digital strategy, early adoption

Digital / Social Emerging Trends for 2014.. Siri, artificial intelligence, chats, emoticons & avatars

Every once and a while – I am lobbed the classic emerging trend question.
The one that asks you to peer into your crystal ball and reach for something a little extraordinary that isn’t on someone’s radar.  Something grounded with a hint of evidence but not yet here in the marketplace.  Something useful.  Patterns not yet present.

“What emerging trends or technologies have you seeing?”

and when I answer – sometimes I get nods.  Sometimes I get the ‘you’re a few bricks short of a load’ look.
Here is what I answered with recently..
Typically, I start these conversations by taking off a shoe and detaching the high heel – thereby demonstrating the  sheer engineering genius of my dearest friend Tanya Heath and the most innovative wearable invention to hit the shoe industry in a thousand years. Tanya designed a shoe with detachable heels so women can move from short to high heel.   I extremely proud to see her shoes in Paris, Australia and Portugal as well as a brand new Yorkville location.
TANYA HEATH – detachable heels #wearable
Detachable heels! From
The rise of artificial intelligence and self learning virtual agents an obvious development. (something I’m currently dabbling with – with the amazing @alexglinka – who talks about probabilistic to predictive analytics with Strategy Mag ) i  Have you noticed the maturing of SIRI yet?   I rely on SIRI to call people – often asking her to call “mom and dad”.  About 4 weeks ago, SIRI asked me “Is this your mother?” – and for first time, SIRI collected specific data on me.  Of course, SIRI has a long way to go.  She stills asks me which number to call when I only ever use one of the two numbers I have for my mother.   Still – the future is in learning about me – who I call mother, when I call, what I ask for – both implicit and explicit data is coming.   Over time – connected with my cell number – a system will learn a lot about me.   Its all rather minority report ish.
I also am fascinated with the rise of chat – particularly with LINE and its brand extensions.   Here is a massive Korean messaging / search company with no need for an IPO.  It has released LINE PLAY- with ability to create an avatar that looks like you and play games with friends *and*  LINE PAY – the chat that lets you pay for things.. including a cool ‘dutch pay’ function so you and friends can go dutch.   It already has 1.2 Million subscribers!
LINE CHAT emoticon language
But what fascinates me is also the emergence of emoticon based languaging – a language with no words.  Could we be moving to a cross cultural language?  One that transcends lingual differences?  Yet — our North American emoticons are so different from those in Asia.  Ever wonder why?  Great 2007 article on this..
Also fascinating is the re-introduction of avatars – the ability to design your virtual self.  I speculate that second life was six years too soon.   This interest led me to @RamonaPringle ‘s Avatar Secrets – an interactive documentary for the ipad and a very multi-dimensional take on storytelling.
Ramona Pringle’s Avatar Secrets – available for download in itunes
At which point.. I got a bit of blank stare..
digital strategy

How to be trend hunter: figuring out emerging trends

{EAV_BLOG_VER:da36d18e0d868e5f}   <– ignore.  Verifying my blog for Empire Avenue

Here is a common scenario for many.   A request to identify the top destinations, gadgets, trends, etc… of the day/week/season.   This request begs the question – how do you figure out where people go, who the influencers are, what trends are emerging.   The answer takes quite a lot of time and research.  Nothing is without significant human time investment – no one tool will pump out the answer. 

My challenge in these requests is that sometimes folks can have false expectations on how long it takes to definitively come up with some answers.  Presenting the storyline takes even longer.

In a quest like this – I always ground my work into a consumer segment, then turn to multiple sources.  I am quite grateful to be well equiped and supported by good tools in my current role. 

I’m simplifying this task a bit but some of the things I do: 

  • understand which sites yield large digital audiences for specific segments, as well as growth patterns over time.  (tool = comscore)
  • understand site cross visitation for the brand, its competitors or what lens you need (tool = comscore)
  • use social listening, like Sysomos, to identify where conversations are taking places and to a certain degree, what key conversations are emerging. 
  • drill down to sources of authority and manually search for the key conversations to gain better depth on conversations. 
  • look at how this marries up to other sources such as ones that highlight consumer behaviour trends
  • if you are lucky, compare to primary research! 
  • if you are lucky, compare to decent secondary research (google insights, pew american life, etc)

To me, it is a rather fun strategy exercise.  A bit like playing tetris really.. putting the pieces together as they fall.