2018: Thoughts on the year ahead
We’re a month into 2018 and we’re taking a moment to pause and think about what, of all the new year chatter, we think will be worth paying attention to as the year unfolds. With AI becoming more sophisticated and accessible, will this allow AR to find its feet and will we really be using voice commands to manage day-to-day life, and what about all the buzz around Bitcoin and Blockchain?
The rise of voice
Despite some embarrassing recent failures, such as LG’s robot snub, voice is growing as an interface to services and brands through devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. Anecdotally we’ve heard of lots of friends and family taking the leap with these devices over Christmas and The Echo Dot was the № 1 selling Amazon Device this holiday season, and the best-selling product from any manufacturer in any category across all of Amazon, with millions sold. Our Head of Mobile, Adam, has been experimenting with Apple’s HomeKit and Siri to create his own smart home setup and we have commissioned an R&D project to explore opportunities and how these can be incorporated into a brand’s digital strategy. If you haven’t looked into how voice interfaces could help you reach new audiences and establish better relationships with existing ones, 2018 is the year to start.
Bad PR from GDPR?
We have been planning for this for some time and keeping our clients ahead of the curve is always a priority. This issue is building in importance for everyone online and and we have published our Essential Guide to GDPR here. Brands need to make plans for this or face falling foul of the law in May with potentially dire consequences. We predict a high profile casualty of this law in 2018 which will focus attention from those who have chosen to ignore it so far.
Increasingly sophisticated web based applications
Building on our ground-breaking work for British furniture makers, Arlo & Jacob, where we’ve reinvented the online sofa exploration and selection interface, we can see some huge opportunities for combining our award winning mobile app design approach and building more application like interfaces for websites. With mobile now the dominant method of accessing the web, users expect much more application like and gesture based interfaces and the use of new technologies such as React is allowing our creative department to produce some truly amazing user experiences.
AR still to find its place as VR stalls
Except for gaming, we still can’t see where there will be a big uptake of Virtual Reality and the jury is still out for Augmented Reality. We’ve seen some very cool demos and the technology is certainly impressive with certain case studies such as the IKEA app being a great example of how the technology can be used. However, for there to be a wider take up there needs to be a better understanding of how to turn this great idea into something compelling. We are exploring how AR can make an impact in the retail, sport and cultural sectors other than just a gimmick. We’re predicting one or two killer uses (which we’re working on!) but not widespread uptake in 2018 which may lay the ground work for wider uptake in years to come.
Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain
With some 90+ companies now accepting Bitcoin and the buzz around Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, it can’t be long before high street brands are accepting Bitcoin along side pounds. This will need changes to the payment industry and will be fascinating to see how it changes ecommerce in the next few years.
Apple Pay Cash — a new method of sending and receiving money using Apple Pay and Messages — launched in the US at the end of last year, with the UK launch rumoured to come sometime in 2018. It represents another step towards the replacement of traditional payment methods with mobile alternatives. If you combine this with the launch of Apple’s Business Chat that lets retailers connect with customers directly and even accept payments right in the Messages app, you can see how it will be easier than ever for customers to spend money using nothing but their smartphone in 2018.
Facilitating a Digital Jam Day in Singapore recently, we built a chatbot to integrate into Facebook’s Workplace to assist delegates attending a learning day to support business transformation at Axiata, one of Asia’s largest telecommunications companies. This development work has helped us delve deeper into the world of chatbots and we expect to see these become a ubiquitous presence across customer-facing websites, becoming more intelligent and getting closer to the ideal of accurately mimicking human conversation. We also expect to see chatbots become common in the automation of many business processes, such as assisting HR departments by guiding employees through internal company processes.
Users are expecting and demanding more and more from their online experiences. A personalised experience must go far beyond knowing a user’s name. Users expect a website that they have visited previously to retain a memory of what they have seen before, what choices they have already made and any temporal changes that have occurred since the previous visit. Personalisation experts The Filter have produced an easy-to-read guide to personalisation for ecommerce which is well worth a look.
There’s plenty for us all to get our teeth into and we’re very excited about where this year is going to take our clients.