While I have (for good or ill) occasionally been described as ahead of my time, I resist describing myself as a futurist as the latter label sounds so pretentious. On the other hand, I do invest many hours a month reading, scanning, searching information that enables me to sense patterns so here are some things to watch in 2010. I’ll follow each of these topics over the next few weeks and identify what i think might be the consequences for places then – so stay tuned! The anticipated "buzzwords" for 2010 are highlighted in red. PLEASE feel free to point out serious omissions. Comments welcomed!!1. Social Media Morphs into Social Business – you don’t need a social media strategy in 2010. That won’t be enough. You will have to socialize your entire business, starting at home by engaging your employees, then your customers, in that order. Keeping an eye on cost and returns will be as important as it always was but more tools and metrics will emerge in response to the need to fine tune strategies and tactics and demonstrate accountability. Enterprises that remember it's all about people before process; purpose before profit, and passion before protocol tend to come out on top.
2. Integration & Identity - Thanks to widespread application integration and consumer desire to use multiple, diverse applications seamlessly and together, identity will become a key issue in 2010 – who owns it, stores it, has access to it and under what terms? Could 2010 denote the "death of the login?" Without sharing my profile, how can I expect for the information I seek to be relevant and customized? But to whom will I entrust data about me and who else should benefit from accessing it? Will we finally see travel-specific "widget" or web services shops to facilitate aggregation and smart mash-ups that can be used by amateurs and professionals alike?
3. Place-based Communities - we've seen the importance of community to people in the offline world and global connectivity has, in many respects, divorced community from geography. But thanks to the ying & yang of life, every trend has a counter-trend and technology will now enable people who share a common address (ie live in physical proximity) to find each other. I had no idea that YELP (one example of a hyperlocal site) attracts more visitors than Twitter. For whatever reason, I think we might slow down in 2010 and take more time to enjoy what is under our noses. Fed up with irresponsible national leadership, we'll see more community self-determination. Place brands won't be created - they'll emerge from the collaborative efforts of people identifying aspirations in common. They'll be recognized as social and emergent - now that is an important word. DMOs will recognize that they are, in fact, community facilitators, experience orchestrators and stage managers for a visitor's narrative. They'll invest in "destination webs" - the neural network that binds community members together and enables them to share intelligence and respond collectively to external threats and opportunities.
3.Mobile phones and mobile apps will spread in number and intensity i.e., we’ll use them for more tasks; their content will get more real-time and richer, (more augmented); more pleasurable to access; and smarter and more relevant to my activity, place and purpose. They'll be used as content generators and payment devices just as often as communication devices - they might, one day, solve the identity issue identified in Trend # 2. But do you trust your mobile phone company more than Facebook. It's a tough call.
4.Content Curation. Content will threaten to bury us so the emphasis will be on curation, filtering and managing in and out of the cloud... Expect to see a number of companies try to bite at Google’s heels with more relevant, personalised, customisable search parameters that reflect the content being searched and the browser’s objectives.
5. Video – it seems everyone wants to be on X Factor or a reality show. In 2010 their dreams will be fulfilled. Cheap HD cameras, Like FLIP, that can stream to the internet in real time (UStream) will add to the mountain of pixels already clogging the airwaves. The new word for this is Vlogging and Cisco is leading the charge – well they would be, wouldn’t they?
6. Customer Engagement & Crowdsourcing - while in 2009 content was being generated spontaneously by consumers, expect brands and destinations to take a more proactive approach to engaging customers in generating useful content and supporting their brand advocacy. BTW advocacay is the new buzz word for “word of mouth” and crowdsourcing becomes a way of engaging the entire destination community (visitors, residents, local businesses, associations and people) in inviting and caring for guests.
7. Women – in 2009, more men than women were using social media and women’s purchasing power and style captured men’s attention. About time. So will 2010 be the year that women leap to the stage and start presenting at travel and tech events? Your guess is as good as mine. At the Phocuswright conference, women constituted less than 10% of the presenters but, as one of them was in charge of Google’s ad revenues, then maybe less = more.
8. Language – as many tourism businesses and enterprises rush to the developing world, where signs of the green shoots of recovery appear first, we’ll face a new challenge. The world is not WASP; cultures differ and people need to work in their own language. Expect to see a spate of translation services – automated and semi automated. Technology costs might go down but localization costs will make up for it. There might be a low cost solution (see trend 6) but you’ll have to wait till later in the New Year for my thoughts on that one.
9. Semantic or Synaptic Web – as humans rush up Maslow’s ladder in search of meaning, technology follows suit – hence talk of a Semantic Web. A new term that will crop up more frequently in 2010 is the Synaptic web – are they different? Well the first is about deeper layers of meaning and the second is about connections and relationships. The network of the web is increasingly resembling the neural pathways in the brain.
10. Collective Intelligence. 2010 will mark the end of the Age of the Individual and the emergence of a new form of collective thought - a Global Brain - and action that emerges from the multiplicity of new, different and self aware connections. We’ll start to find ways of working without formal leaders and commands from above. We’ll emulate the working of computers while mimicking the behaviour of swarms. In 2009 a number of books on swarms and herd appeared on bookshelves – expect to see more in 2010 as we learn how to work across platforms, cultures and vast distances as a agile and adaptive teams. This is especially relevant to destinations. In 2010, expect to see DMOs focus on getting SMART and attending to the needs of the niche, smaller operators at the end of a "long tail."
And if this isn’t enough, the bloggers at TNOOZ have published their technology predictions for travel here. Surely enough food for thought to fuel and entire new year of feverish activity!!!