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Another roller-coaster year ahead in digital technology

More predictions for marketing using digital technology platforms in 2012

Wow: it’s 2012. Now thoughts naturally turn to the future. What might this year hold for the world of Digital Marketing? Of course none of us knows for sure. The rapid pace of change and the accompanying opportunities and threats facing players in the digital/tech space are, in large part, what makes it all so exciting. And hard to predict. But it’s always fun to guess…

I used to think that being a futurist would be quite a good gig; you know: fly in to somewhere nice, speculate a little about what might happen, pocket the fee, then fly out and keep a low profile elsewhere while none of it came true…?

I’ve realised though, that to do this you’ve really got to keep running (see George Clooney’s character in the excellent Up In The Air. In reality, one is inevitably going to meet some of the same people again (if only in social media) and risk looking stupid…

So maybe it’s better to look at least 10 years ahead. For Technology and Digital Marketing, this is quite tempting and indeed easy (loads of touchscreens, perfect Voice Recognition - “say a command” - so not worth taking typing lessons after all, phew), Search Engines that really know what we’re looking for, all TV web-enabled, chips in our bodies, electric cars that actually work, organ replacement for everyone, domestic robots to do all those boring jobs, climate control, manned Mars Mission etc.).

But still the lure of predicting things that actually might happen in the next 12 months is strong, and I’ve been wrong before so here goes anyway... I predict we’ll see major developments in 2012 in the areas of:

The Cloud

We'll see further growth in adoption by large and small companies and consequent security concerns; not least from the trend to ‘Bring Your Own Toy’ to work. IT departments will survive as a result.

Even in the biggest enterprises, the days of the IT Director saying: “Leave your own phone/ iPad/ memory stick at home!” appear to be over. The IT professionals seem to be accepting reality but of course someone still needs to worry about the downside; indeed as use of the Cloud grows and hackers get ever more ingenious, the threats to corporate data integrity and security are greater than ever, which requires IT experts, even if someone else is now doing the ‘daily backup’…

Devices

Look out for new Android phones and Tablets, from Samsung and of course Motorola Mobility (aka “Google-ola”) using the new Android 4.0 (‘Ice Cream Sandwich’) OS. Early reviews of Samsung Galaxy Nexus have been generally positive.

The Amazon Kindle is looking well placed to secure the lower end of the tablet market at prices no-one else can match (because no-one else can get the media revenues from them that Amazon can).

Meanwhile at Apple, iPad 3 (March/ April) and iPhone 5 (mid-year) will doubtless amaze us as promised. NFC (=Near Field Communications, a short-range wireless technology which is the foundation of the Google Wallet mobile payments system) will soon be standard on new smartphones which are rapidly becoming ‘the remote control for our lives’ .

Microsoft is back

Windows 8 looks like a major return to form, especially on tablets where Microsoft will actually challenge iPad in 2012; Windows Phone and Xbox 360 are looking good and Bing is gaining search market share both from Yahoo! and, crucially, from Google. However it looks like the end of the road for RIM of Canada, makers of BlackBerry; a likely outcome is break-up and sale as the mobile market consolidates. The new Nokia Lumia smartphone is not yet making the waves in Europe that Nokia had been hoping for. Nokia is likely to survive by focusing on the developing world where it still has a strong market position.

Social Media backlash

Social networking is certainly here to stay but, for marketers, the hype of recent years has arguably not been justified; in 2012, CFOs will be robustly challenging the effort/cost employed in attracting and maintaining fans and followers. Finance guys (rightly) look for revenues and assets. And at the end of the day, your Twitter followers and your Facebook fans don’t even ‘belong’ to you… which leads us to...

Facebook reaches 1 billion users worldwide

Facebook will no doubt ‘bust a gut’ to get to the magical 1 billion users in 2012. The much-heralded Facebook IPO is likely to be the biggest of the year, but, I expect, at well below the rumoured valuation levels (some forecasters have suggested figures in excess of $100 billion).

Timing is everything, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg is well aware, having delayed the IPO several times already. Post-IPO, the game will change for Facebook, which may struggle to deliver the short-term gains that Wall St will demand. Growth must slow at some point. But Mr Zuckerberg may be consoled by the knowledge that he is one of the very richest people on the planet…

So there you have it. Bold predictions and several hostages to fortune. Comments welcome. Have a great 2012! I'm off to the airport…

This is an extended version of a post that first appeared on http://mikeberryassociates.com.

By Mike Berry

Mike Berry is a UK-based Digital Marketing Blogger, Trainer and Consultant. You can follow Mike on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn. Mike is Course Tutor on the IDM (Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing) Diploma in Digital Marketing and the IDM's Complete Digital Marketing 3-day professional course; author of ‘The New Integrated Direct Marketing’, (Gower) and a Partner at Aprais, a global agency/client relationship management consultancy. View Mike's company blog at http://mikeberryassociates.com.

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