I'm proud of Critical Mass' standard of always seeking the extraordinary. So you can imagine my self-disappointment when I sat down to write another "top 10 predictions for the new year" post...it felt decidedly un-extraordinary.
So, forget about 2010. Let's talk big. REALLY big.
Here are 10 predictions for the next decade. That's right, the whole darn decade.
Sure, it's a little linkbait-y, but this is a fun way to start the new year and could ignite some great conversation. What will happen? And how will you succeed in this new decade?
1) Content Strategy Becomes the New Information Architecture: You've probably heard the saying, "Information architecture is to design what content strategy is to copy." And it's true, except that content strategy lags about 5-10 years behind IA as an agency deliverable. Expect clients to demand content strategy and hence agencies to staff up with folks who understand that the content on a site is as much a science as it is an art.
2) Marketing Sciences Get Sexy: Forget impressions, views, and hits. These dinosaurs are extinct and today's darlings (the all-too-vague visitors and clicks to name two) will likely follow them into the ether. Web metrics will get a hell of a lot sexier than bounce rate -- expect more about engagement, behavior, real customer insights. And as web metrics become more robust, the interpreters of this information -- marketing scientists -- will become the oracles of the office. Their challenge will be to not only wrestle this data into a story we can understand, but also to make info about past behavior predictive (or prescriptive) for future behavior. (Expect to see offerings like this proliferate.)
3) Google De-throned As Search King: As Google continues to diversify – phones, browsers, tons of acquisitions, etc. -- the amount of time they can focus on perfecting search falls. All this while competitors lick their chops. In '09, Microsoft's Bing brought a reasonable alternative to the fore with great ads and some innovative changes, especially for video searches. And with Wolfram Alpha and possibly others in the wings, it's likely the king of search will end this next decade looking around for all that lost market share.
4) Social Media Staffers Become Face of Business: Social media staffers have already far eclipsed your MarCom folks in terms of public visibility, but expect the same thing to happen to senior execs. Let's face it, more people know the name Scott Monty than they do Ford's own President. Frank Eliason and ComcastBonnie are the positive, helpful faces of one of the most despised corporations in the country. Of course, the best situation may be to have a senior exec who also understands social media strategy, even if the business isn't exclusively online. Expect leaders like publisher Michael Hyatt to raise the bar for business execs in the next decade.
5) The Death of Marketese: This is easily the prediction I pray for most. We learned in the last decade that people like doing business with people (wow, genius stuff there, I know). So why are so many "About" pages written in the vague, sanitized language of "marketese"? If your corporate page babbles on about "innovation" and "insights," you'd better be listing a few. Don't tell me about your "industry-leading technology;" just say you make the best damn widgets because of X, Y, and Z. Tolerance for marketese has dwindled and will disappear within the next decade. Let's hope this uninspiring copy does too.
6) Forget Resumes: For agencies in particular, and many businesses as well, resumes will disappear in the next 10 years. Expect employers to focus on what you've actually done, rather than what you say you've done. With creative examples like these, could you ever go back to single-spaced, 10-point font missives ever again? Developer Adam Darowski was one of hundreds (thousands?) of job seekers who have figured out that the blog is the new resume. When I was interviewing with Critical Mass, we discussed my blog in far more detail than any other component of my resume. They wanted to know what I did, how I lived online marketing; expect other employers to follow suit.
7) Competition from Unexpected Sources: The old rivalries used to be enough. Bill Gates' Microsoft vs. Steve Jobs' Apple, for instance. The last decade changed all that. Now, Steve Jobs faces stiff competition in the e-reader market from Amazon's Jeff Bezos and his killer Kindle. Brin and Page's Google Droid phone will be a formidable foe for the iPhone and Blackberry alike. No matter your business, be ready for new competition from unlikely places. And expect these upstarts to come in swinging.
8) News Continues to Decentralize: Everything from RSS to Twitter offers users personalized news feeds with no interruption. The 6 o'clock news simply can't compete and will disappear. This next decade will see a mass decentralization of news. But will the same fate befall newspapers as well? No way. Too many of us fogeys understand that nothing compliments breakfast like newsprint on a dead tree. Sure, the number of newspapers will fall, but stalwarts like the NY Times and Washington Post will endure.
9) The Decade of Mobile: FINALLY. But it's not the mobile device you're used to. Technology has caught up with our desires, but the next decade will usher in a handheld that is more mini-computer than telephone. In fact, expect VoIP to evolve quicker and eclipse the built-in phone hardware. Talking will be one of the lesser tasks solved by our ubiquitous mobile devices. The web will be with you...everywhere and all the time.
10) Hovercars. Or at least jetpacks. We deserve that much.