January 3, 2013
The digital space changes by the second. A critical, foundational measure of our work here at Catchfire means moving with technology at that speed. We discover and deconstruct each evolution of the social and mobile web that we can, translating the significance of these innovations to solutions for our clients. This past year has seen major innovations in touch and sensor technology. Augmented reality was introduced to the masses. E-commerce and mobile technology saw continuous, breakneck growth.
So, as we embark on 2013, what innovations do we expect to make an impact for you or your business this year? Here are our best predictions for what 2013 will bring.
- Access keeps it rolling. Wifi availability is no longer a “value-add.” Consumers expect it at every turn. Driving this need is both the prevalence of smartphones and tablets (the majority of which are wifi-only devices), as well as the growth of public wifi as a utility of competition in the telecom industry. From Google fiber to 4G mobile broadband, we’ll see faster and broader web access abound in 2013, and in doing so, pave the way for all the advances that follow. – Ryan, Analyst
- Tap-based interfaces explode, as the line between tablets and traditional desktops continues to fade. As tap-enabled desktops such as the Dell XPS 12 continue to hit the market, designers of web-based interfaces can no longer assume these users operate with the accuracy of a mouse and pointer. Our tip to you? Embrace this evolution and make sure all instances of your web presence feature large, generously-spaced tap elements and support touch and swipe events. – Ryan, Lead UX Designer
- Apple falls from its tablet throne. In two years, Apple has lost more than 30 percent of its market share in the tablet arena. What’s more, Android-powered tablets have out-shipped Apple in the past six of eight quarters. And, as the division between Apple and Google widens, the Cupertino-based tech giant will need a major boost from its next generation of iPads to climb its way back to the top. – Eric, Project Manager
- The “smart watch” gets real. Whether Apple is cooking up an iPod Nano-like device or something closer to the Pebble, 2013 will definitely see a low-energy consumption, wrist-worn smart device. For a cost similar to most modern watches (roughly $150) you’ll be able to view text messages, emails, incoming calls, a pedometer, music controls and a myriad of other apps on your wrist. If the Apple rumors prove true, we suspect that Siri® will also be wristwatch-enabled. Wearable computing devices are a critical area of future-tech to watch (pun intended). – Bryan, Developer
- NFC (near field communication) finally gains real traction in the States. Firms that have seen NFC success overseas are infiltrating the US (such as UK firm Proxama), and others are making international headway. Samsung and Google NFC-enabled devices are gaining market share. Developers and manufacturers have NFC applications poised for disruption. All things considered, 2013 looks to be the year of the perfect storm in NFC. Sensor technology will continue to disrupt the learning and gaming industries. Leap, for example, has introduced a different way for developers and designers to create with its ability to bring gesture control to any computer. Microsoft is also expected to announce its Xbox 720 and Kinect 2.0 at E3 this year, with speculators noting major hardware and software upgrades, including better tracking (four players at once) and accuracy. – Kristi, Analyst
- You move to the cloud. That is, if you haven’t yet. Even with several, high-profile outages in 2012, 2013 will see more and more companies, especially startups, offloading their infrastructure needs to cloud solutions like Amazon Web Services. Is it right for you? Read up. Think about hedging your bets by spreading your sites and apps across multiple cloud solutions and taking a look at the services offered by companies like Rightscale to help manage these solutions for you. – Clint, Lead Developer
- You adopt an all-screens approach to digital marketing. While an excellent desktop website presence will still be crucial to any organization’s marketing mix, organizations will have to offer their customers a quality experience on whatever device they’re choosing to use. A multi-platform, multi-screen strategy will be essential to business success in 2013. Responsive websites will solidify their placement as the new standard. We also expect to see more companies diving head-first into building robust, native applications, however, seeking to hang their hat on their apps as the flagships of their digital presence, versus the web. – Dan, Developer
- Big data buries us this year, if we let it. The advent and rapid evolution of the web has allowed us to see new data sources come online in droves. Your organization is likely swimming in data that could help pave the way for a fruitful year. Start with the basics. Are you collecting your web and apps analytics data? Gather it. Any action that a customer takes with your organization should be captured if possible. Filter and prepare it. Determine what data is uniquely valuable to your business. Toss out the rest. Analyze what you’ve got left. Use the results to make decisions to improve your business. Put the resources behind this process to automate what you can and be ready to scale it. Repeat. Prosper. – Katie, Director
- The line between “advertising” and “engagement” disappears completely. Social advertising platforms have proven their worth in 2012. These platforms now clearly have a way to make money – and with it, they have the attention of investors. But in 2013, will they still have the attention of their users? This year, marketers will need to get creative in ensuring they’re part of the conversation, rather than interrupting it. Interruptions will be ignored. The most popular accounts will be those that realize advertising and engagement go hand-in-hand when it comes to social media. – Sarah, Analyst
- Executive leadership structures get a shakeup, as we see CMOs gain authority. Traditionally, the Chief Information Officer holds the technology purse strings within an organization, but in 2013, we’ll see a definitive shift in power and budget. You can expect less and less separation between the information technology and marketing spheres. As tech tools become increasingly easy to understand and implement, the Chief Marketing Officer will have to step up their game, and as a result, attain more decision-making authority in shaping their organization’s future. – Lawrence, Business Development
- And you can forget about “new” media. 2013 will be the year that we all come to the realization that people who open their mail also have Facebook accounts, and people who watch TV commercials also have mobile devices. It’s no longer “traditional” versus “new,” or “digital” versus “print.” The best companies will be those that embrace and champion a completely integrated marketing message, and seek to deliver that message across multiple platforms (complementing each other), as the most effective and efficient way to communicate with their customers. – Jon, Founder & Managing Partner
Do you agree with our predictions? Is there something you think will have a major impact in 2013 that we’ve completely missed the boat on? Let us know in the comments below.