Meta-trending: The Movements Behind the Lists

Parsing the Big Shifts in Digital Marketing

By Published on . 11

Judy Shapiro
Judy Shapiro
This year started with a particular abundance in "top 10 trends" list -- best digital tech, worst tech, best lessons learned from Google, hottest social media trend that will change our lives, you get my point. The more lists I saw, the more I realized they seem to look alike.

For fun I decided to put a bunch of the lists together and I was not too shocked to realize that there was a commonality to the lists. They didn't actually give us "trends" but rather lists of the most interesting digital/ tech "stuff" we'll see in 2010 centered around (note my very technical language here):

  • "Mobile" stuff: hardware, commerce, computing and marketing
  • "Search" stuff: real time, social, semantic
  • "Cloud" stuff: for consumers and businesses
  • "Social media" stuff: the list here goes on and on ...

These lists left me unsatisfied because I wanted to know about the trends that shaped which technologies made the lists. In order to get at that, I had to catch my breath (after all -- this is really cool technology), take a step back and see what the trends are that transcend all the "stuff." Here's what revealed itself to me from the 30,000-foot view:

1. Consumers will become 'pull' savvy

In this trend, we see consumers becoming more specific as to what they want from their online experience and more demanding of companies. Online visitors will pull content, video, communications, mobile apps, music even "trust" to suit their whims. They will also demand that companies deliver what they ask for, in real time. CRM will give way to CDM -- customer demand management -- across the digital landscape. Some exciting applications might include:

  • Consumer-controlled interface for customized delivery of online ads
  • Mobile computing and geo-sensitive services
  • The ability for people to download and print their own products; auto parts, jewelry, and even the kitchen sink with rapid prototyping, e.g. like RepRap, a self-reproducing printer. (Thomas A. Easton, "The Design Economy," PDF link)
  • Commerce technologies that allow users to pull trust credentials anytime during an online transaction (not just at the end of a transaction as it often the case now with the padlock only showing up on "secured" pages)

The biggest upside of this trend for business is that "free on the internet" will finally revert to a sane model that balances free with paid stuff because this approach provides a solid platform for monetization.

2. Aggregation of digital information and communications

The cacophony of information and communications options can overwhelm even the most advanced of users. When the sheer volumes of data are measured in zettabytes, future battles will be around who will provide these aggregation services which, I suspect, will be paid. One can see the battle lines being drawn now between:

  • Unified communications platforms
  • Unified identity management platform (e.g. single sign on)
  • Unified search platform incorporating real time/social networking search
  • Unified services in the clouds

The pitched battles between large tech behemoths and clever startups will accelerate because in this battle, winner takes all. After all, how many aggregation points will "Judy Consumer" need?

3. Social networks will lay the seeds for the next-generation web, aka 'The Trust Web'

Social networks did not just explode on the scene because they were fun (though they are) or because consumers had better PCs with better connections (though they do) or even because of how clever all the social networks were at gathering users (though they most certainly were).

No. In my opinion, social networks emerged so expansively because they fill a critical gap in the ecosystem of the internet -- they filled the online trust gap. Just as in the real world where our social networks are the bedrock of our lives, forming the trust circle that helps and advises us, online social networks satisfy that same need, providing a digital circle of trust. One could even say that the need to create online trust is more urgent, as so much can be cloaked and forged, such as identities, content, communications.

This is why I believe that the moniker Web 3.0 will give way to concept of The Trust Web. Social networks whet our appetites for trust as an active part of the online experience and not as it is today, a security risk mitigation interaction (e.g. "will this site steal my information"). This trend impacts so many of the technologies we see on the list:

  • Privacy must evolve to mean identity management with a cogent system for identity management
  • Semantic technologies need to introduce trust credentials because not all data is created or trusted equally
  • New technologies for expanding online commerce trust in mobile and on the web require technologies around content verification; (e.g. is that an authentic BBB logo I see?)
  • Realtime search centered on a social network architecture, (e.g. your search begins within your own trusted social networks)
When you take a step back, we realize that Judy Consumer is actively evolving the B2C approach we have known for years to a C2B (consumer to business) model. She won't wait for companies to deliver the web her way -- she will go out and create it for herself. I can hardly wait.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Judy Shapiro is senior VP at Paltalk and has held senior marketing positions at Comodo, Computer Associates, Lucent Technologies, AT&T and Bell Labs. Her blog, Trench Wars, provides insights on how to create business value on the internet.
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