Five digital trends for 2019

At the heart of digital product thinking is the belief that digital experiences should continually develop alongside the evolving expectations of customers, to enable businesses to get ahead and stay ahead.

Anyone – from digital product practitioners to CEOs - recognises that keeping up with these expectations can be challenging and knowing which digital trends to embrace can be even more so.

Louis Georgiou, Managing Director at digital product and services consultancy Code Computerlove, shares his prediction of five digital trends to watch in 2019.

1. Baked-In Experimentation

As digital technology has become more widely available and to a certain extent standardised, the value of the technology itself has become less significant from a competitive perspective. Companies wanting to achieve an advantage in 2019 need to fully embrace experimentation.

Marginal gains made in all aspects of digital, from site speed to the impact of on-site copy, add up to greater market share, decreased costs and increased sales. Those able to spot and act on these opportunities will thrive; those that don’t will be left behind. There will be a bigger divide in 2019 between those that do and those that don’t embed experimentation into their day-to-day approach.

Greater use of data will be key, and skills in the collection, cleansing, interrogation and analysis of it will obviously be valuable. Companies and organisations making experimentation part of everyone’s role, and not putting these skills into a silo labelled ‘data’, will make the most of the opportunity to get ahead in 2019 by baking experiments into their culture. An experimentation-for-all means approach also means that people making decisions about products, services and strategies aren’t doing it blind.

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2. Innovation

Increasingly businesses of all sizes are bringing digital in-house, as digital moves beyond the marketing function to become an integral part of all operations, but these teams can get too caught up in the day-to-day. 2019 will see greater emphasis on digital creativity beyond current technical limitations; the winners will be those who are imagining a future outside of their own four walls.

The rise of the internal agency has already begun. Large corporations are leading the way in establishing dedicated innovation hubs with the core aim of inventing exciting new digital products in line with ever changing customer behaviours and needs; reacting fast and reducing risk by developing away from the core platform. The aim is to discover and generate breakthrough products and services across the customer journey.

Product agencies are also increasingly fulfilling the need for fast-to-market, high-performance new digital products, working collaboratively with brands and businesses to come up with completely new ideas and solutions that balance business needs with behavioural insight.

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3. Personalisation

Brands and businesses have got pretty good at making smart clips, ads and videos to put out there into social channels, get views and attract users. With short, specific content clips you can look different – more relevant - to different people and get some immediate success. But to turn that quick win into anything that looks like longer term success, you really have to start adapting your own platform to reflect the expectation you created from that snippet, and that’s much harder to do.

Successful brands will have to start doing more than asking people to configure their platform experiences themselves – they likely don’t have time and can’t be bothered - and do more to personalise it, not just through demographics or through contextual relevance, but also by a whole set of other data – device, time of day, source of visit etc, to make things work and win.

We can illustrate this with sport. A five-minute video clip rounding up the NFL highlights from the weekend grabs someone’s attention. All good. But as a sport broadcaster what you ask that person to do, or show them next, can be hugely complex if you want their subsequent experience to live up to expectations.

Why did that original content work for the user? Was it the topic, the presenters, the location, the device, the day, the time, the format, the duration, the marketing message… any combination of these is potentially why it resonated at the time. So making the wrong assumptions about that to inform what they see next means you can get the follow-up platform experience totally wrong - and look totally irrelevant.

There is a whole new level of personalisation and curated content, based on smarter use of data, coming for 2019 that’ll move us beyond one platform trying, and struggling, to cater for all.

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There is a whole new level of personalisation and curated content coming for 2019
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4. Ethical digital practices

The responsible use of tech and democratisation of the web was a huge topic at this year’s Web Summit, and an increased focus on digital wellbeing is tipped to be a major trend in 2019.

2018 saw a significant shift in attitudes towards technology. Consumers are acutely aware of algorithm bias, fake news and the negative societal effects of tech.

Digital giants are already putting into action digital wellbeing features to support consumers’ quest for screen-life balance, and there is an opportunity for brands to promote positive use of tech.

Similarly, nearly all consumers now expect brands to use technology ethically. Customers will increasingly see which companies truly care about their data. And it’s not just the tech giants that need to ensure AI and algorithms are ethical and unbiased.

Consumers will want to see this from all businesses. They want greater transparency and for brands’ digital presence to be rooted in ethical values – not just pay lip service to it.

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5. Faster, seamless, convenient interactions

5G will be switched on in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester by mid-2019, and this faster speed and greater reliability will open up new opportunities for businesses to connect with a new hyper-connected consumer – any time, anywhere – with greater reliability.

It will allow brands to be more ambitious and creative with their plans, confidently bringing mobile even further to the fore, and the Internet of Things will begin to scale.

While it’s likely to be the back end of the year that we begin to see more mainstream innovations, there will be some hugely exciting ways in which organisations implement even smarter digital products.

Omnichannel experiences will go beyond smartphones with even more reliability, and expect to see events, such as festivals, sporting events and conferences making the most of next-level connectivity. Brands at the forefront of this faster, smarter trend – and who get their products right – will open up to this exciting opportunity and ability to deliver new experiences.

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Read more about Code’s Product Thinking approach

Code in the news: A look back at 2018