JWT, a global leader in marketing-communications, has released its list of 100 Things to Watch in 2012. The list was compiled by the agency’s JWT Intelligence group, which strives to make sense of the chaos of hyper-abundant information and constant innovation.
“Many of the items on our list reflect broader economic, environmental, technological and social developments we’ve been tracking, while others have potential to ladder up to bigger trends,” says Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT.
Some of the 100 things on the 2011 list included new forms of books, entrepreneurial journalism, long-form content, and 3D printing.
Technology continues to have a prominent presence on JWT’s Things to Watch for 2012. Here are a few of the tech-related items making the list.
Consumers will be accessing music, books, and video on a multitude of Web-connected devices wherever they are.
JWT predicts that the app-fyin of everything is just beginning: “The novelty of apps will wear off as consumers become paralyzed by too many choices.”
Apps for an aging world
Expect more apps aimed at older demographics.
Book club 2.0
Book clubs will use Web tools such as Skype video-calling and social-networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr to talk about books they have read.
Knowledge seekers will look beyond the traditional student-teacher structure. Learning is becoming more democratic as people connect with teachers, hobbyists, and experts looking to share their interests and impart their knowledge.
Vacationers and others will use Sincerely’s Postagram app and Postcard on the Run to turn snapshots into snail-mailed postcards. (The “objectifying of objects” in an increasingly screen-filled world is one of the 10 bigger trends that JWT sees for the year ahead.)
Limited-edition digital works will be accessible on mobile devices, PCs, and connected TVs. And in 2012, Samsung will produce high-res screens for displaying artwork.
The Lytro camera will enable hobbyists to take “living pictures,” that can be refocused by the photographer and viewers—after the image is recorded.
Screened dining and shopping
Interactive screens in restaurants will replace menus and help entertain diners. Interactive touch screens in and outside of stores will allow customers to learn more about specific products, explore the inventory in greater depth, or browse the catalog after hours.
Just as Instagram has transformed the way people show off their smartphone photos, new apps will enable users to add cinematic filters and music to their footage and share it over their networks.
Users of services such as Bubbly will be able to send text carrying sound files from people they follow.
Spoken commands will control everything from thermostats to televisions, perhaps making remote controls obsolete.
Zink (“Zero Ink”) printers use a special thermal paper that doesn’t require ink or toner. Through partnerships with Dell and Polaroid, Zink markets a device that prints photos directly from a camera, anywhere.
The JWT list also includes noteworthy events on the calendar, people to keep an eye on, and things to watch in marketing, retailing, travel, food and sustainability.
You can read the full list of 100 Things to Watch, in the Slideshare presentation below.
JWT, a global leader in marketing communications, has released a report entitled “10 Trends for 2012.” Many of the trends are driven by continuing economic uncertainty, the idea of shared responsibility, and new technology. Some of the trends identified in the report are extensions of trends that started in previous years and are gaining weight and momentum.
You can view the executive summary in the Slideshare presentation below. Four of the trends that we will be highlighting in more detail on this blog are:
The Entrepreneurial Mindset of “Generation Go.” Many twenty-somethings are finding opportunity in economic adversity. JWT notes that “Out of continued joblessness or discontent with the status quo will spring an unprecedented entrepreneurial mindset, enabled by technology that obliterates traditional barriers to entry.” For example, according to a JWT survey, more than half of Millennials in the U.S. agreed that if they lose or job or have trouble finding one, they will start their own businesses. The percentage is up significantly from 25% in 2009.
Reengineering Randomness. As the types of content, experiences, and people we are exposed to become narrower and more personalized, JWT predicts that greater emphasis will be placed on reintroducing randomness, discovery, inspiration, and different points of view into our worlds.
Screened Interactions. More flat surfaces are becoming screens, and more screens are becoming interactive. Marketers will create new ways to use these screens to inform, engage, and motivate consumers.
Objectifying Objects. As objects get replaced by virtual counterparts, people will place new value on the physical and tactile. JWT predicts that we’ll start seeing the creation of motivational objects, that increase the perceived value of digital property. We’ll also see more digital tools that enable the creation of physical things.
Mid-career creative professionals who are figuring out how to re-invent themselves for the latter stages of their careers can take heart in one other trend that JWT identified: Celebrating Aging. JWT notes that “popular perceptions of aging are changing, with people of all ages taking a more positive view of growing older.”
18 percentof executives interviewed said they plan to add full-time staff in the next three months.
4 percentforecast reductions in personnel.
76 percent expect to make no changes to their current staffing levels.
The national study was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service providing interactive, design and marketing professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on more than 500 telephone interviews—approximately 375 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 125 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.
The net 14 percentof executives planning to hire in the first quarter of 2012 is up 10 points from the same time period last year and down six points from the previous quarter.
45 percentof respondents said it’s challenging to find skilled creative professionals today, down 12 points from three months ago.
89 percentof marketing and advertising executives are confident in their companies’ growth prospects for the first quarter, unchanged from fourth-quarter 2011 projections.
Account services, brand/product management, and public relations are the specialties in greatest demand, according to respondents.
“Many companies are looking to refresh their branding to reflect new product and service offerings, as well as take their marketing campaigns to the next level in the year ahead,” said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. “Businesses also may have more budget dollars to invest with advertising and public relations agencies, driving demand for account services and PR professionals.”
When marketing and advertising executives were asked: “In which of the following areas do you expect to hire in the first quarter of 2012?,” their answers were as follows:
Perspectives on Business Growth
Marketing and advertising executives’ confidence in their ability to attract new business remained steady from last quarter: 89 percent of those interviewed said they were somewhat or very confident in their firms’ prospects for growth in the first quarter, unchanged from three months ago.
After attending a recent Display Technologies Conference sponsored by the market-research firm DisplaySearch, technology PR expert Andy Marken sent me an interesting paper entitled, “It’s Not About the Personal Device, It’s About the Personal Content.” In the white paper, he summarized some of the predictions made at the conference and observes that continuing advances in screen technologies may ultimately change how we use computers.
And, he wonders if seeing these advanced screen technologies in movies and TV shows such as “Minority Report,” “NCIS:LA” and “Hawaii Five-O” will help speed mainstream adoption. Here’s a quck rundown of predictions Marken came up with, based upon presentations from the analysts and developers who attended the display technology conference.
Computing power won’t disappear, but will continue to evolve.
Marken writes that, “The IBM PC that recently marked its 30th anniversary looks Stone Age next to our tablet system and smartphone. In another 30 years, even these marvels will join the ranks of memorabilia at the Computer Museum.”
He believes today’s hugely popular tablets and smartphones are just waypoints along the road: “In 30 years, you’ll wonder why you even carried them with you to get your information, news, data, and entertainment.”
The computer as we know it will fade away.
“Why do you need a personal device when cloud computing, cloud storage and virtual computing are here?” asks Marken. The smart network is rapidly rising and an Internet layer protocol called IPv6 has been rolled out globally.
“In its simplest terms, IPv6 is an Internet layer protocol for providing end-to-end datagram transmission across multiple IP networks.” writes Marken. What this means is that: “You’ll have your own phone number (ID) and the network will be smart enough to know where you are so your communications—written, video, audio—can be routed to the nearest enabled device – your car, TV, shopping cart display, fast food digital sign, watch, clock radio, you name it.”
If you start to wonder if technology might be moving too fast, Marken cites statistics that suggest the rate of change will only speed up: “Intel estimates that over the next four years, there will be 2 to 3 billion Internet users (approaching half of the world population). And, there will be more than 15 billion (Internet) connected devices.”
He predicts that as chip sizes continue to shrink and become increasingly complex, we’ll see a healthy mixture of general-purpose and specialty processors that use less and less power to perform more and more tasks: “It probably shouldn’t be too hard for the chip folks to put the- CPU, GPU, video, encryption, baseband and other operations in something so small it will work in anything, everything.” Increasingly, the devices are all connected over the wireless mesh networks to larger and larger “systems” that manage content traffic and store personal information as well as company and general information.
Information will be personalized. Today, people want to control their own information gathering. Interactive display signage kiosks such as the one shown below are an important step in meeting the consumer’s wants/needs. The kiosks allow you to ask questions tailored to your wants and needs and then recommend which products might right for you. These types of kiosks will eliminate the need for the traditional sales clerk. If the kiosks can help you make good buying decisions, the theory is that you will be a more satisfied customer.
“Semi-intelligent signage is already being used around the globe to enable consumers to view and learn more about products and determine which ones they want to purchase,” Marken points out. Some of the more advanced systems even have a virtual mode that shows you wearing or using the product.
Displays will help you make decisions on the go.
A subway-system display island that enables you to use your smartphone to make an instant purchase and have the products delivered to your home is a logical first step. “Consumers will go to a 3D interactive digital sign, make a selection, ‘try it on,’ make the purchase and be on their way. It sure beats shopping with the wife.” writes Marken.
A rudimentary alternative is already being tested in South Korea by HomePlus, one of the country’s largest retailers. It lets you shop at display areas and use your smartphone to scan a barcode to place an order which is delivered to your home. One reason this technology is being tested in South Korea is because by the end of this year, almost half of the 49 million residents of South Korea will have smartphones.
The next steps will be to view the product on digital signage anywhere in 3D, virtually try it on or work with it, and purchase it using your personal ID. Your personal ID could be a scan of the iris of your eyes, a thumbpint, or automatic facial-recognition.
Screens are changing…rapidly.
“A lot of folks say the industry is trying too hard and people just don’t want 3D TV and a bunch of dumb glasses.” say Marken. But he predicts that “In five years, you’ll wonder why people said 3D TV would never take off. You won’t remember being entertained in 2D. Until then, sit back, live with it, enjoy it.”
Although quality 3D content is woefully lacking, and few people like wearing the glasses, these issues are likely to get resolved sooner than we might think. Based on what he learned at the trade show, Marken predicts that as interactive 3D screen technology continues to improve, the demand will grow, and eventually, “They’ll not only be in your family room but everywhere you go.”
Touch screens will also become more ubiquitous. Marken notes that on almost every new system you interact with, you expect to simply tap the screen a few times and get the information you want: “Watch a little kid come up to your notebook and watch them instinctively try to enlarge or shrink pictures with their fingers. Only your TV is a passive screen, but that too will change.”
At the DisplaySearch-sponsored conference, analysts predicted that LCD displays will grow at a compound annual rate of 39 percent through 2014 and there will be screen technologies to keep us entertained everywhere, all the time. Soon, you won’t even think twice about walking past large interactive signs.
“We’re already comfortable digital signage, and just expect it to present information and images in a clean, crisp form,” says Marken. “The use of static printed signs in stores, restaurants, entertainment venues, educational and worship facilities, and businesses are rapidly being replaced with solutions that bring the information to life.”
What sparked all this enthusiasm about new screen technologies and the changing face of computing? Check out the video “A Day Made of Glass” made possible by Corning.
Because a glass company produced it, this video highlights the many different types of glass that will make advances in screen technology possible.
“The thing we noticed in the video is there is computer power everywhere but none of the ‘computers’ we’re used to interacting with today,” says Marken. “And it all looks and feels so natural, so logical. Your information is available to you wherever you are, when you want it…heck, it will probably be telling you before you ask. We’re just not sure who will be storing it all, and managing it all for us.”
Personally, I regard Andy Marken as a credible source. Like me, he’s watched how rapidly technology has evolved just over the past 30 years. We have both witnessed multiple incidents in which skeptics have initially scoffed at certain technologies only to see those same technologies gain widespread acceptance in five years or less.
The most recent example, of course, is the Apple iPad. Remember how it was initially dismissed as “just a larger version of the Apple iPod touch.” That’s one reason I agree with Andy’s assertion that 3D screens will gain widespread acceptance sooner than today’s skeptics might think.
If you enjoy learning about trends, technologies, and ideas that will be shaping our lives and culture, check out the videos posted on TED.com.
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” It originated in 1984 as a conference for leading thinkers in Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and has since broadened its scope. TED now conducts two annual conferences, offers other idea-sharing platforms, and covers topics such as business, culture, science, and global issues.
TED.com was designed as a clearinghouse of free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers. It was also developed to enable curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.
On TED.com, you can watch videocasts of some of best talks and performances from TED conferences. Each talk is no longer than 18 minutes long. The interactive transcripts that accompany the videos enable you to preview the key points in the talk.
Two talks that caught my attention recently were given by sculptor Janet Echelman and author Eli Pariser.
Janet Echelman: Taking Imagination Seriously
In this nine-minute video, self-taught artist Janet Echelman tells the story of her first creative breakthrough into sculpture and how it became a catalyst for monumental artworks that were commissioned in Portugal, Phoenix Civic Space Park, the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and at the San Francisio International Airport.
She recalled walking through a fishing village in India and recognizing the latent beauty and sculptural possibilities in fishing nets. “I’d seen it every day,” she explained. “But this time, I saw it differently—a new approach to sculpture, a way to create volumetric form without heavy solid materials.” With the help of local fishermen, she used the ancient knotting craft to produce a billowing sculptural self-portait entitled “Wide Hips.” Today Echelman is internationally known for her place-making sculptures that transform urban environments.
In this nine-minute video, the former executive director of MoveOn.org , shares insights from his new book: “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You.”
He talks about some of the unintended consequences that are occurring now that web companies use algorithms to predict what type of content they think we want to see while filtering out other information we should see. As as example, he shows the vastly different results two individuals received after searching for the word “Egypt.”
Pariser contends that when online companies “personalize” our content for us (without our knowledge or consent), we get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. He believes this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.
“We really need the Internet to be that thing we all dreamed of it being,” said Pariser. “We need it to connect us all together. We need it to introduce us to new ideas and new people and different perspectives. And it’s not going to do that if it leaves us all isolated in a Web of one.”
In a recent Content Insider newsletter, Andy Marken reported that the state of 3D filmmaking and broadcasting was one of the themes discussed at the 2011 NABShow® April 9-14 in Las Vegas.
NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) was originally formed to advocate for the interests of radio and television broadcasters. But like other associations, they have rebranded some programs to reflect the ongoing convergence in communications technologies. For example, the NABShow is now described as “the world’s largest electronic media show.” The event attracts more than 90,000 attendees from 151 countries and covers filmed entertainment and the development, management and delivery of content across all mediums.
In his newsletter, Marken reports that 3D filmmaker James Cameron chided broadcasters for not moving faster to make 3D content available on a wider range of screens. Here are some of the stats and projections cited at the conference:
There are about 25,000 3D movie screens worldwide (8,000 in the US).
Between 2008 and 2011, there were 160 3D movies released. About 140 3D movies will be released between 2012 and 2015.
In the US, 10 3D TV channels will launch this year; 25 will launch in 2012.
In the US, one-third of households will buy a 3D TV in the next three years.
In Europe, 42% of homes are projected to have 3D TVs by the year 2014.
In 2011, about 95 million 3D devices (including gaming devices, set-tops, and PCs) will be sold.
By 2014, the global installed base is projected to be nearly 900 million 3D-capable devices.
Of course, statistics and projections often turn out to be wildly optimistic. And Marken points out that a lot of these statistics assume that people will either accept the idea of wearing glasses for their viewing or the current “glasses-free” technology will be refined.
He also notes that if one-third of US households buy a 3D TV in the next three years, it means that two-thirds won’t.
Nevertheless, if you’re in the business of producing content, it’s important to pay attention how quickly new forms of technologies might be adopted. And to a certain extent, the adoption rate of 3D-capable devices will depend on the quality and variety of available content.
Other sessions at the 2011 NABShow focused on social media and mobile delivery of video, cloud computing and storage, and how the converging TV and film industries (Tellywood) could optimize their content assets.
There was talk about Google’s plans to produce content for YouTube and discussions of trends in the online video-viewing habits of different generations. More people are watching videos online than ever, but we’re also all watching more video content in general. Right now, people over 18 years old spend an average of five hours a day watching TV compared to three to five minutes a day watching online videos.
By the year 2014, eMarketer analysts predict that more than 90% of people from age 12 to 34 will turn first to the web to watch video content.
WRITERS. When the global marketing-communications agency JWT released its list of 100 Things to Watch in 2011, many items related to the ongoing digitization of content on various media platforms, mass customization, and the rise of microbusiness. According to the JWT report, “Books will take new forms, entertainment will go transmedia, and journalists will become entrepreneurial.”
Writers can use the JWT list as a rich source of cutting-edge story ideas. But several items on the list suggest new formats for publishing content as well as new types of clients for freelance writing.
Here are a few of the items on the list that caught my eye. (You can download the complete 110-page report from www.JWTIntelligence.com)
Breaking the Book
Now that the market for e-books has taken off, JWT expects to see a rethinking of the book format. For example, we might see an iTunes-like market for single chapters of travel guides, anthologies, or textbooks. Professional writers will be encouraged to fill the niche between magazine articles and books. And, we might also see more serialized works through apps that send subscribers a chapter a week.
JWT predicts a rise in the number of children’s e-books for color-enabled screens, such as the iPad and Nook Color. These dynamic storybooks will enable children to switch from text to educational games and graphics. The JWT report notes that “Traditional children’s publishers such as Random House and HarperCollins have jumped on the bandwagon, as have startups.” Ruckus Media expects to have 26 children’s e-book apps in 2011, with 75 more in the works.
The next generation of journalists is being trained to launch their own enterprises by pulling together traditional journalism with business and technology. For example, the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York is offering a two-year master’s program in which students can study media across all platforms: digital, broadcast, and print. Courses in the program focus on the business of managing media and the study and creation of new media business models. The school also offers a certificate in entrepreneurial journalism for midcareer journalists who have worked in the traditional, mainstream media and understand they need new skills.
As blog posts and news items have shrunk to fit our attention spans, JWT trendspotters believe the novelty of long-form journalism will stand out and more readers will turn to mobile devices, e-readers, and computers to access it. JWT cites innovations such as Longform.org, Longreads, Instapaper, and Treesaver.
As consumers look for a personal connection to brands, expect to see more companies play up the people and stories behind their products. It could be everyday employees, the people who produce the ingredients, or the owners of small businesses.
Transmedia is defined as “the art of communicating messages, themes, and story lines to mass audiences through the strategically planned use of multiple transmedia platforms.” The Producers Guild of America describes the job of transmedia producer as overseeing a project’s long-term planning, development, production, and/or maintenance of narrative continuity across multiple platforms, and the creation of original storylines for new platforms.
Because so many items on the JWT list seemed techno-centric, I was pleased to see that JWT’s director of trendspotting Ann Mack expects a bit of a backlash against all things digital. She notes that “To balance our growing immersion in the digital world, people will increasingly embrace face-to-face gatherings and digital downtime.”
Digital downtime is described as “mindful breaks from digital input, intended to relieve stress and foster creativity.”