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By Thomas Baekdal - September 2011

Near-Future Trends for 2012

This article is from a friend of mine, Chris Knorn. He is VP for strategy and consulting at Conrad Caine, a German digital media agency. You can follow him on Google+/Thomas


2011 is slowly getting to an end. For digital marketeers and digital aficionados, this is the time of the year to think about what will happen in 2012. I had some discussion with Thomas on this topic.

Here is my conclusion on what will keep our brains busy next year:

New chances and challenges for the publishing industry

Amazons one-stop-shop idea to write, edit and publish books will change the scene.

2015 might be a more realistic number here, but I think we need success stories. Have you heard about Amanda Hocking? She noticed that all books were more or less in the same price range and decided to publish and sell her own books for less.

In the beginning it were the only books for that low a price so everybody gave it a try and she became rich. Stories like this could speed up the "discovery" process.

The "discovery process" will be crucial for upcoming authors. You need to build a personal connection to your readers.

Seth Godin is one of a god example.

Digital music services like Spotify, Simfy and digital radio will spread all over the place

For some countries this is already a reality. The question is: what does it mean for the industry and how will this develop? I still struggle to find out what the idea of a "personal radio" brings to the commercial industry (and as with all trends we shall not forget its also about money.)

Targeted radio spots are one thing, but most of the cool web radios do not have any commercials (that's why people like to listen to it, and why they are cool.) But nobody can offer good programs for free in the long run, so how will this go on? Will the music industry will make enough revenue by simply selling licenses to the Spotify's of this world?

What is Apple going to do if music streaming services, with premium offline possibilities, start stealing iTunes' revenue?

Food selling via the internet or do we call it "digital food service"?

In some countries it is already possible to order a selection of food online, but it is about 25% more expensive. I see a big online-offline transition that might go hand in hand with the trend for sustainable lifestyles (at least in big, developed cities.)

There are platforms on the rise that connect the farmer on the countryside with the customer in the city without using a real world market place. It only needs the people and the platform to bring them together (which results in a form of a marketplace albeit a different one.)

Thus I can get the honey from the forest, or the meat from the cow, directly form the guy doing it-we may even be able to talk.

But the producer does not have to come to town to join the (often expensive and time consuming) markets (Foodiesquare is just one random example of that.)

Social Commerce (if anybody ever manages to do it right)

As brands start to optimize their social presence, it should lead to social shopping (where it makes sense for the particular products.)

But brands need to learn that social commerce is something else than putting up a shop in a Facebook tab and start integrating the idea of social shopping in their online strategies (which still means a change management process for most of the businesses.)

Power to Number-crunchers and Analysts

Measurement on CRM and ROI, and deeper interpretations of social media listenings will play a bigger decision making role than ever for a majority of companies

The big change will be how we measure analytics. Not just social analytics, but all web statistics. Current systems are basically based on a passive website behavior. But that does not lead you in the right direction when it comes to future online strategies.

Unfortunately I haven't seen new updates from big measurement experts like Omniture.

Besides that, I think there is a big market right now for people who are able to interpret the numbers.

Today, companies have access to all sorts of numbers (actually far to many), but in the end, they don't have a clue what to do with it. Experts who understand the digital playing field as well as mathematics and statistics are rare. I could sense a movement to "buy" experts like professors from universities to do this job as a kind of a side project-this could become a real new job format as well.

The ongoing rise of the mobile internet and the integration of "internet TV"

Everything becomes mobile. And after a while, nobody talks about "mobile" in the sense as we do it today-mobile website, mobile banner, will be replaced by the original demand of being "always there."

Google, with the Android Platform, and all sorts of speech-to-action services will be a major driving force.

As for TV, We will not have Internet-TVs in the way people think about usage today just as we did not yet see internet refrigerators. What we will see is a convergence of media. The Internet will simply be an extension of TV e.g. from our mobiles (or the other way round-depending on your perspective.

Maybe we will have Apps that allow us to interfere with a live broadcasting format. And remember: It is much easier to extend what we can view on TV, than to build it into the TVs themselves.

Online-Offline Conversion or the Outernet

The internet is expanding into the real world. All the location based services (often non-sense) are just a tiny first step into a new form of the web but will be amongst the driving forces for a new digitized world. To be able to determine where people and things are and at what distance they have to one another is a prerequisite for many applications.

Combine these with your personal profiles and the result many new services. Like when the energy consumption in cities is transformed into smart grids. the internet will transform into something like a smart net.

This will work as a transformation layer between the internet and the real world. As a first step we may see digital walls that will allow you to interact and to start a process leading into an action e.g. shopping for something.

In a white paper published by TrendONE, germany, I found good thoughts on the outernet idea. The physical world becomes like a site that can be "clicked" but instead of icons we will click on the objects themselves such as cars, billboards or commuter trains to access information, services and communication services.

Everyday objects can be understood and designed as an interface or potential future sales area. Physical locations can turn into anchor points, where communities can form and where informations are exchanged.


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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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