After a tech conference in the city, I came away with four interesting insights into what the next 5 years of tech may look like.
Mobile Friendly to Mobile Only
One of the first major predictions of the next 5 years is that we as a society will move from a world of being mobile friendly to mobile only. Our mobile e-commerce experience will move to a more Tinder-like platform where, like Tinder, you have a single choice option and action at a time. Think about it, Tinder’s major innovation wasn’t that they came up with a dating platform. The innovation that changed the game is that you could swipe left or swipe right with ease to connect with others. What really happened with Tinder was an improvement in navigation; the ingenuity of it was primarily a UX design. What some of us in the tech community are shocked about is that this type of platform is not being utilized by the e-commerce business.
Right now we are in the midst of a technological limitation in the e-commerce industry, and experts predict that it is a hump that we will get over. There will come a time when we open up an application or several, that will show us one product at a time. Each product will be a recommendation based on our past purchases. Then with a single tap we will be able to purchase our product, thus transforming our mobile shopping experience.
Facebook, VR, and Shopping
The second prediction is also related to our shopping experience, and it starts with some of our biggest tech companies like Google and Facebook. Currently company’s like Facebook are investing huge amounts of money into virtual reality company’s like Oculus. What is suspected is not that Facebook is so interested in gaming, but rather it is interested in selling this virtual reality feature to us in the way of allowing us to shop, attend events, concerts, and games all within the comfort of our home. With its 1.2 billion users, Facebook has an enormous opportunity to cater its platform to the public because of its huge supply of data. Quite frankly, Facebook probably knows everything about us, and with that power, comes a huge opportunity.
The Email Upgrade
The third prediction is related to email. And to those who wouldn’t expect it to be placed on this list, hear this, email isn’t dead, its ripe for innovation. Email is going to become the largest transactional platform in the world. Email is the only single ubiquitous communication channel that exists on the planet. The mobile phone works differently, the internet networks works differently, and that’s why applications such as WhatsApp are so huge, so that we can be on different networks and still communicate. But everywhere you go email is run through the same SMTP format.
Think about it, What is the purpose of email? As an internet marketer, if I send you an email, I’m hoping you get it, I’m hoping you click on it, I’m hoping you go to my website, then once you’re on my website I hope you want buy something, put it in your shopping cart, and then I’m hoping that you don’t abandon it. That’s a lot of hopes (about 6). But imagine a world where I send an email, that includes the product that I know you want, the size that you wear, and I provide you, like Amazon, a single one-click purchase. The reality is that the technology for this already exists, but what we need is for more companies to turn on and execute this feature functionality. It is a sound idea and a huge opportunity for companies to monetize their email marketing more efficiently.
The Promise of Personalization
Machines will finally deliver on their promise of personalization. Human driven personalization doesn’t scale. It is simply impossible for us to do it ourselves as there is too much data, too many channels, and too many options. What should excite us about data science, machine learning and AI, is for the potential that they actually could allow internet marketers to actually do our jobs. That includes spending more time on building strategies, creating content and being creative, not building segments and building campaigns where we’re basically playing a guessing game. We are beginning to have enough technology where the machines have enough data to drive an enormous amount of personalization. This is a huge opportunity because it puts us into a position where the machine can become our partner.
I believe that this last point about the machine becoming our partner is the most important. The reason why I say this is because one of the biggest fears is that all jobs will be replaced by machines. While there is some truth to this, we must understand that the situation is not that black-and-white. Technology and machines will get better at doing more and more complex tasks, thus spewing out more useful information. Therefore the role of the human in the ecosystem of work will change. Our jobs will be to interpret that data, and then figure out what to do with it. I believe that machines will become more like our partners, and not just our replacements in the work force in the upcoming decades.