Each year over the Christmas period I spend time researching the latest tools, techniques and trends to prepare for the New Year. What became apparent over this period was the speed with which things are changing across the web. Techniques and technology are evolving at a mind blowing pace, enabling the web to transform into a truly connected, interactive space.
The purpose of this first blog post of the year is to summarise and outline what I think are the top tech trends for 2014 and how they can impact your business.
It seems like I have been talking about this on and off over 2013 but it has become even more prevalent and more relevant so I am making it my top tech trend for 2014. I am seeing analytics statistics for some sites that are now showing mobile as the majority of site visitors rather than the 10% or so minority I was seeing at the beginning of 2013. This is a huge shift in behaviour in just 12 months. It should also be made clear that it is not just mobile that is the challenge, but multiple devices with multiple screen sizes that need to be accommodated within a website, to ensure the visitor gets an optimal experience. Add to this the clear statement from Google that non mobile compatible sites will take a hit in rankings now is the time to invest in making your site mobile compatible (which I have just done, see the new Flow Interactive website launched this month). Watch out for next month's blog post for more on this.
Flash is the technology that helped drive the explosion of the web by providing a platform for delivering engaging, entertaining and operational functionality that could not be delivered natively within the browser. From games, adverts, product builders and more it helped make the web what it is today. Fast forward to 2014 and Flash is nearly dead. Apple no longer support it, Android devices will soon no longer support it and pretty much anything you can do in Flash you can now do in HTML 5. HTML 5 is a new standard that is (finally) about to be formalised, paving the way for consistent support across all modern browsers. Right now it is pretty much supported in all modern browsers anyway and opens the door to interactivity like you have never seen before. It can even be used to create "app" like functionality that will look and run across mobile operating systems using the same source code saving time and money for you as a business. I have just built the new Printed Blinds Australia site on HTML 5 which allows you to upload and manipulate an image on a custom blind then order online. All within the browser, no plugins required.
Although Social Media has been the big topic for a while now, I have seen an important shift over the last 6-12 months. This shift has shown that social media is now delivering tangible ROI on marketing spend. Facebook Graph Search delivers unparalleled insight into the billions of people on Facebook, allowing you to research and target to very specific demographics. Pinterest and Instagram have been proven to deliver relevant traffic (especially to eCommerce sites) that results in actual purchases. Content and Inbound marketing are going to be a necessity in 2014 for those businesses wishing to succeed online, being vital for keeping the search engines happy, engaging users online and ultimately positioning your business as a leader in your field.
The volume of data that is being collected on us online is truly staggering. This is set to grow exponentially over the next few years and provides an unrivalled opportunity for business to explore and leverage off the wide range of information available. This data can be used to understand trends, see patterns, predict future behaviour and outcomes. For example Google uses search behaviour data to be able to track illness and epidemics around the world (https://www.google.org/flutrends/). Google provides an amazing array of information which can be used to spot trends and analyse behaviour, all for free (Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Trends, Insights). A really interesting example is their trends visualiser (http://www.google.com.au/trends/hottrends/visualize?nrow=3&ncol=4&pn=p8). 2014 is the year to start tracking and analysing the wealth of data available to help grow your business.
In 2014 it's time to break down the walls of the Internet and start connecting everything together. Already you can use Facebook to sign into other services, pull data from other sites and create "mash ups" to portray new concepts, and integrate completely separate systems together. Many service providers now offer Application Programming Interfaces (API's) that expose the data and functionality within their system in a standardised way, making it accessible to other applications and websites. This provides many new opportunities to connect systems, create amazing experiences by leveraging off functionality and data that already exists. Combine this with what is now being called "The Internet Of Things", a wide range of devices and objects all of which have some form of ability to communicate, creating a vast information network, and soon we will have a connected world that offers an amazing range of opportunities to business and consumer alike.
2014 looks like it will be an exciting year for business online. The rise in connectivity and the explosion of available data and functionality online will provide a huge opportunity to gain insight and target potential clients more accurately to help grow your business.
If you want to discuss anything outlined in this article or just want to have a chat about how your business can take advantage of the new opportunities online then please give Ivan a call on 8097 7957.