It wouldn’t be the New Year without a predictions post.
Here are a few expectations (and wishes) about the year ahead from our own team…
Garry Partington, CEO and Founder
“2018 will surely be the year of kickback against technology supergiants “GAFAMIS” – that’s Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Instagram, Snapchat. They wield a huge amount of power, and a big chunk of it rests on social networks.
“Isn’t that one of the biggest misnomers? A network of socially-linked people, slowly turning inwards, away from real-life social interactions. Our lives are ruled by the ping of phones, reminiscent of a crack cocaine stimulant, pushing us to pick up the same digital device again and again.
“Has it now gone too far? Is there a resentment building around the lost time spent living digital lives at the expense of real ones? We owe it to ourselves to strive to use technology for good, for the improvement of ourselves and society. My predictions for 2018…
- Kickback against GAFAMIS will start in small pockets, with a desire to do the right thing – they’ll respond and change.
- Voice will come of age; its skills and capabilities are becoming more “human”, while the transformation of voice UI, from an interaction-only method to a speech-led and data representation model, makes for some interesting improvements in productivity, providing new ways of working and better opportunities for expression.
- Self-driving functionality and Ride Hailing will become a reality by the end of the year, thanks to Tesla, leaving companies such as Uber and Lyft redundant. Just imagine: no more queuing for dirty taxis or struggling to find somewhere to park. Your own personal chauffeur can pick you up, with no risk to personal safety or drink driving. At least, I’m hoping this comes true – now I just need to save up for that Tesla.”
Adam Fleming, Chief Technology Officer
“First, we’ll gain more context in tech. Our mobile devices are gaining more sensors with every iteration, and this information can be built into a richer picture of the context in which the device is operating. The ultimate embodiment of this is AR – where a handset has a strong sense of place on both a micro and macro level. I think 2018 could be the year that the AR killer app emerges – even if it’s the next Pokemon Go!
“Second, more intelligence – as devices gain a greater sense of context, the next exciting avenue for expansion is what they do with it. The use of AI has grown exponentially over the past few years, but 2018 will see mobile devices starting to leverage AI and learning techniques locally, rather than acting merely as data collectors. Techniques will emerge that allow for the fine-grained customisation of models based on small, highly-specific datasets – hyper-personalisation at device level.
“Next, we can look forward to more proactive devices. There are already examples in modern mobile OSs where increased local intelligence is doing this – suggesting new apps based on usage patterns, or locations based on previous or frequent journeys – but they’re almost always very low-key, probably to avoid freaking out users. I think these kinds of features will take more prominence in 2018 as users become more open to the idea of their digital assistant actively helping them, rather than waiting for commands.
“But with the smooth comes the rough, and the application of AI – particularly to personal data – is still a young field. While companies figure out how best to apply the power of AI whilst keeping private data safe, the expectations and affordances of a user-base which is becoming increasingly aware of AI are still evolving. We even see differences across generations, with a younger population far more comfortable sharing information which their parents/grandparents would consider deeply private. All that said, my final prediction is that there’s at least one significant privacy/AI shit-storm on the horizon.”
Marcus Hadfield, Chief Strategy Officer
“Voice: Alexa and her friends will be everywhere this year, so the race is on for businesses and brands to work out virtual assistants and start using them. Because the ‘skill’ part is relatively easy though, you can bet there’ll be a slew of barely-used skills around. Who’ll win the battle? Those organisations who understand how this new UI can make life better for their customers and colleagues.
“Brand Marketing: For years, SEO has been critical in answering intent – it still is. But as voice use increases, what does that mean for brands? Is Alexa going to make four or five suggestions as to which company to hire a car from? What’s the answer to the command “Siri, order more washing powder”? Brands need to earn their place in customers’ hearts and minds more than ever before.
“‘Good’ businesses: Perhaps more of a wish than a prediction, but now is the time for “big businesses” to help to make the world a better place and win customers by doing it. Less plastic, more taxes, better employee rights, greater transparency. That kind of thing.
“Alarm Clocks: Buy Braun! We’ve hidden behind the excuse of taking phones into the bedroom “because I need the alarm” for too long. Old school snooze buttons are where it’s at for 2018.”