The world of technology changes rapidly, and it can be hard for ordinary consumers to keep up with the innovations. A decade ago the iPhone did not exist — now many of us cannot imagine life without one. It was not long ago that attempts to build a tablet computer had been deemed a failure, but now we carry our iPads and Kindles with us wherever we go.
That rapid pace of technological innovation is expected to continue well into the future, and the time to get ready is now. Here are some technological innovations and changes you can expect to see in 2016.
- Content marketing will continue its move to social media. A growing number of consumers get their information — from local news reports and weather to reviews of new products — via social media. Smart businesses will continue to use social media platforms as part of their overall content marketing strategy.
- The importance of user reviews will grow. The growth of review sites like Yelp! and the review section of retailers like Amazon.com is proof that modern consumers rely heavily on what others are saying about the products they plan to buy.
- Retailers will take steps to clean up their user-generated reviews. Amazon.com recently filed suit against dishonest reviewers who offer 5-star reviews for a fee. This trend will continue, as retailers try to make their sites more useful to consumers.
- Messaging is the future of social media. Messaging apps like WhatsApp and SnapChat will become increasingly important in 2016, as young people move their in droves and their elders explore the technology behind these innovations.
- The Internet of things will continue to grow. In the future refrigerator will know when you run out of milk and send a reminder to your smartphone. Devices from toaster ovens to washing machines will be connected to the Internet as the Internet of things reaches maturity.
- Wearables will continue to struggle. The disappointing sales of the much-anticipated iWatch was not a fluke, and wearable devices will continue to struggle into 2016 and beyond.
- The cost of virtual and augmented reality will continue to fall, and these categories could create the newest killer apps. For now virtual reality is prohibitively expensive for many consumers, but that will change rapidly.
- Kids will become a prime target for gadget makers. With kids as young as 5 carrying smartphones, it is easy to see how this trend will play out. App developers will increasingly focus on games and gadgets for the younger set as 2016 gets underway.
- The democratization of the blockbuster will come of age. YouTube and Netflix are already playing a major role in how people get their entertainment, and that trend will continue in 2016.
- Cyber-security will become even more important. High-profile data hacks and security failures will continue to happen in 2016, and the importance of cyber-security will grow even more.
- Crowd-sourcing will continue to change the face of financing. Startups, inventors and entrepreneurs used to be reliant on banks and venture capitalists, but now they can go directly to the public to finance their dreams. The crowd-sourcing trend will continue in 2016, giving even more people access to the startup cash they need.
- Cyber-warfare will become an even bigger threat. The much-touted promise by China to cease its hacking attempts appears to have already been broken, and countries will likely ramp up their cyber-disruption efforts in the future.
- Mobile payments will explode. Mobile payments like Apple Pay may have gotten off to a slow start, but 2016 is looking like a breakout year. More and more banks are embracing the technology, and consumers are starting to get comfortable with the concept.
The world of technology is a notoriously difficult one to predict. You never know when the next disruptive technology will come along, and there are plenty of secret projects taking place in labs around the country. Even so, the trends listed above have a good chance of coming true as 2016 begins.