Some thoughts on tech and digital for 2015

I was delighted to take part in the Irish Digital Outlook 2015 released this week. This is my contribution to Shane O’Leary’s annual digital trend forecast. Download it here.

Digital / Social Marketing

So much has been said about the collapse of Facebook’s organic reach for brand posts over the last 12 months, but I think most clients are still unaware of what this means for their brand. Either that or they’re in denial. I think that 2015 will be the year that SMEs are finally forced into looking at Facebook for what it now is, a paid marketing tool.

By still seeing it solely as a free communication platform, not only are brands largely wasting their time and effort, but they are ignoring the potential of using the platform as a great way of running well-targeted, cost-effective digital ad campaigns.

Hopefully brands will also start considering the potential of moving some of their customer engagement from social channels to their own websites, where they are the ones ultimately in control of the relationship. The benefits of creating a space where customers can interact with a brand on their own site, not to mention the possibilities of owning their own customer data and using that via email and mobile, will hopefully become more obvious.

Video Advertising

Video advertising will continue to grow in popularity and will become more and more accessible to smaller brands. Expect to see smaller agencies beef up there video production capabilities, and some larger agencies maybe even distinguishing their video production service from the rest of their operation to differentiate between the quick-to-turnaround videos made for social, and more high-end TV quality videos that could be sold as a standalone service. Also, expect Facebook’s amped up video function to steal some of YouTube’s thunder.

Tech / Mobile Platforms

There’ll continue to be a lot more experimentation from the big players in the tech / mobile space, capitalising on their resources and user base. Uber for example are testing out a courier service as well as offering lunch and grocery deliveries in some markets. Most of these types of platforms are still finding out the different ways they can improve users’ lives and what’s actually within their range of capability. In the same vein, I imagine that we’ll continue to see a lot more moon-shot projects from the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon to add to the self-driving car, virtual reality and drone projects we saw in 2014 respectively.

In a music sense, Spotify will have to fend off a new streaming service from YouTube, and expect to see a revamp of iTunes as well, more than likely integrating the Beats Music streaming platform in some form, with a fresh emphasis on visuals and premium content.

Apple Pay will roll out globally and hopefully paying for goods with your smartphone will at least start finding some mainstream adoption. Hopefully we’ll see an Android NFC alternative too.

Mobile Hardware

From a handset point of view, it looks like it’ll be a tough year for Samsung. The Korean giants are being squeezed from both the high and low end with Apple introducing larger screens and making their OS more flexible, and a host of decent quality Chinese Android manufacturers launching their models in the West. Expect to see decent spec Android devices from the likes of Xiaomi and OnePlus on sale for as low as €300. That’ll give some people a tough decision over whether they really need to be shelling out upwards of €700 or tied to a mortgage-like contract with the latest iPhone.

Wearables & the Internet of Things

From a Wearables point of view, I’m not sure we’ll see too many things that break away from the niche / novelty realm. Apple Watch is due in the Spring but I really don’t see too much potential in the smartwatch space in its current form. As long as a smartwatch still needs to be connected to a smartphone to work, it’s nothing more than an accessory.

What I’m much more interested in however, are iBeacons and ‘Nearables’, sensors that interact with the smartphones we carry, as opposed to sensors that we wear. There’s a whole host of interesting players in this space and I really hope we start seeing some real world examples of this type of technology in a retail capacity. The potential there is huge.