2019 Digital Trends and Predictions

Here are my predictions for the digital and online industry for the coming year.

Every year I score my own previous year’s predictions– see how I fared for digital predictions for 2018 and work backwards.

1. Foldable/ rollable and other-able screens

Having been teased with foldable, rollable and extendible screens for several years, I think we’ll finally start to see them next year.

I hope the phones look nicer than the Royole. And I hope the televisions looks as nice as the LG rollable, especially in that low but wide position.

And if you’re thinking that TVs might disappear soon, it looks unlikely, because 70% of Netflix binging still happens on a TV.

2. Citizen Data Science

The precise definition of citizen data scientists are untrained staff who can analyse and create data and business models for their companies with the help of big data tools and technologies. I’ve used the latest version of Microsoft’s PowerBI and it’s amazing. Truly amazing.

PowerBI is like an Excel PivotTable that ate all the Excel chart features and understands questions as well as Amazon Alexa.

You can type in a question to PowerBI about the data and let it find the best chart for your answer. That’s Citizen Data Science. We’ll see more tools like these appear from the big cloud providers (and watch out how Tableau responds).

On the subject of citizen data science, just think of all that data that is collected by your devices, or even just your phone.

In 2019 we’ll start to see personal data science emerge, combining all that data together. Each of my apps gives me a separate view and dashboard, but it would be great if it could be integrated. E.g. my health and exercise data with my Office 365 report with my driving reports. In 2019 we’ll start seeing navigation software make recommendations to park up soon to do another 1,000 steps before getting back in the car to continue the journey.

3. Megaportables (or, hypoportables)

The Endeavour space shuttle launch in 1992, costing $192bn, and less power than in your pocket (Source: NASA)

OK, I made-up those words, and while we’re on the subject of inventing words, 2018 seemed to be the worst year ever for verbing, such as visioneering.

Most office-based workers use cloud-services from nine to five, and carry a smartphone which is a wazillion times more powerful than a Cray-2 supercomputer. That smartphone has more than enough power to run a browser or Office application.

By the end of 2019 we’ll be plugging in our smartphone into a docking station at work to run a browser on a large, external screen with a keyboard and mouse.

4. A Financial firm to buy a crowdfunding platform

The crowd funding market was worth over $5bn in 2018 and is set to be worth double by 2022 according to Statista.

Most of the crowdfunding platforms are independent companies and they compete with banks, to provide small business loans.

Expect to see one of the stock markets launch their own crowdfunding platform, or even buy one of the established ones. The concept of launch to IPO sounds like a great opportunity.

5. Social media – a closing down Western one or a new Eastern one?

Here’s a hedged prediction. In 2019 we’ll see one of the major social network to run into serious financial problems (e.g. Snap or Twitter) or we’ll start seeing a the mass adoption in the western world of an established international platform.

My top predictions would be any of the huge three Chinese platforms:

  1. WeChat is an all-in-one platform for users to make restaurant bookings, book flights, make investments, shopping, pay bills, hail taxis, transfer money and of course, posting moments.
  2. Sina Weibo is the Twitter of China.
  3. Tencent QQ is the WhatsApp of China but includes games, music, shopping, micro-blogging and movies, (as well as group and voice chat).

6. Greetings 5G 

With a good tailwind, we might just start seeing the first 5G networks appear here in the UK.

5G looks to be the most disruptive of mobile data infrastructures. With 100 times the speed of current 4G networks, and extremely low latency (theoretically around 1ms).

5G could start providing a real alternative to fixed broadband, and if the price is competitive, it could be integrated directly into IoT (Internet of Things) products.

7. Open Banking apps open banking

Open Banking allows third party services access to your bank account to provide additional services. One of the best apps I’ve seen so far is Moneybox, which rounds up your bank account transactions to the nearest pound and moves the rounded-up amount into an investment account. For example, if you spend £9.99 on your debit card, a penny will move to Moneybox.

The future for these types of accounts could be very interesting – real-time financial advisors, moving money between high interest accounts, or low interest loan accounts and credit cards. It’s one thing for Martin Lewis to recommend paying off debt before trying to save, but it’s another for a third party to do this automatically for you.

8. Advanced battery technology

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo and her urine powered battery (Source: University of Bath)

There are so many interesting battery technologies that look promising in 2019. Here’s a gazillion different technologies that all look promising, from hydrogen fuel cells to aluminium-air; from sand to sound powered; and from urine-power to over the air (just in case you’re wondering – the last two are separate technologies).

The challenge here is likely to be the handset manufacturers because the poor battery life is probably the main reason that consumers want to replace their phone, tablet or smart watch. If battery life significantly increases, will we keep upgrading our phones as regularly?

9. Autonomous cars arrive

2019 will be the year of the autonomous car. In 2019, GM will be manufacturing cars without a steering wheel or pedal. And it’s business model will change, to charging $1.50 per mile rather than the cost of a car.

Alphabet’s Waymo division has been buying tens of thousands of cars ready for it’s fully-autonomous cars (62,000 Chryslers and 20,000 Jaguars) in 2019.

I still think fully autonomous cars will be confined to US cities (and other international cities that are based on US road layouts). I can’t see how it would work in the UK with our myriad of different streets and our jaywalking culture.

10. Ghost restaurants become normal

The rise of ghost restaurants – another nail in the coffin for the high street? (Photo: Wikimedia)

Answer honestly, do you know what a ghost restaurant is?

It’s a restaurant which is only available for online delivery reservations. It doesn’t rely on footfall, and crucially, it can be set up anywhere at a fraction of the cost of renting space on the high street.

By the end of 2019, ghost restaurants will be a common term, just like the term “online shop” became five years ago. And I’ll offer bonus points if some of the restaurant chains we use today, become ghost restaurants by the end of the year.

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