Every year, our team of tech mentors, social media consultants and digital community gurus come together to recognize the top 5 trends that will have an impressive impact in our tech-defined communities for the upcoming year.
In 2016, we witnessed the soaring millennial community exerting their influence in the US Elections with the surprising support for Bernie Sanders, especially with the popular hashtag of #feeltheBern that was virtually everywhere, and which later went on to become the de facto slogan for Bernie Sanders’ campaign. The tech community further confronted a cyber battle between government whistleblowers and foreign power hackers that affected our sense of privacy.
The year of 2016 also saw the realization of augmented reality; the spread of Pokémon GO gave rise to communities that called for products that would fuse ‘real world’ with computer-generated content. For the finance communities came the Fintech revolution that proliferated with over 1,000 Fintech startups emerging at a value estimated to be nearly $870 billion.
As we head for 2017, there are various common trends emerging; some evolving and building on the foundations found in 2016, and some occurring as a result of the rapid shifts and demands currently taking place in our societies.
1. Micro-communities will rebound
In 2016, mainstream social networks such as Facebook were in major decline; the reason for this was partially because people simply got tired of Facebook amid all the new innovations, and partially because the initial idea of using Facebook amongst your friends and acquaintances got a new meaning when majority of your likes started coming from your family members with comments like “Dear Anna, what is that awful thing you are holding in your hand ? You have grown into a young beautiful lady but this is not lady-like at all ! ! With love, grannie”. Sorry, grandma, in 2017 you’re totally not invited.
Henceforth, 2017 will see a serious search of a more authentic and personalized engagement; users will be switching towards more intimate and exclusive micro-communities where they can have control over who they communicate with, without explicitly and discourteously leaving others out.
This lean towards micro-communities will see a shift in the current marketing methods too. In a recent survey conducted by marketing platform Markerly, being too public and popular does not gather as high of an engagement as a smaller following does, which only reinforces our prediction for the comeback of micro-communities. Brands will follow this trend and start collaborating with Micro-Influencers, who are essentially social network figures that represent a smaller community but have a more interactive audience.
2. Ephemerality overtakes permanency
With the upsurge of micro-communities, there will come a general hunger for content that will be available only for the intended people, but also with restrictions in the content’s viewing time. This isn’t arguably anything groundbreaking as we have seen versions of this with Snapchat from the preceding years, but now more companies and startups will take on this trend with a dynamic redesign and modification of the idea of ephemerality in order to bring something new to the table, like Instagram’s ‘Instagram Stories’.
This attitude will be reflected as a major shift in our online communities as people will be taking their sweet break from how they once communicated. The change will be towards exclusivity and moment-focused, no-trace communication, but more alternate team-to-team communication methods will emerge to diversify the spectrum, such as a return back to nostalgia-loaded anonymous chats that leave no history (e.g. Anti-Chat), and the use of gushing memes as a form of hybridity in expression and communication, taking from where emojis left it in 2016 (e.g. 4chan).
With the fight for user data growing more ferocious than ever, especially with the rise of dark social that can’t be picked up by web analytics platforms, untraceable end-to-end encrypted messaging apps with disappearing content will prosper simultaneously with the growth of micro-communities.
3. Demand for in-app business messaging archives
With digital space becoming fragmented and cluttered now that new forms of communication are being launched everyday, lots of important data goes missing for the ordinary user that might need it again for their personal or professional use.
In 2017, business-friendly platforms will switch towards keeping the transmitted and shared content of their users in-app to build a consistent and robust user experience. While collection of data for monetization and surveillance is the last decade’s news, 2017 will take a nice U-turn and make this data available for those who produce it and let them decide for whom else to make it available.
Platforms created for team-to-team communication have increased during the past couple of years, but very rarely have they offered accumulated business data for the communities that create it. Apps like Nested have been launched with evolving modern communities in mind, and they offer a knowledge-based platform to teams that are subject to constant and continuous communication and who need their own data for future evaluations and advancements.
This elevation will be particularly useful for those businesses and organizations that recruit new employees, apprentices, interns and/or volunteers to their teams frequently, because in-app business archiving allows new recruits to jump on board without a delay or hassle. Nested, as a platform, places content into a central user experience and automatically reassembles the information exchanged between users based on their context. These are then available as aggregated streams of data.
4. Human-machine communities with the coming of Internet of Things (IoT)
We’ve all heard of the stories before: the dystopian future where the internet of things, or IoT as it is known, rule and the humans are mere mortals shivering with terror at the reality of our lost privacy and security. Many years have gone by with consecutive predictions gone astray and IoT has become a revolutionary trend that has always been present in our chatters but never actually here in its full potential. This is about to change as the IoT market is expected to explode to 20.8 billion connected ‘things’ in a few years’ time.
As for 2017, we can expect larger companies (like Google, Amazon, and Apple) making major developments in their cloud-computing and data-gathering sensors, and improving the way IoT will evaluate and transmit the intelligence it has gathered. This will reshape our daily routines as ‘things’ can take on the repetitive tasks that otherwise we would need to do, which will free more time and energy for us to use in other areas of life.
Like the transformational impact of the assembly line and the Industrial Revolution, the emergence of IoT in its full capacity can alter the human-machine relationship as ‘things’ will integrate into their surroundings and have us depend on them.
As our lives grow smarter and our lifestyles better in quality, our communities will have the opportunity to become more collaborative, and we can starting leveraging technology to enhance our infrastructure and public services, particularly healthcare, as well as sustainable management in water and energy.
5. Personal bots will change our working communities
Complementing our preceding point, our fifth and last prediction is about personal bots. Businesses have had answering machines and automated customer service bots for a while, but in 2017 automation of previously human-exclusive duties will spark a high likeliness in the emergence of personal bots.
We have had Siri around since 2010 with the intention of intelligent assistance, but only in 2017 will we be able to have it take the role of a digital assistant with the competence to help with our daily routines like taking incoming calls and replying to messages according to how well your bot knows your relationships with your contacts. This advancement of personal bots interface, alongside the development of IoT, promises a rise in sentient tools that are context-aware and capable of ratiocination.
Our communities will see increased communication with bots, but the downside of this is that it will be hard to hold anyone accountable for misunderstandings caused by bots. Furthermore, the employment prospects for personal assistants might be troubling with the coming of personal assistant bots.
Siri will be having competition from the likes of Cortana and Google Assistant, so we can expect to see new, more efficient features and capabilities emerging in order to keep up with the rivalry; this will be particularly interesting if machine-learning technology will be enhanced in the forthcoming year. Something between a business bot and a personal bot, globally prominent messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and Kik will launch chatbot innovation to offer flexibility in automating tasks and aid in recovering data.
We can conclude that 2016 was a surprisingly definitive year, but not necessarily for the upstaged political events that shocked people as much as kept them scuffling. With the coming of 2017, various changes and transformations — as predicted above — are likely to occur, but one thing’s for sure: our communities will slowly forsake the trends of globalization with a demand for technological innovations that would allow sub-cultures and sub-communities to emerge for more transient and personalized communication.
If you have any opinions in this regard, or if you wish to challenge our predictions, drop us a comment below (or message on Nested!)