I spent Wednesday morning at SUP46 listening to GP Bullhound’s technology predictions for 2014. The presentation marked the seventh edition of their annual report, and included topics such as eye tracking technology reaching the mass markets and the merging of offline and online shopping.
These are the trends to watch and dig into for aspiring tech entrepreneurs according to GP Bullhound.
1. Breakthrough in indoor location communication and marketing
The first prediction they shared with us was the anticipated rapid adoption of technologies for positioning and identification of individuals in indoor environments. Whether the underlying technology is Wifi-triangulation or any other solution, it will allow a host of new cool applications for providing location specific information. A prime use case is reactive shopping experiences in stores, which will empower offline retailers with e-commerce-like superpowers (compare to sales funnel). Don Dogde said, “indoor technology will be bigger than GPS or online maps”.
“We believe that this technology and its associated applications and solutions will reshape how companies, institutions and organizations communicate with individuals indoors”
2. Shopping goes ‘click & mortar’
Today consumers switch between online and offline channels on a daily basis. According to GP Bullhound, 2014 will be the year when online and offline shopping truly merge. Examples include UK chain Selfridges linking “physical experience to digital efficiency” with its ‘Click & Collect’ campaign. In Sweden we’ve recently seen Babyshop opening up their first physical store in central Stockholm. Offline goes online, and online goes offline.
“E-retailers have realized how important it is to get the product into the hands of the consumer and win over the human senses.”
3. Eye-tracking reaches consumer masses
Technologies for eye-tracking have undergone rapid development and more players are getting into the game. Front runner (and Swedish startup) Tobii Technology has so far mainly targeted early adopters with their assistive technology for disabled people. However, things are starting to change. Tobii recently teamed up with SteelSeries aiming at the gaming industry and that is only the beginning.
“We have reached a point where mass consumer markets such as laptops, tablets, automotive and gaming will fuel the next wave of eye-tracking adoption.”
4. Marketplaces will go vertical
GP Bullhound foresee that niche marketplaces will keep taking market shares from the big players, by offering a tailored and curated consumer experience. Consumer tend to prefer niche marketplaces such as Reverb and Etsy from generalists such as Amazon and eBay. Two local examples that we at Swedish Startup Space have covered are Babyshop and PrettyPegs.
“[…]highly curated content with category lists like “Japanese Vintage Guitar” or “Weird Gear” that you could never search for on eBay are some of the elements that have contributed to a 3-4x month over month growth in transaction volume and revenues for Reverb”
5. The return of the robot
Yes, we are talking robots. Over the past few years we’ve seen videos of the dog, the cat and most recently the salsa dancing spider. Google have invested heavily in futuristic robot companies, and with their acquisition of Nest they made a move into the smart homes space. In Sweden we have Uppsala-startup ngenic going for the position as the “nordic Nest”. Other tech giants are also advancing in this field, Amazon getting much attention (as planned) with their “proposed” quadcopter delivery system.
“Only three years after Google invented automated cars in California, other states in the US are rewriting the rules of the road to make way for driverless cars”
6. Advanced data analytics climbs to top of corporate agenda
Living and breathing the startup movement, it’s easy to think that data driven decision-making is commonplace. GP Bullhound however points out that the methods have yet to be fully adopted in big corporate environments, and foresee that 2014 will be the year when modern metrics and analytics finally becomes standard within big corporations. This creates many interesting business opportunities for service providers in predictive analytics and visualization. The winners will be those services that provide actionable, real-time, easy-to-understand insights.
“Although this technology revolution remains in its early stages, we believe that Big Data Analytics has the potential to unleash a wave of productivity and efficiency gains across virtually all industries.”
7. The battle of “where” will unfold
Maybe a bit surprisingly, GP Bullhound highlights the fact that Google Maps is engaged battles on many fronts, and that their dominance might in fact be threatened in some areas. Among the competitors we have Apple, Microsoft, OpenStreetMap, Skybox, Sick, Nokia etc. What is interesting is that they all have different edges, may it be licensing, accuracy, rate of updates etc. Still, Google Map have the advantage.
“Although Google was once the clear forerunner in the maps industry, the category leader position is no longer clear and the battle will continue to unfold in 2014”
8. Social messaging markets will consolidate
The last years we have seen a wide variety of mobile messaging apps performing well around the globe, with a usage growth of 203 % in 2013. GP Bullhound points out that the landscape is highly geographically fragmented with different messaging services doing well in different global regions. The focus for these providers now is monetization of their user bases, through adding new services to the core messaging service.
“Most of the bigger players have moved beyond the stage of accumulating a large user base and are now focused on growing revenues”
9. Cloud storage platforms go mainstream
While most of us have been using cloud storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive for quite a few years now, the market for these services is nowhere near saturation. Whereas storage density is increasing 20% each year, demand for storage capacity is increasing 40% to 60% each year. Since the services themselves do not differ significantly, pricing and performance are key drivers.
A recent TwinStrata report found that 8% of large enterprises and 85% of SMBs use or plan to use cloud storage.
10. Curved smartphones will flop in 2014
GP recommend all tech geeks to get one as soon as they are available. Why, you ask? Well, they won’t be here for long.
“It’s a well-known fact that the screen industry is struggling with innovation since we’re already flooded with affordable, large flat panel high definition screens. 3D was a big theme last year and now the big thing is the curvature of the screen”
The full report can be found here.