So what’s next?

What's_Next_halfAs each year comes to a close advertising and marketing magazines publish predictions from industry thought leaders about what we should expect for the coming year. And each year there are more than enough experts lined up to share their thoughts about the industry and the new trends and technologies that will have a significant impact on our day-to-day lives. Sometimes I read these and think to myself, “Self, what the hell do these people really know? I could probably do a better job if they just asked me.”

So, instead of looking forward this year, I thought it would be interesting to look back to see how prescient these experts were in their annual predictions. I started my search by digging up an article published in Forbes that I had read at the end of 2013. In this article top industry leaders were asked what organizations and individuals should expect from the continued digital revolution in 2014.

The first opinion in this article was from Nancy Bhagat, who ran marketing strategy at Intel (and is now at TE Connectivity). She predicted that there would be a huge increase in location-based marketing and a heightened reliance on mobile devices for everyday living. I know that that sounds fairly broad, but she went on to say that with that increased reliance on mobile devices there would be an increased expectation of services and personalization. While many people saw that coming at the end of 2013, with the leaked news about Touch ID and the soon to be released iPhone 6, the fulfillment of this expectation for enhanced personalization and services from consumers was very much realized in the following years. A solid A+ prediction from Ms. Bhagat, in my opinion.

Noah Elkin was also right on target with his prediction that the increased reliance on mobile as the “new desktop” would have a far greater significance than simply serving as a substitute computing device. He felt that this shift would be reflected both quantitatively, in terms of the amount of time consumers would spend with their mobile devices on a daily basis, and qualitatively, in the way “these devices would effectively become the remote control for consumers’ lives.” This prediction was also realized in the following years with the proliferation of mobile home security devices and apps to manage things like personal home media and thermostats remotely.

Mr. Elkin went on to say that this shift would also dramatically affect the path to purchase. He predicted that this ubiquitous connectivity meant that consumers were always in the consideration phase for purchasing something and rarely more than a tap away from jumping from a physical store to a virtual store. This blurring of the line in commerce has increased over the years with close to 60% of millennials reporting in a recent survey, that their phone is their “most valuable shopping tool when they are in a store.”

While these first two predictions seemed pretty solid, not everyone had a clear crystal ball into the future. Some were a bit fuzzy. Maybe even opaque in some cases. There was one guy who predicted a big uptake in Bitcoin as a safe and secure digital currency and another fellow who forecasted a limitless ceiling for Google Glass. Well, those were examples of two bubbles that burst rather quickly. Bitcoin experienced a hack that resulted in about $5 million being stolen from user wallets. If you add to that the fact that the Bitcoin currency has volatility seven times greater than gold and 18 times greater than the US Dollar, you quickly realize that they are not exactly “crushing it” as prophesied.

As far as the Google Glass prognostication…well, maybe next time the head honchos in Mountain View will think twice before releasing something that is so embarrassingly geeky to wear in public?

I could go on with the other predictions in the article, but let’s just say that there were far more hits than misses. So after re-reading this article, I think my question about what these experts really know was answered. Evidently, a hell of a lot more than me.

There is a reason I don’t go to the racetrack. In the future, I’ll just stick to reading these predictions.