What’s Ahead for the Emerging Tech Industry in 2015?

2014 was quite the year. It brought many major tech moments — from company acquisitions (WhatsApp, Nest Labs, and Oculus Rift, to name a few) to new products in the mobile space (like the brilliantly simple Yo app and Amazon’s Fire phone), and a few PR snafus (like Sony’s cyber hack and Uber’s many headlines).

At my company we are constantly evaluating new products and trends in the emerging tech space in an effort to keep us and our skills sharp (though not too sharp — we want leading edge here, not bleeding edge). So using our crystal ball, here are a few predictions from my team on what the rest of 2015 has in store for the tech industry.

Not Feeling So Secure?

It seems like every other day we are scrolling through our news feeds and hearing about another hacking incident. Target, Apple iCloud, and Sony are just a few of last year’s big name victims. 2015 will see companies putting a greater focus on tightening security to avoid data breaches while potentially restructuring their supply chains and providing employees with risk awareness. Meanwhile, consumers are beginning to worry about private information and identity theft, leading to increased demands for protection from cybercrime. We will see increasing talk of regulation around the collection, storage, and use of personal information. Cyber security is going to be a growing and important market to invest in.

Despite big data, this year risks will be higher and people will be increasingly aware that their private information is out there to be leveraged by third parties. Says Dave Carona, senior executive recruiter at AC Lion, “People may take more care to shut advertisers out and be more stringent about their data.” That being said, 18- to 34-year-olds are less likely to care about their security, and this is the main market that advertisers will be trying to reach.

Wearing Our Tech on Our Sleeves

Flying cars may still be a few years off (fingers crossed for an appearance on someone’s predictions list coming soon), but wearable tech is already proving that the future is now. I wrote in a previous article about the wearable tech showcased at South by Southwest. Some of these products have launched (the Logbar ring, a ring with Bluetooth capabilities), while we are still waiting on others like the iWatch (some of my staff got Pebble Smartwatches this year as an incentive — we’ll see how they hold up over time).

While that column focused on wearables from the individual consumer point of view, one can easily see all of the potential for marketers. Thanks to a number of rising trends — big data technology, cloud computing, 3-D printing, and open hardware — the Internet of Things is really going to take off in 2015. We have seen small companies (Nest and Oculus) get bought out and big companies (like Apple and Google) hold their own in the space.

New start-ups are also placing their products on the scene at an increasing rate. We are moving toward a world where everything in our lives, from our homes to our cars and health, will be connected. Expect a great deal of investment in this sector as entrepreneurs and consumers alike get excited about the possibilities of what we can do with hyper-connected, smart inventions.

Apple Pay to Play – Where Cash Is No Longer King

With the launch of Apple Pay, businesses will increasingly invest in NFC technology to meet consumer demand for mobile payment. Combined with the desires of both convenience and security, Apple’s solution will certainly be appealing and likely dominate the growing market. Expect a focus on payment and financial products from investors in the coming year. This is going to be huge for marketers as well. Now transaction-based data will be derived for each mobile user, allowing for better mobile targeting of advertisements.

Consider this scenario: Coca-Cola knows that X users purchased french fries from Y store, so the brand then serves an ad in real-time suggesting the consumer buys a Coke and offers a place at which to purchase it.

Our Heads Are in the Clouds

2015 will be the year people learn to stop worrying and love the cloud. We are going to push the idea of this vast computer network forward and see an increase in cloud adoption from companies and consumers. The cloud has definitely been changing the business landscape, allowing “mom and pop” or smaller businesses compete on a more even playing field with large enterprises. In the past, you needed capital to invest in infrastructure. In the cloud-based world, things work differently; access is simple, and all you need is an Internet connection to set up just about anything.

Cloud-based products will attract capital more than ever as people seek out management and productivity tools. As previously mentioned, an emerging space is going to be smart homes. These intelligent devices can automate our homes through the cloud. For example, Google recently acquired the Nest thermostat for $3.2 billion. With this app, you can control and automate your home’s temperature. You can program it to save energy while you are on vacation, or heat up the house while on your way back; all through your phone. This is just the beginning.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Pictures and videos will continue to dominate user engagement in the year to come. Instagram just overtook Twitter in number of users, clocking in at 300 million to Twitter’s 284 million. With this news, many advertisers will be leaning toward utilizing Instagram for their marketing efforts, and the platform will continue to grow in significance. The average post on Instagram among the top brands had an engagement rate (people that have liked or commented) of 3.31 percent. The average tweet from those brands had an engagement rate (retweets, replies, or favorites) of 0.07 percent.

We Will See What We Want to See

New means of content distribution will rule the digital space in 2015. Expect companies like Vessel and The Chermin Group to challenge traditional content providers with platforms that allow consumers to only subscribe to the content they truly wish to see. Joseph Zubkoff, a recruiter at AC Lion and student in NYU’s digital marketing master’s program, believes that advertisers will have to adjust their approach as “scale and reach won’t be as important as the quality of targeting they will have with audiences on these platforms.”

Go Mobile or Go Home

Love for mobile devices will certainly not wane in the coming year. With customers consuming the majority of their media — and making more of their purchasing decisions on tablets and smartphones, UX for mobile and social engagement will be crucial. Businesses will have to focus on creating useful and usable experiences on mobile. In 2015, you’ll need to always be thinking about your mobile user and invest in analytics to better optimize. We have now reached a tipping point, where marketers and media people will need to think mobile first and Web second. Above all, big data is going to be the primary place to invest, with a huge surge in apps. Considering that more than 60 percent of people access the Internet through their mobile devices, big data will only continue on its fast track to monetization.

In conclusion, all of these growing tech trends have the ability to affect your life in one way or another. Even if you do not consider yourself a “techie,” they can change the way you connect with one another, your spending habits, and how you consume media. You may not even notice the ways that marketers have adapted to target you. It will definitely be an eventful year for advertisers, with increasing opportunities to innovate and reimagine their business models. We live in exciting times, and all predictions aside, I’m sure we have a few surprises in store. Bring it on, 2015.

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