Dec 26, 2009

2010 Web Strategy Predictions bwired

With the new year just around the corner, it's time to start thinking about online strategy for 2010. My tips on trends to stay on top of:

1.    Catching More Users With Honey

Website Analytics have made great headway over the past few years, and the statistics packages on the market right now are the best they've ever been (Google Analytics and Adobe's Omniture, just to name a few). Analytics technology has advanced significantly, and users are now able to implement comprehensive tracking initiatives using multiple variables against unique pages, sections and campaigns, no matter where they sit.

2010 will see businesses go beyond superficial analytic measurements to gain a better understanding of all aspects of their websites' performance, allowing them to learn in depth from user interaction with the internet and their websites. With this understanding will come greater insight into buyer behaviour and consumer preferences, increased measurement of ROI on products and services and more informed use of the web as a strategic business tool.

2.    The Year of Mobile (no, really)

Mobile phones have been multipurpose for quite some time now, but what has fascinated me over the past few months is the speed of adoption. My daughter had her first birthday a few weeks ago and there wasn't a traditional camera to be seen!

2010 will see greater availability of WiFi, as well as further steps towards the use of mobile phones as mobile workstations with the advent of powerful virtualisation technology once reserved only for laptops. Mobile applications will continue to grow, with Microsoft entering the market and Android taking hold, and economies of scale will bring down the cost of data. The use of GPS will become prominent in a wide range of these applications as consumers grow accustomed to the benefits of geotechnology. Interesting sites so far  www.foursquare.com/  & www.google.com/intl/en_us/latitude/intro.html

More and more online retailers will expand into mobile next year to reach this growing audience, pushing the boundaries of m-Commerce with advances in mobile technology including the proliferation of RFID and design enabling far greater usability and functionality, and an overall improved online experience. This will be an opportunity for organisations that do it well to capture market share and strengthen brand loyalty.

3.    Social Media Gets Smarter

2010 will be another big year for social media, with online engagement given a stronger focus and social media strategies taken more seriously thanks to the many success stories of 2009. This will result in higher expectations from users/customers and a greater emphasis placed on businesses measuring returns.

Mainstream adoption is well underway, and the next step will be improved privacy standards (eg. widespread adoption of openID) and common rules and regulations that keep organisations and employees from suffering the negative consequences of confidentiality, loyalty and privacy breaches (many of which tend to be, unfortunately for those involved, highly publicised - eg fake sickie, tarnished reputation).

Mobile ad spending will increase dramatically next year, and as users are hit with a flurry of marketing messages, those who offer users real value, not just self promotion will prevail.

New applications and robust aggregation tools will assist in reducing information overload for users.

4.    Increased Reliance on Technology Will Increase Duty of Care

Increasingly, we rely on technology in our day to day lives, often in times of dire need. Take the example of the recent CFA website crash, which left vulnerable communities in the dark about fire warnings and updates. The government's outdated view is to warn us not to rely on the web, but as it becomes increasingly integrated into our lives, it can no longer be acceptable for websites to experience downtime. Many of us don't have a concept of a disaster where our smartphones won't work and we'll be seriously affected - another key factor for consideration. Prepare for global standards to shift, and downtime to be measured in dollars (although there may be more than money at stake).

5.    eCommerce Essential

2009 saw a dramatic increase in the adoption of eCommerce by retailers and users alike, and this will continue to rise in 2010. The move to mobile, improved payment gateways, enhanced customer service and the arrival of trusted brands will serve to reduce perceived risk and increase online spending. Suffice to say eCommerce will become a key success factor for retailers in 2010.

Management and measurement are essential in order to avoid the pitfalls (check out my blog "Top Ten Reasons Why eCommerce Fails for more detail).

6.    Paying the Price for Poor Execution

We're not as tolerant as we used to be, and we shouldn't be - advances in technology and high standards for best practice has raised the bar for online customer service, and users expect nothing less than a positive online experience, or they'll go elsewhere. Poor strategies and execution will result in a number of spectacular failures next year.

Web suppliers will continue to consolidate as the industry improves its offering and satisfies the demand for full service options. Strategic partnerships will be crucial to success, and many will fold under the pressure.

7.    Search Gets Serious

Further developments in real-time search, including social media and GPS elements, will provide enhanced search capability to users, assisting in generating more tailored results. Increasingly, this integration of social media and GPS into online applications will give rise to privacy and security issues (if you're a Facebook user you would have been notified to the recent change in settings, where defaults were set to "no privacy" - this is just the beginning).

Users as a community will also be given more power as to which results are delivered, becoming more involved in enhancing results through greater feedback functionality. We're already seeing this unfold.

With the release of Windows 7 (and the search and functionality barriers it raises for Google users), Microsoft's Bing is bound to increase competition between these major players. It will be interesting to see the effect Bing will have on the Australian market, who are so deeply entrenched in "the Google way".

A bit off track, but while we're on the topic of Microsoft, support for Windows Server 2003 is due to wrap up next year, and IE6 is expected to die out due to a lack of support, forcing the adoption of later versions such as IE7 and IE8 (cue sigh of relief from bwired's design team).

8.    Battle of the Brands

Google and Apple are set to go head-to-head in 2010, with Android and Chrome OS putting the players in direct competition with each other. Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt's, increasing conflict of interest led to his resignation from Apple's Board earlier this year, causing much speculation as to what cards Google will play next year. While we don't know much about where all this is going, we're sure to find out over the coming months. With Apple's iTunes store wielding power over the distribution of Google applications (eg. Google VoIP), it's bound to get interesting.

Microsoft's Windows mobile applications are set to explode in 2010, adding more fuel to the fire, and the expanding range of smartphones becoming available on the market next year will encourage strategic alliances, sure to stir the pot.

9.    What Happens if I Want to Opt Out?

Social networking , Business networking, Instant media all seem to have forgotten the basic premise of entitlement to privacy. As more of our lives find their way onto the internet and inside some search result it seems that the future will have to deal with securing people's privacy and placing the control back into the individual.

10.    Here Comes Augmented Reality

The new buzz word hitting the streets is augmented reality. You may have seen how it works as a tool for enhancing product evaluation, but what you will be seeing more and more of is the use of GPS data and images from mobile phones to "overlay" useful information as you travel. layar.com/  and brightkite.com/  are starting to showcase what's possible. 2010 will be the interesting to see how innovators find ways to build in augmented services. 

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