1 Cloud-Based Phone Calls
Phone calls will increasingly become cloud-based and less reliant on a network provider. We will also see more cities roll out widespread free Wi-Fi. Most recently, we’ve seen Google, in an expansion of its role as an Internet Service Provider, introducing New York City's biggest contiguous free public Wi-Fi network in the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan. Chelsea is home to Google's New York headquarters, which conveniently means employees out at lunch breaks or area meetings will be able to remain productive even while out of the office!
WIder access to Wi-Fi access points outside the home and office will facilitate more people switching to freely available data-based communication methods such as Google Voice, Google+ Hangouts and Skype. Mobile phone network providers will have to adapt quickly as their market share for voice calls and text messages begins to diminish in favour of data equivalents—ultimately if everything runs via Wi-Fi, who needs a network provider?
2 Further Enhancements To The Shopping Experience
The shopping experience online will mirror in store, with 360 degree visuals via Google maps, interactive shopping, reviews and ratings pulled in via microdata and checkout shopping via Google shopping. We may even see the introduction of banking with Google too! The in store experience will generally continue to blur with the online world, pulling in reviews and price checking through apps and later, gadgets, which can be worn while shopping. ‘Scan while you shop’ will include the ability to also see what your friends and family like.
Google is already introducing an online game—Ingress—which transforms your local area into a real time strategy game, allowing you to do battle with other gamers as you walk down the street or explore new towns, fighting for control over monuments or areas of the city. Imagine the potential of interfacing with the much coveted Google Glass, and the potential for developing the Augmented Reality aspect for businesses is quite mind boggling.
The question is, will you ever get to work on time?!
3 SEO Gets Personal
Search engine optimisation will increasingly become more about content optimisation and author reputation. Personal profiles will become more important, as author rank develops its impact on search results. Businesses will need to refocus on the people behind the business and not just the brand itself. Those who embrace this approach will take leaps forward in their search engine results page position, those who choose to ignore will stay where they are or lose ranking.
People don’t buy from people, they buy from people they know, like and respect.
4 Social Signals Take Priority
Social signals will influence where search engine listings appear, with those which your network have recommended or shared being ranked higher than those with no interaction. For example, Google is building a trust-based network (Google+), whereby your social habits and connections inform your search results. If you search for something in Google when you're logged in, results which have been recommended (by '+1' or sharing) by your network (people in your Circles) will begin to be served up above those which haven't—the relevance algorithm won't be ignored completely, but precedence is beginning to be given to resources which people in your network think are useful.
5 Open Source is King
Businesses will increasingly turn to open source technologies, as closed source systems become less able to keep pace with the rapid pace of change, with the crowd-sourced development model being unsustainable in a closed source environment. Small businesses in particular will drive this shift in mentality, requiring their larger business suppliers to adapt. Joomla! For example, is fast becoming one of the most popular open source content management systems in the world, powering almost 3% of the web and exceeding 30 million downloads—the chances are during your day you probably browse at least one website using Joomla!.
6 Responsive Website Design
Responsive website design will become the norm, allowing websites to be displayed on a range of devices with ease. Frameworks such as the Twitter Bootstrap and Foundation 3 will be adopted as best practice for website design.
7 Rising Apprenticeships
More young people will turn to vocational learning and apprenticeships in preference to university as tuition fees rise and leading drops. Technology-related apprenticeships will become more popular as the benefits delivered by a tech-savvy young workforce make them increasingly attractive candidates for employment and training. At Virya Technologies, we have taken on two apprentices in recent months, having employed our first apprentice as a full time website designer following successful completion of his programme in October 2012. The level of support available means that many companies can now actively engage with a younger, more tech-savvy workforce, who have the passion, skillset and potential to thrive in a technology-based environment.