2014 Tech Predictions

2014predictions-1

Top 10 technology ‘probables’ and ‘should happens’ in the UK in 2014.

I promised myself that I would never write a ‘top 10 something or other list’ and then post to Twitter, but if you can’t beat them, join them.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

1. Shoreditch may not (well, is most likely not) the centre of the UK’s digital universe. Hard to believe though it is, there are other locations in the UK, indeed in London, that also seem to produce some interesting businesses without the incessant over-marketing of E14. There are, of course, some great businesses in Shoreditch, but you don’t actually have to be there to be successful, despite what everyone tells you. You heard it here first!
2. Social data applications will become much more important, monetised and valued by the corporate world. I still see social networks in their very early stages of development, they are by no means mature. Increasingly, corporates will start to assemble their own data structures that centre on data generated by the social ecosystem. Combined with their existing corporate data, they’ll be able to build data structures that enable deep knowledge of existing and prospective customers and align products to them. This means tangible improvements in business productivity and realizable savings in business processes. Undoubtedly, because they stand to gain the most soonest  – the insurance and banking sectors will lead the charge.
3. Big Data will get a new name. At least, I hope it will. At present, it is the name given to “a lot of data that we’d rather not throw away but we don’t quite know what to do with, at least not yet“.  Quite how database, cloud storage and hardware manufacturers will pivot to this new reality of actually defining what value there may be in ‘big data’ is a confounding question that will drive the acquisition of smaller data analytics companies by the main players, through the roof and beyond.
4. Apple will be fine. Really they will. So too will Facebook, and shock of shocks, so will Twitter.
5. Tony Bates will be named as MSFT’s CEO; Bates is British, so that counts as the UK. Bill Gates will not be named CEO although he will name Bates as the new boss, and remain as Executive Chairman. Steve Ballmer will move into the VC space and drop a load of dough on some very esoteric projects that, initially at least, no-one gives a hope in hell’s chance of working. But work they will, and when they do, all the journalists who have given him such a hard time will deny ever having wronged him – in spite of his fantastic YouTube video in which he depicts a power-crazed dictator, which of course, he is not. Well, not for much longer.
6. Medical and well-being solutions will be central to the wearable technology that CES promoted beyond rational excuse. Indeed, I think the bio-tech space will be turned on its head as the economic realities of dealing with long term, chronic medical conditions will come home to roost. The cost of managing diabetes alone exceeds $170 billion annually in the US. It’s estimated that at least 30% could be saved just by helping sufferers change their lifestyles. Don’t be surprised to see a load of clever stuff from the UK and Germany in this sector.
7. Video will remain the killer data format – in that it will be killer for consumers, who will continue to consume video content with abandon, and killer for network carriers and MNOs, because they’ll still not get a penny for the content that costs them so much to deliver.
8. The matter of internet Privacy will rear its innocent head on an almost daily basis, yet little will change as the increasingly aware thought leaders from the consumer base realise that there are no free lunches on the web, search is free so long as consumers are prepared to share their data. Ditto social. Ditto apps. The paltry efforts of legislation will do little to damage the treasury coffers of the main players – so in short, privacy will remain an issue that will not be fixed. Instead we’ll see a stalemate.
9. Mobile payments will flourish as the humble mobile finally morphs into one of those clever gadgets from I-robot.
10. Innovation will slow as hardware becomes constricted by processor and battery technology limitations.

WHAT COULD HAPPEN

1. UK government stops spending a fortune artificially creating free trade zones in derelict parts of the capital and starts to make investments in business across the UK with the view that a meritocracy is probably preferable to a bunch of under-funded, badly located and naïve businesses.
2. Individuals will have the right to charge for their online data and have greater control of who gets to see what. Ultimately, personal data will become the currency that it already is, but consumers will have the chance to see some value from their content, networks and ideas.
3. All governments globally will ban the phrases “big data” and “the internet of things” and mandate that people who have no idea about how data is harnessed to deliver personal and enterprise value, to be quiet on pain of incarceration, or even death.
4. Apple will be fine. Really they will. So too will Facebook, and shock of shocks, so will Twitter.
5. MSFT will finally break up into a number of distinct companies and start to re-invent itself as the pioneer that it once was. The removal of the OS and Office stipends (read ‘monopolies’) will force the devolved indepedent businesses to deliver the innovation and value that they once did during the 1980s and 1990s.
6. Global governments will finally recognise that there are global diseases for which they could find effective global cures and management strategies; as a result, they will learn to collaborate and share knowledge with each other and the major bio/pharma companies. The net impact will be a global reduction in healthcare costs and an increase in quality of life for every citizen on the planet. As an aside, there will be apps for those who are addicted to their digital devices, and the The Priory will add to its roster of addiction treatments by running pioneer cold turkey retreats for those who have lost the ability to think or do for themselves in the real world.
7. Content producers and creators will have a ‘light bulb’ moment in which they finally figure out that content should not be stuck onto YouTube for free as it will inevitably ruin the long term health of of the content industry, and leave “Mitty the Kitty” and facile Xbox and Playstation gaming ‘celebrities’ as the headline performers in the Royal Variety Performance. Actually, come to think of it, that may not be such a bad thing.
8. Governments will mandate all data driven businesses to offer all users the ability to opt out of data sharing and retain their rights to personal information privacy. Rather than fining any wayward constituents – their propositions will be banned from use within the jurisdiction that they’ve contravened. This will have far-reaching impact on valuations of digital businesses as investors will be forced to adopt the rather racey ‘does it make any real money or does it stand a chance of doing so‘ question. Radical I know.
9. ‘Normal’ people will just leave their cell phones off some of the time, revert to human interaction and conversation and not constantly live their lives in an artificial onliine world of memes, memories, avatars and shallow celebrity. For data on those who don’t, see “6.”
10. Innovation will be driven by real-world needs and value, not ‘hit and hope’ concepts that have no relevance, utility or value for anyone. People will realise that they only use about 10% of the total functionality of the devices and applications that they own, as such, a new dawn of building what people want will break out all over the digital world.

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