For those of us who like to follow the next big trends in consumer tech, I think the top three on many people’s lists would be:
These trends are now so apparent and present today in existing products that this is more a statement of fact than a prediction of the future. I read an interesting article the other day that pondered the question if people are actually getting dumber because we have so much information available that we don’t really bother to learn.
I don’t believe people are getting dumber. In fact, I would argue that since people now spend less time memorizing irrelevant factoids, there is more time for real learning and understanding.
I also believe that availability of information has and will continue to change how we do everything from run our errands to running our business. The key is still information but the value can change enormously based on two key factors, namely:
Information relevance is the basis for many core technologies such as search, data warehousing, etc. There is still much more we can do here but the value of relevance is well understood.
A new “information” value proposition focus will be time. Essentially, how quickly can I get a particular piece of information and insight? For factoids like who was in a particular movie or who was the King of England in 1805? - the time is retrieve the information on the Web is mere seconds. For those who must know: Technically the title "King (or Queen) of England" has not existed since 1701. In 1805, King George III was King of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
OK. So today you can be at dinner discussing sports trivia and pull out your phone and get a virtually instant answer to your query. I can leave my house with virtually no idea where I am going and simply plug a name into my GPS. Thanks to the web, search, and mobile we now have facts at our fingertips almost instantly.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Many of us in business need to make decisions based on information that can often take days or even weeks to compile. One example, I get so frustrated when I check at home if my flight is on time (they say it is) and then head to the airport to only find out the it has been delayed 4 hours! Clearly the data that the airplane would be late existed when I was still at home; the problem is the lack of real-time delivery capabilities.
I was at a conference this week where someone had come up with a way to know when a customer entered a store. This is potentially a big win for store owner. Today, even with a loyalty card, the customer has already left the store before the business even knows they were there! Clearly, most retail businesses could add much more value having information sooner.
The list is virtually endless, from traffic management to financial management; to web analytics, to TV show ratings, there is more value in having information quickly. The most extreme example of this is equities trading where traders pay huge money for even milliseconds more speed.
So while information can still become more relevant, don’t forget about speed. Real-time insight will give consumers “instant” deals as they walk by a store or “instant” warning of an accident on the road ahead. It will give business the ability to instantly see customer reactions to products and advertising.
Yes, too much information will always overwhelm us but real-time insight is something that will actually help improve business (and personal) efficiency. Its not about MORE, its all about BETTER and FASTER.