infoTECH Feature

December 27, 2016

Wrap-Up on 2017 Digital Trends

In the run up to 2017, predictions on trends are overwhelming regardless of the field, channel or geo. Brands express concerns, producers put stakes, startups reap up the results, investors search for the top runners, while experts analyze and make foresights. In this context, the opinion of the latter is the least biased, hence, most valued.

This December we decided to rake up predictions for digital. I chose to look into trends based on the opinion of company founders, data analysts, strategists, senior level marketers, designers and engineers. Thus, we collected a good scope of experts’ predictions on what to expect in 2017.

Here’s a couple of takeaways, in a nutshell:

  1. Design and user experience will rely on principles that were sharpened in 2016: clarity, multichannels, focus on customer, granularity and personalization will rule UI and UX unconditionally.
  2. Old, new and re-emerged technologies from 2016 – AI and ML, VR and AR, social media – will unlock more opportunities for brands and customers’ interactions in 2017 and nurture digital space with alternative channels and more personalized b2b and b2c communication.
  3. Intelligent and self-learning machines, big data processing and enhanced customer experience will determine the R&D and marketing budgets for many companies, from startups to high rollers.

To explain the foregoing, I’ll dive into details.

Web Design in 2017

My business partner and Digiteum co-founder Katherine Lazarevich, design devotee and perfectionist, noted that 2017 won’t bring breaking new trends for UI and UX, but will instead move on the laid-in path taken the previous year.

Efforts in user experience will stay focused on the customer along with better personalization and granularity of the Web.

Failure-mapping – modeling and analysis of customer journey failures – will get more attention and enable creation of more personalized online spaces sensitive to age, language, goals and geo. The prediction made by Philip Reimann from Oxford Dictionaries on the increase of language diversity in the Internet only proves this point.

According to Reimann on Medium, "For many new [Internet] users, English won’t be a native or first language, and so services and products will increasingly rely on localization."

Novel technologies that jump into 2017 will determine the way the Web works and looks. Designers will keep on granulating the Web and will focus on improving the way customers interact with the Web on a micro level – tap, drag, scroll. They will also create brand new ways of interaction based on visual, audial and haptic experience. It’s enough to mention what Disney offers with 3D tactile perception and Here One with augmented audio reality.

Immutable responsivity, in turn, will get to a whole new level. Web design experts remind us that customers already use and communicate with VR devices, AR and intelligent AI-based systems. It makes engineers develop interfaces that are responsive not only to different channels, but also to alternative environments.

Digital Space in 2017

Just a quick peep on Web design foresights for 2017 illustrates how greatly the future of digital rides on new technologies. This is why when I asked seven experts what to expect from digital in 2017, every second comment was about artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual and augmented reality, and technologies that enhance customer experience.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

There’s no doubt that the application of AI will change the world as we know it. The question is how. Adam Benzecrit, co-founder of Sportr, for example, thinks that advanced machine learning opportunities will lead to the point when many systems in various fields will get AI-powered and embedded conversational interfaces. It will inevitably create the need to restructure teams with an AI focus, but also form the basis for an AI-first digital era.

Simon Spyer, co-founder of Conduit, also mentions conversational interfaces based on AI and underlined the value of ML in greater personalization of customer journeys. However, this will also pose a great challenge for customer privacy, since brands will get more instruments that potentially can be intrusive to customers, according to Nigel Gatehouse, CEO at Quant Marketing.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

I’m sure that emerging and re-emerging alternative forms of reality already shape digital space and create opportunities for alternative interfaces and communication channels. Philip Reimann also mentions how the application of VR and AR may nurture education and design. While Nigel Gatehouse focuses more on business prospects.

“In the retail environment, both on and offline, there are a myriad of opportunities to enable customers to experience a 3 dimensional view of how products look in a range of environments and really help them make the right choices. There are fast emerging applications in Education, Military, Healthcare, Sport and Entertainment to name a few,” Gatehouse stated.

Eddie Vassallo, founder of Entropy, names a new term on this account – mixed reality. He uses talking examples of Microsoft’s HoloLens product and Google’s (News - Alert) Tango initiative to show that mixed reality, or enhanced reality, can be much more attractive in many fields for business, education and healthcare. The benefit of mixed reality is clear: there’s no need to fully transform the user’s space and perception as virtual reality does.

Networking, Data and Enhanced Customer Experience

Personally, I believe that social media will pave its way as a marketing and sales instrument for B2C. As a strong power of communication, networking will keep on collecting massive data that later can be analyzed, structured and used by brands for the benefit of both – companies and customers.

On this account, co-founders of Satellite75, Roman Gaponenko and Paul Blundell, have concerns about the way the data from social networks may be used. They mention the phenomenon of “fake data,” or irrelevant content, that circulates in the online space and jeopardizes its credibility and customer experience in general.

However, Roman and Paul are optimistic about 2017. They put hopes on the giants – Facebook (News - Alert), Google, Twitter and Microsoft – and foresee teaming up and enhanced control over data and content streaming online. Fortunately, the founders of a content marketing agency predict that with the help of digital technologies it will be possible to better filter doubtful content and eliminate online noise. As a result, data from social networks will work for creating more relevant customer journeys and, as a result, enhanced customer experiences, not vice versa.

Of course, these are just the hottest bids among many others: chatbots, API-based opportunities and the IoT environment are predicted to take over the interest of both businesses and investors massively. Clearly, it is worth the effort to get back to this conversation at the end of 2017 and check how well the predictions served out. 

Edited by Alicia Young

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