In a previous post, we began pondering what the big areas of innovation might be in 2014, and how social media is either the driver of those innovations or an essential part of them. Today we delve into Part 2 of our journey into the social future.
Drones & Robots
As the “Internet of Things” develops, will your refrigerator have a Twitter account? How else do you want it to tell you you’re low on cheese? More and more, our devices and appliances are taking the form of robots. These robots, from your heating & air system to your Roomba to that fridge, will be able to communicate with you. And in 2014, communication means social.
The word “drone” was secured into our vocabulary in 2013. Amazon plans on delivering packages to your home via drone in the next 5 years. DHL and UPS are testing their usage as well. And because they can be flown using GPS with no remote pilot needed, they’re basically robots in the sky.
The uses for drones are legion. Louisiana uses them to hunt down feral pigs. They gather storm info, do 3D mapping, track wildlife migration, apply pesticides and fertilizer to fields, hunt for missing people, report traffic and news, etc. Some misguided souls have already been arrested for using them to fly cellphones and tobacco to pals in prison. Good or bad, the FAA expects 7,500 drones or more in our skies by 2020.
Again, the data feeding these drones and robots, and the instructions to them, will no doubt come from social sources. You’ll be tracking those packages flying to your house on your Facebook mobile app. That fridge of yours will not only tell you it’s low on cheese, the grocery store follows your fridge and will prep your order for you.
The Collaborative Economy
Seriously, how often do you use that chainsaw you own? In the new collaborative economy, that chainsaw would join a collection of community tools managed online so members can get what they need, and only when they need it. This concept, being embraced by the likes of longtime social analyst Jeremiah Owyang, is being built on foundations of social connectivity.
The industry is estimated to be worth over $26 billion as people increasingly place practical usability over own-ability. One Berkley study contents that one properly shared car can eliminate the need for 9 owned cars. Airbnb contributed $632 million in economic activity in New York in just one year. Collaboration is, almost by definition, efficiency.
What’s necessary for collaboration? It’s the ability to easily make connections and easily conduct conversations of course. And we expect to see social’s use for collaboration purposes explode in 2014, both as individuals increasingly participate in the sharing economy and as enterprise organizations instill internal social network usage into their culture and use external social for collaborative product development with customers.
The Altered Enterprise
2013 has truly been a year of disruption for the enterprise. Consumers empowered by social are turning entrenched organizational, technological, personnel, and process practices on their heads. These changes are challenging, sometimes even scary. But perhaps the corporation was long overdue for innovation. 2014 will be the year those innovations will move from talk and speculation to real action taken.
The cloud changed IT’s world in short order. 60% of current small-to-medium businesses are using cloud services and 72% are virtualizing significant portions of their servers. Tech is gradually becoming marketing’s responsibility, as it’s increasingly used to achieve business objectives. The roles of the CMO and CIO are changing, hopefully into new productive partnerships. The cloud is how machines and systems can connect (at workable scale and cost), gather and crunch the waves of big data ahead, and make it practically available to end-users throughout the organization.
In 2014, those cloud-based marketing and CRM “machines” will get fully deployed. Finally, the wealth of customer data available through social will have a place to go. And it will have a purpose, used for customization, personalization and improved user experiences the likes of which have never before been seen. Much of the resulting value will be delivered to the customer over social.
And in 2014, the socially enabled enterprise will move from vision to accepted best practice as varied concerns like R&D, product development, human resources, sales, customer service, supply, billing, shipping, etc. all tap into social data for a unified, clear view of who they’re interacting with. We will finally, convincingly know our customers.
Probably most intriguing is the understanding that much of the innovation we’ll see in 2014 has yet to be conceived, either in reality or in the imagination. That’s how fast we’re moving. And if history is any indicator, social will be a driving force or key component.
Photo: Sufi Nawaz, stock.xchng