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Every year I ask the best and the brightest for their trends reports and apply a set of criteria to grade them for Forbes. The meta-themes for 2019 are clear; a focus on wellness, brands taking stances on certain issues, and Augmented Reality will continue to grow (although everyone is still waiting for the killer product). Some are better than others so here are the actionable elements from the best of the bunch to help you hone your 2019 strategy.
1) Think before you get others to speak Voice was everywhere at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) this year but also in places where it’s clear that companies decided they ‘can’ rather than ‘should’. Heed this warning, take some time now to develop a voice strategy – perhaps this will mean partnering rather than creating a bespoke skill or shortcut. Don’t dive into it but explore the jobs your customers have to do that could benefit from using Alexa and Google Assistant. Right now the numbers support surface usage rather than hardcore commerce functionality, but this will change fast once the kinks are ironed out.
2) Influencers will get smaller From ROI to cost in general, working with influencers is a murky world for most and while it is an industry that is maturing and becoming more legitimised it is still the wild west for many. Focus instead on finding a group of smaller influencers (Minfluencers?!) and working more closely with them once you discover they align with your brand. A strategy like this can be increased or decreased depending on success but won’t break the bank. You’ll also build relationships rather than just line pockets. 3) Stories will force you to rethink your content strategy ‘Stories’ on platforms like Facebook and Snapchat are seeing huge numbers, but engagement figures are still sketchy per industry. While 2019 will see a growth in Story uptake on sites like LinkedIn and more bespoke apps will likely see eyerolls and a backlash – expect more filtering and noise cancellation functionality to appear. 2019 will be the year that stories grow up and start to convert so hone that strategy early, or you risk users muting you. If you already want to mute your Instagram experience, check out Filtergram. 4) Make your business or service melt away in 2019 Tech is again fading into the background thanks to voice assistants, augmented reality and computer vision. Amazon’s ‘Go’ stores are the epitome of this. The store has cameras and works with your mobile phone to charge you for goods that you walk out with – there are no cashiers. Amazon is looking for spaces in London to test this idea but already has stores in New York, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco. Estimated to be a $4bn market by 2021, expect more friction-reduction technologies and strategies to be developed. In 2019, think about how your product or service melts into systems, devices or out of sight. Think about UX/CX and the general experience, where can you remove friction? Where should you remove friction? 5) VC market adopts portion control While it is always dangerous to extend lines on a graph, the current climate and backchannel discussions I have been privy to suggest that the current trend of fewer and bigger deals will hold in 2019 for VC firms. Expect the market to be more cautious as a result and ask more questions than ever along with a focus on the wellness and other trendy/fast-return sectors. Think about what Investors will want during uncertain times and how you can use them to your advantage to make yourselves more appealable. The UK will have an exciting 2019 thanks to an uncertain and shaky political future. Factoring in these recommendations and meta-trends where relevant should help stabilise any upsets and potential issues that events may throw at you. If you want to really stay ahead of technology and trends, use TNN (The New Normal), a Slack channel and meet-up group dedicated to helping you understand changes going on and enabling you to focus on what matters.