Predicting the future of technology is a fine art indeed.
The invaluable Pew Research Center is as good as anyone at testing the winds to see which way things will go–and the center’s latest report, created to coincide with the World Wide Web’s 25th anniversary, takes a shot at it.
So what will this “Internet of things” look like a decade down the road? Let’s see what “1,867 experts and stakeholders” had to say about it…
Here’s a quick summary in block quote form. The web will:
“…become so deeply part of the environment that it would become “like electricity”—less visible even as it becomes more important in people’s daily lives.”
Doesn’t it already feel that way, though? Let’s get a little more specific with the report’s six basic conclusions:
1. Wearable tech is here to stay
We can all keep laughing at Google Glass, but the fact is clear: more people will keep their tech on their bodies in the future. And they won’t just do it to monitor their own heart rate and running pace: they’ll also use it to monitor “their children or employees, for instance” via sensors on their bodies and in the spaces they inhabit.
Get used to it.
2. Information interfaces will advance–to a point
The clapper was a sign of things to come, people. Touch- and voice-activated tech will become even more commonplace than it is today.
But the brain-driven networks that allow you to control devices with a thought? That’s still science fiction.
3. Nearly all business models will be disrupted
Not only will increased automation and digital security systems play larger roles in most businesses–they will also present new challenges and uncontrollable circumstances. As the researchers put it, “many things won’t work and nobody will know how to fix them”–not even our little green mentors.
“…most of the devices exposed on the Internet will be vulnerable. They will also be prone to unintended consequences: they will do things nobody designed for beforehand, most of which will be undesirable.”
Can you say “tech crisis comms?”
4. Those living “disconnected” lives will be further isolated
Basically, the haves and the have-nots (technologically speaking) will grow further apart. Conflict will increase in areas with limited access to the most important utilities: water and electricity. This will only heighten the need for humanitarian aid and enhance the value of related initiatives.
At the same time, the disabled will make great gains through tech advances–and the companies that provide related products will be front and center.
5. Everyone’s relationship with everything (read: customer service) will change
As the researchers put it, “Products themselves become platforms for relationships between customers and companies.”
Just as social media has allowed for more one-on-one interactions between brands and their followers/customers, the same new tech advances that have so many people concerned about their privacy will also create more personalized and satisfying consumer experiences…for all who are ready to make that jump.
And about that whole “privacy thing” (hi, Snapchat)…
6. Issues of privacy and personal autonomy will only grow more prominent
No, you’re not just paranoid. We’ve all seen the privacy debate heat up, especially in the wake of The Guardian/Edward Snowden revelations about tech companies collecting our data.
Yet, despite what everyone says about how much they value their privacy, repeated studies have shown a surprising willingness to open those personal data vaults for a few dollars off.
From the study: “There will be conveniences and privacy violations…Everything that you love and hate about smartphones will be more so.”
Any marketer will tell you how much that data is worth, but algorithms are not perfect, and we don’t think we’re going too far out on a limb when we predict that many more companies will suffer security nightmares like Target’s.
In other words, get your data breach crisis comms plan in place. And yes, there’s an app for that.
Now what do we think of the study? Any surprises?