Trends forecast for 2013

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The New Year is here!  Here is our roundup of what the experts say you can expect once the Eggnog has run out.

Economic trends

The economy is going to continue to be a pivotal factor next year. According to John Hawksworth, Chief UK Economist at PWC we can expect to see growth of about 2% next year compared to 0% in 2012. However the economy remains fragile and he advises businesses to stay agile so that they can respond to changing global economic conditions, particularly in the Eurozone.

Although UK unemployment is falling, consumer spending is taking longer to recover. However, global e-commerce is predicted by J.P.Morgan to hit $963 billion next year (source: JP Morgan).

Future shape of UK exports

Photo credit: PWC

Geographical trends

Boston Consulting Group expects China’s e-commerce industry to surpass $118 billion in gross merchandise value this year and to become the world's largest e-commerce market by 2015.

UK companies need to catch up with the US, Germany and France on exporting to the BRICs countries in order to realise their potential of doubling their share to around 16% within 20 years. But what will be the prize? Says Michael Clendenin of RedTech Advisors, it will be businesses with low margins fought out in price wars in a fiercely competitive market.

By 2015, China will have nearly twice the number of internet users as the USA and Japan

Photo Credit: BCG Perspectives

Digital trends

In 2013, technology providers will be thinking macro in order to give us an ubiquitous, connected infrastructure.

    • 4G: In the last few weeks, after a number of false starts, UK providers have finally been able to offer ‘4G’ phones with the potential to rival broadband connection speeds, in 2013 this will be extended to other operators. This infrastructure makes big data transfers and video collaboration a possibility, however high costs and limited coverage are likely to keep it out of reach of most consumers until 2014.
    • Mobile devices: Next year mobile phones will overtake desktops as the most common way to access the internet while sales of tablets are rocketing. The trend is towards lightness, thinness and portability while more powerful processors make sharing data much easier. Tablet screen sizes are likely to diversify, however phone screens aren’t likely to get any bigger.
    • Mobile payments: Technology including ‘near field communication’ or ‘wave and pay’ is being built into new smartphones. Personal payment services (money transfer via mobile phones) will become more common.
    • Cameras: with 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity allowing users to “shoot and share” in real time, people can edit their hi-resolution images and upload them directly to the Cloud or to social sharing sites.
    • TV: With the launch of 84" screens with 4k resolutions, TV technology is outstripping the content on offer.
    • Windows 8: Microsoft’s new operating system has now been released and is supported on all kinds of devices including tablets. The big change from previous versions of Windows is touchscreen.
    • The Cloud: In the past consumers were concerned with their device’s capacity to store content locally, but this is becoming increasingly unimportant with the proliferation of Cloud storage.  Ben Dowd, business director at O2 believes “Cloud and mobile services will become more important than ever in enabling the enterprise workforce”.

Cloud computing

Photo credit: Sam Johnson Creative Commons

Meanwhile digital service providers aim towards micro, specialised content.

The march continues towards a contextual web that blends Content, Community, Commerce, Vertical Search, and Personalization, allowing the user to sit back and let the internet do all the work for them.

Says Pelin Thorogood, CMO, Anametrix:

“The content and ads we encounter are increasingly customized to improve relevance, leveraging the many breadcrumbs we leave in our trail. Indeed, we may soon live in our own relevance bubbles, derived from our personal and social behaviour patterns. Marketers will know not just our browsing history and behaviour, but also that of our friends. All this personalization will certainly continue to change the delicate dance between marketers and consumers.”

We are still a decade away from Web 3.0 which will allow genuine personalization that understands our demographic and psychographic disposition and context, for the time-being businesses can concentrate on being niche.

Just as high-street commerce went from general store to speciality retail, so goes e-commerce. In an online world with a sometimes overwhelming number of (often poor quality) choices, consumers will continue to be attracted to curators who provide focused, high-quality, trustworthy products, content or services that are properly tailored to their requirements.

Smooth user journeys across platform and portal intersections, design that is responsive to users’ varied devices, subscription, vertical and local search, not to be confused with location-based services will be your service watch words here; while Mobile Tag Management, Convergence Analytics, Useable Insights, Microtargeting and Social Commerce will be your tools.

The ROI agency, ZenithOptimedia forecasts that internet advertising will grow by 15.1% next year which inches us slightly closer to the multi-billion dollar opportunity Mary Meeker and others speak of. The emerging area of mobile and app advertising is the one to watch as mobile internet usage surpasses desktop usage, but there still remain significant technology and usability obstacles.

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