Trend update since last year’s future report

Is the IoT a hit and what about smart devices and the sharing economy? The Schibsted Products and Technology team helped us sum up some of the issues that they covered in last year’s report to see what happened.

New wave of start-ups doing one thing really well

The ongoing price war between Amazon Web services, Google and Microsoft for the dominant position in the cloud space, continues to bring prices down with new advanced offerings from the big players. At the same time the number of open APIs is growing, and this will continue to inspire 3rd party contribution on top of platforms operated by large players. There is also a new intelligent layer with tools emerging to orchestrate the large distributed computing and storage power of the cloud more efficiently and flexibly. These trends will result in a new wave of “no-stack” start-ups, i.e. companies that focus on doing only one thing really well and use other services for everything else

Always connected with smart devices

The official release of Apple Watch in 2015 marked the start of wearable commercialization. The competition to become “the next operating system” is on between Apple, Google and Microsoft. Now major high-tech players are starting to invest heavily into wearable smart devices and the numerous smart device projects on KickStarter show that the proliferation is approaching, leading to exponential growth of applications. Smart devices will keep us always connected to the Internet – “always on” – and will therefore collect much more data from our daily lives.

Data science – now for everyone

Data science is becoming an integral part of product development. And more advanced algorithms are available via off-the-shelf products. This enables companies further down in the value chain to use data science without extensive knowledge of underlying algorithms and companies can better focus on delivering good user experience. At the same time, the increasing attention to privacy and user aversion to intrusive data collection and application features, fuel the usage of anti-data analytics. On the other hand, users will require better transparency about how their data are collected and applied.

IOT – Personalization in the physical world

The emerging smart home had Internet connectivity embedded in everyday objects such as light bulbs, thermostats and control systems to facilitate control and coordination among objects. Now the concept is getting mature with commercial product releases from GE, Philips, Sony and Xiaomi. IoT will see extensive usage in both enterprise and consumer products with smart cars being the next area after smart home to get into commercialization. IoT is going to vastly increase data available real time to business and consumers, and personalization will move into the physical world. Different people might see different ads on outdoor banners – everyone having a personalized environment around them wherever they go.

The sharing economy keep disrupting

The strong economic drivers from efficiency will help the sharing economy models disrupt even bigger parts of the “ownership economy”. Uber’s 40 billion USD valuation shows that the capital markets have strong faith in this model and more traditional B2C verticals will face competition from the sharing economy model. More tools and supports have become available for building these products, and differentiation is the key to success going forward to survive. Some peer-to-peer platforms must first resolve the regulatory pushback (e.g. transportation permits, lodging tax, financial transaction oversight), and provide more end-to-end tools and services to ease individual compliance requirements.

User curation and cross-screen shopping in e-commerce

Customer expectations for quick delivery and hassle-free returns, combined with economies of scale, favor established players such as Amazon and create high barriers to enter the e-commerce area. There are two long known ways to differentiate from competition, and both still work: Focus on service – Amazon is pushing service to a new level with Prime Local Stores and Home Services. Focus on price – Alibaba and the hype of shopping directly from China proves that the low-price driver still works too. But first mover advantage helps local leaders win over Amazon in their local markets. Etsy, as the sole star in niche e-commerce, hints that the key to success is a discovery model powered by user curation, not just a niche product collection. Cross-screen shopping will soon be the new standard consumer behavior pattern, with more and more buying intention starting on mobile. And the emergence of call-to-action ad formats for e-commerce with one-click buying can change the e-commerce dynamics and challenge Amazon.

Identified web more crucial than ever

Login and identity data are more crucial than ever. Behind lies the urge to deliver the best possible personalized services and offers, and the fact that cookies are dying as traffic moves to mobile (apps) and wearables. Identity data is applied in social network and media personalization and targeted advertising. Large players are increasingly conscious to fully own it, and new industries, like telecom players, are entering the game. Login also becomes more important to advertising, as adblocking goes mainstream. On long-term a distributed identity, i.e. an identity solution that does not require one single company or institution as the central operator, built on the Blockchain infrastructure (a technology originated from bitcoin), might gain large scale traction.