Business Crystal Ball 2013: Trends

Dan | freedigitalphotos.netAs we rush to finish up our projects for 2012, most of us are already looking ahead to 2013 and wondering with great anticipation what the year will bring.  The fact is we can’t be 100% sure of what the next big thing will be, but through a mix of professional opinion educated guesses and downright wishful thinking I like to think I do have a rough idea.

As a player in the Internet space I would have liked to make all of these predictions from a tech angle, but alas the world we live in today is as online as it is off. This realization has already hit many of us.  In 2013, I expect it to reach a critical mass and there will be significant change to the way we use the internet in our businesses.

A Return to Off Line Charm

Our stats show that as many as 60% of hits to our clients sites come from offline inspirations to view the site.  This means that we see users visiting from websites where there were no links to our client’s site or we see them going on line specifically to see the site.  This can only be the result of an offline conversation or a call to action that originated on TV, at an event or otherwise between people in the real world.  This means that the impersonal approach taken by many companies today: inside sales telemarketers, automated answering messages during business hours, SEO “expert” advised key word loading, mass email letters and non re-targeted pay per click advertising campaigns are gradually becoming less effective.  Consumers have already realized that certain links, articles and reviews online are just empty self-aggrandizing hype.  Businesses are realizing that they need to reintegrate live/local customer service, hire outside sales people, write sincere blog entries and print old-fashion high quality communications.  Business that want to stand out in 2013 would be wise to be early adopters of this trend.

Mobile Mania

That’s not to say that tech is no longer chic in 2013.  Quite the opposite, industry stat’s show that people are more likely to share, like, follow and tweet from a LTE (4G) smartphone or tablet than they are with an old fashioned laptop. We see a large number of businesses and brands replacing their static web presences with what we developers call “adaptive websites”.  These are web pages that are designed to load differently depending on the screen size of each user’s device. Clever developers can sit down with their clients and target the pages even further: based on GPS, time of day, original geographic origin of the device or even whether the user has visited the clients website before. It is almost as if users are getting their own personalized data special only to them – not quite, but almost.  What’s more is that businesses can fully personalize the experience they have with users by creating a web app.  Because they cost so much less than they did just 4 years ago, many small and medium sized companies can now afford to reap the benefits of having an app.  Benefits like being able to push offers and promotions to smartphone and tab users even if they have turned off the app.  Another revenue-boosting benefit comes from apps that generate loyalty codes on user’s device screens, saving thousands in printing, cutting and distributing loyalty cards.  In 2013, with new devices on the market bring new operating systems. We will see more apps being developed and more users becoming accustomed to using them.

On shoring / Backshoring

Gone are the days when it was considered good business to farm out revenue-critical processes to contractors in places with cheap labor, poor English and vastly different business cultures.  A decade of stories ranging from unintelligible customer service reps to botched IT jobs has damaged the transcontinental offshoring industry.  US, Canadian and European companies are opting to contract outside suppliers closer to home as opposed to the India, Pakistan and various other outsourced developing countries.  The US contractor market is packed with excellent call centers, large accounting “farms” and some of the world’s most innovative web software developers.  What’s more is that customer service personnel and web developers in your country are also consumers of your products.  Companies who stay on shore have fewer glitches, delays and profit leaks.  If you want your business to begin reaping the rewards of home talent, then 2013 should be the year that you bring your projects back home.

Augmented Reality

Last but definitely not least is the increase in augmented reality (AR) applications. AR is all about seeing things on device cameras that aren’t there in real life. AR ranges from very basic functionality (toddlers taking pictures with Cartoon Characters) to a video of you flying with a cgi flock of flamingos.   This tech is the latest craze in the popular sense, but it has actually been around for a couple decades.  The difference now is that we have a perfect storm of conditions for companies to maximize marketing results by building AR into things like mobile apps – where the user can create content all centered around a character or product and then share same with friends and contacts in the social networks.  So far, we have seen

1. a concert with augmented reality sponsors that show-up on your camera phone screen when you take pictures of the stage
2. a treasure hunts that use tablets to label different locations based on GPS positioning and object recognition in the tablets camera view finder
3. a state lottery app where you upload pictures of you saying what you would do if you hit the jackpot – with money and lottery balls raining all around you
4. an NBA basketball team that has an AR segment in their mobile app where fans can wear the team’s play-off ring or create a video where they appear to guard one of the players

Of course each image or video captured can be uploaded to Facebook, Twitter etc and shared with friends, fans and followers. Like mobile app technology, AR used to be more expensive to do in the past.  Now, we see AR prices looking more affordable for many smaller and medium-sized companies.  As we go into 2013, we are expecting a larger number of Main Street businesses to inquire about AR and ultimately jump on the bandwagon.

All and all it promises to be a good year: a return to old-fashioned customer service, an uptake in mobile technology and a reliance on local talent to get the job done.

Okay, now let’s get back to work before the holidays sneak up on us!
Parker Lake, is an experienced digital consultant who works with organizations of all sizes to make their technology simple, effective, scalable and affordable.  He and his team of developers solve your web, mobile app and software issues.  So if you want to introduce new tech to your organization then you probably want to talk to Parker.  He wants to talk to you too.  Reach him by phone (305) 790 8569 or email:

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