This might actually enable a more virtual working reality - with less physical travel necessary to have "face time" with those unplugged stakeholders of the past.
Show Us Your Data!
We will see a push for local and national government organizations to share data and embrace the software and people who can analyze that data and make strategic recommendations on future planning - based on facts, not politics. Why does this matter? It will have a direct impact on our quality of life and how involved we are in local planning and community efforts, as our neighborhoods and communities find common ground through the sharing and dissemination of data that matters to us.
Social media will take a hit.
As the cacophony of voices and extremist views reaches a boiling point, and people seek refuge in a more civilized discourse amongst real people - like friends, community members and family. The fire hose of information, views, agendas, supporting data and general vitriol will become intolerable, and users will welcome a quieter and friendlier community. What does this mean for you? You should nurture your real relationships vs. your perceived digital circle of influence. Big personalities championing a cause and promoting an agenda will become increasingly detested, and those you associate with will welcome genuine and thoughtful dialogue. Watch for a slew of new apps and online tools to help support this social shift away from the masses and into more personalized networks.
The "Me" generation will get over themselves.
We have seen a new generation raised being told they are special, their voices matter, and they deserve to be coddled and hand held. Expect the workforce to suffer dramatically until this general sentiment changes (this opinion has been expressed to me by multiple company presidents and HR professionals). The world is a crowded place with too many problems to list. We need strength in numbers, not individual egos. Our neighborhoods, small businesses, community groups and social circles are where the power is. 2013 will help us find new ways to come together to leverage our collective efforts instead of furtively seeking individual "specialness". The individual superstar may fade in favor of group stars - where planning, organizing and motivating the masses to achieve a goal will be the new objective. What might this mean for us? We will see a push towards group effort, sharing and openness, in pursuit of common goals which provide a better environment for us all.
Local, local, local.
Neighborhoods and hyper-local social media will continue to become big business, as developers and creatives find ways to connect people to the very local or specialized information they are interested in. As more and more people opt-out of the continuous stream of bad news and media hyped extremism, expect to see this focus on "local" grow and gain more traction. I expect to meet more of my neighbors "virtually" in 2013, and hopefully therefore feel better about cutting ties with those girls I hung out in with in 8th grade who now bombard my Facebook wall with pictures of their kids and kitchen experiments. This may be a new years wish.
Data, data, data.
As technology grows faster and more powerful, and we all become data transmitting beings, watch for data to start to tell us very interesting things about ourselves, and even realities we can't yet perceive. Data and the reach of technology have accomplished some impressive things over the past few years, from medical breakthroughs to insights into human behavior. It has also given us tremendous power, particularly in terms of military advancements. Drone strikes and remote warfare are now the norm, and high power cameras and satellites give our governments constant eyes on each other. I'll expect to hear (after the fact of course) of more and more under cover military operations going down where data and technology are the real stars. Let's hope the data always yields the right target, because data doesn't have a conscience. I am excited about what data will tell us about ourselves, our planet, our past and future.
The world will not end on Dec. 21, 2012 as the Mayan calendar may have been predicting. However we will continue to live under the constant threat of terrorism, frankenstorms, viral outbreaks, and other disasters (often covered on Doomsday Preppers which is yes one of my favorite shows). And as these threats materialize, we will continue relying on the internet and communication tools like Twitter to keep up on what is going on in the outside world. How many of us relied on Twitter and Facebook during superstorm Sandy to keep in touch with those who were in danger zones? While the outside world of storms, bombs and bugs can seem quite scary, the real threat I worry about is cyber-terrorism. Imagine those networks we've grown dependent upon suddenly silenced? Watch for increases in protective measures as well as increases in attacks next year. It's not 12.21.12 I'm scared of, it's the lights going out or the nuclear plant near my home melting down or my banking system being completely dismantled - compliments of hackers. I hope I'm wrong on this one, perhaps I need to stop watching and listening to the constant stream of doom and gloom?
On a less "Walking Dead" or "Homeland" storyline scale, I definitely see a steadily increasing trend towards organizations realizing the importance of their websites. I just had a conversation today with an institution that knew it had some brand issues, but was going to put that on the backburner because their website was in such dire need of attention. If the front doors of your store won't open, you should get that fixed before you focus on the sign out front. While it's great to have the luxury of time and be able to focus on the brand first, those lines are becoming increasingly blurred in terms of what comes first, and the website is definitely the "front lines" in the battle for customers. I expect to see agencies like ours challenged to come up with new and inventive ways to address these struggles our clients' are facing. Our processes will have to adapt to the shifting needs of our clients, and the food chain may begin to look very different.
Enjoy the Silence.
In our ever connected world if instant information and an opinion and facts to support every perspective or view, I wonder when we will reach critical mass and happily turn our smart phones off to sit down at a table with friends and family. Or will we just steadily evolve to become accustomed to this new era of constant input and output? Will the two year olds of today feel overwhelmed by information when they are in their 20s? Who knows, but it will be interesting to see what happens.
Happy New Year and wishing us all a safe, happy and emotionally rewarding existence in 2013!
(Pardon any typos or abuses of grammar, I'm busy building my bunker.)