Micro trends for the new year

One of the big business challenges for the next few years will actually come from within. A new generation, Generation Y, are now entering the workforce. The ‘millennials’ are used to a wholly different way of engaging with people and tasks to previous workforce generations.

For them, email is no longer the default for communication, spreadsheets no longer the key way of managing workflow, and word processing not as important as blogging and online publishing.

Organisations that have spent so many years adapting to the digital age will need to change again to accommodate these new attitudes and behaviours, or risk alienating (and not getting the best out of) their millennial workforce.
Examples of the type of innovation required might include social-style communication interfaces for work projects; collaborative, democratic online project management software; mobile-first systems for finance, timesheets, reporting or information sharing; and even adapting to the “always social” phenomenon of staying active on social media even when in the midst of workplace activities. Rather than resist, organisations must embrace change and address these issues in their strategic planning and technical infrastructure. The luddites risk missing the opportunity for efficiency, attracting talent and operating as an enterprise fit for 21st century success.

Quantify that drink
Meticulously recording every meal, run and bowel movement moves from Howard Hughes to High Street. Over the past few years apps and wearable tech from Nike, Run Keeper, my fitness pal and more have encouraged people to track everything from BMI to regularity of dreams. The latest iPhone and iOS bring this out of the realm of fitness fanatics and dieters and into the mainstream. With support for ever more life logging in a completely passive and unobtrusive manner; from a device that lives, works and sleeps with you; intimate details of the nation’s day are being gladly exchanged with your social networks and by extension, with brands.

In return, you’ll feel connected with family and friends in an entirely new relationship.  And you will gladly pay for this connection with others by letting data analysts and planners see inside your day and start to change your experience of the web, tailoring it to the profile you have built through your lifelogging.

Year of the micro
Micro animation interactions in the interface offer a much more smooth and considered approach - this cinematic production quality to information consumption will see an end to the current pump and dump approach of shoving information in front of a user in the current web sphere.
Micro screens will redefine how we develop our content: retina sharp images without the bandwidth bloat; highly optimised content for immediate Q&A scenario based interaction; effectively a content strategy approach ruthlessly streamlined to the effectiveness of a twitter conversation.
Micro optimisations for boosting performance will be the largest development change in 2015. Varying data speeds and need for timely information to interact with scenario based wearable technology, will require a level of optimisation going beyond the normal desktop, “load everything at the bottom”.
Coupling micro interactions, vector based imagery, reaction served content and just‑in‑time loading of required page components will offer performance gains in double digits.

Community Troll Hunters
2014 was a popular year for Trolls – with high profile court cases and media campaigns from people who have been abused on social networks including some highly unpleasant behaviour, often targeted at women, and including in extreme cases, death and rape threats. Some ISPs and Social Networks have been slow to respond to this and have either claimed it’s not something they can police, or they have acted but in a cack-handed way: Facebook’s poorly thought-through enforcement of its ‘real names’ policy being case in point. The issue of trolling poses an increasingly serious threat to the success of social platforms with entire segments of users being chased off certain networks or even being put off social media altogether. These users will not come back. Brands also are starting to see association with social channels as more risky due partly to a never ending stream of negative news stories associated with social media trolling. In 2015 the networks have to respond or they will face an exodus of users to other platforms that take the issues seriously and have worked out how to control the trolls. The answer to this challenge may lie in the strength of the communities themselves to ‘self police’.

Content Strategy and UX for Voice Interactions
As increasing numbers of voice interfaces emerge, especially in the wearables/Internet of Things space, more and more focus will be aimed at how people and technology interact through such things as verbal commands and personal assistants. Take for example the new Moto Hint that reads your emails to you via an ear bud and runs on an O/S that responds to voice commands.
For years, Call Centres have placed great emphasis on the accents of their staff, placing different product and service call centres in different places depending on people’s stereotypical perceptions.  Extrapolating from this, how do we localise content spoken by machines across different regions and languages? What cultural considerations do we need to take into account when designing a voice interface, how do we incorporate commands alongside conversations and introduce them into home situations? And how will people respond psychologically to objects that speak and act independently?

Blurred Lines
The online and offline environments have never been more blurred together. Almost every human activity whether work or leisure has a connected element to it. Joggers map their runs. Football stadiums have wifi-ed up. Shops have their own hashtags and selfie-spots. Not only has tweeting and instagramming from live events (or just anywhere) become standard, but places that used to be immune to the ubiquitous pervasion of online life have given in. At conferences you’re no longer told to turn your phone off, you’re told to turn them on and get tweeting.
2015 could be the year when places such as retailers and tourist destinations finally figure out how to truly enrich people’s experiences (and make money out of them) by using mobile technology.

David Burgess is managing director of Reading Room, an international award‑winning digital agency.

For further information visit www.readingroom.com

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