12 Most Important Technology and Business Trends for 2012
2011 saw the continued emergence of four companies: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. These companies did nothing less than redefine business. Now, buoyed by the success of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, companies of all sizes are fundamentally rethinking how they do business. They are creating vibrant ecosystems, and in the process, reaping big rewards. The world business continues to evolve rapidly and in unforeseen ways.
Here are 12 trends you must understand to survive in today’s increasingly fragmented and dynamic economy.
1. Continued dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google
We have entered the Age of the Platform and many companies have started embracing ecosystems, partners, and crowdsourcing. Those who believe that there will be “one winner” from the Great Tech War of 2012 are in for a surprise. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will each dominate, but in separate areas.
We’re beginning to hear a great deal of buzz about the coalescence of social, local, and mobile (aka, SOLOMO). The three emphases are converging, bringing a completely different and ubiquitous experience to the always-connected masses. Don’t think for a minute that companies such as Amazon doesn’t understand this fundamental shift.
3. Big business gets more social
Whether it’s on Pages for Google+ or the recently announced Twitter branded pages, expect the last dominoes to fall. Those big and large businesses loathe to embrace social media will realize that they’ll have to get with the program—or else.
4. The un-death of privacy
Facebook won’t be able to dodge the privacy bullet forever, especially when (as reported) it goes public. And privacy may wind up being the social networking giant’s Achilles’ heel. Others are trying to capitalize on Facebook’s less than stellar track record on the issue. For instance, a recent LifeHacker piece reports that developers have launched fPrivacy, “a new Chrome add-on that gives you granular control over the permissions that Facebook apps request when you add them to or authorize them to access your account.”
5. Significant consolidation and M&A activity
Expect Netflix, Hulu, and other standalone products and services to be absorbed by larger companies. Rumors are swirling that Verizon will gobble up Netflix, especially since Netflix’s stock price has dropped by more than 60 percent from its high. Apple’s iCloud, Amazon’s Fire, and Google’s play in movies will make it harder and harder for video-specific sites to survive.
6. The arrival of mobile payments
You can now pay for Apple products by yourself if you have an iPhone and the Apple Store App. Jack Dorsey’s Square has even more ambitious plans: to turn your phone into your own portable payment system.
7. A more semantic web
Semantic technologies—i.e., those that enable data to be understood across multiple languages—are becoming more prevalent. Case in point: Teenagers are building apps that make sense of increasingly noisy search results.
8. Twitter grows up
Twitter’s recent redesign is a clear attempt to mimic the functionality and success of Facebook, LinkedIn, and other powerful platforms. This is no accident. It’s common for tech companies to make pretty significant changes once they’ve reached critical mass. And Twitter has certainly done just that, buoyed recently by a large cash infusion of a reported $300M.
9. A continued drop in traditional index searches
We know that people are more prone to do traditional index searches on desktops and laptops than mobile phones. (By some estimates, only one percent of an individual’s time on a mobile device is spent doing searches.) As we spend more time on the latter than the former, fewer people will use search engines. This is a big reason that Google has made such large bets with Android and Motorola. A bigger bet in the form of a Google-owned tablet may be forthcoming.
10. The continued demise of old new tech heavyweights
Don’t expect any magic turnarounds from RIM, HP, AOL, and Yahoo! Android will continue to steal mindshare away from BlackBerry. AOL’s recent restructuring is unlikely to return it to prominence.
11. The rise of content curation and aggregation
Overwhelmed with content? You’re not alone. Engulfed by tweets, posts, podcasts, videos, and the like, consumers are looking for a simple means to stay relatively informed. Apps such as Zite and Google Currents provide a simple means to consume content while on a mobile device.
12. The continued emergence of new business platforms
More and more companies are building platforms – and adding planks. Force.com and Jive Software are but two examples of emerging business platforms and powerful ecosystems that have stalwarts such as Microsoft scrambling to catch up.
These are just some of the more interesting trends for 2012 from my perspective, many culled from my most recent book The Age of the Platform: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business. But what are some of the top trends you expect to see in your market sector? And how will they impact your business plans?