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Digital trends – the next 5 years

Prediction can be tricky, but today we’re going to look back first. Did predictions made five years ago actually come true? We can get insight on the future from how events have unfolded so far.

Let’s look at the top predictions from five years ago:

1) Mobile would become the dominant way people access the Internet.

That is certainly true. Mobile will overtake desktop internet usage sometime in 2015. The massive availability of internet-enabled handsets bundled with cellphone plans means that everyone has the web and apps that use the internet at their fingertips.

2) That location-based internet would become increasingly important to business

Location is now baked into large parts of the web and the tools which use the internet. It is difficult to avoid.

This has a profound effect on visibility online. Personalization is a seismic shift in search by giants like Google. Searches now serve up results that are not only tied to your own personal search history, but also your personal location. For Google, this just makes sense. A search result for a bakery that is closer to you is more likely relevant than one which is far away.

One thing that did not come true: The ‘Check-In’ failed to gain any ground. Currently not much else than a way to post to your existing social channels, it is used by fewer than 5% of social media users, and is on the decline. Marketers still pay attention, since even this small segment is sometimes an influential one.

3) Social search would start to outstrip conventional search

Social media has proven to be a more powerful engine than even early predictions could have forecast. Facebook has arguably more presence than any other site, with billions of users. The number of hours spent on Pinterest sharing collections outstrips the time spent online on retail sites – and shopping has always been a powerful traffic driver.

Networks of trust reflect the social forces that create communities. Although Google is a trusted name, the results it serves up are always suspect. The reasons for a high ranking are not always apparent. The recommendations of your ‘friends’ online are more apparent. You generally want to do business with a trusted person.

4) Senior adults would increasingly adopt the internet and drive considerable growth.

What has happened?

Seniors have taken to tablet computers in droves – and are driving the enormous growth in this market, notably the iPad. Whether because of ease-of-use, or just weaker eyesight, this larger mobile device format is now one to be ignored at your peril any time a website is being designed.

Five-year forecasts seem to do reasonably well – as long as we stay away from specific services that are ‘hot’ at the moment!

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