Where are we headed?
A new year and new trends. What we’re seeing as most relevant to entrepreneurs is a matter of taste. But in the bigger scheme of things, as an entrepreneur you need to be aware of what’s hot and what’s not.
To that end, Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends report has arrived. Venture Beat reports that Meeker’s annual reports have become a major signal for the biggest trends in tech. This year, Meeker reports on slowing smart phone sales; the growing mobile ad industry and ad blocking; the video-fication of social media; the future of transportation; and the rise of messaging, bots, and voice-based assistants. You can dig into all 200+ pages of crucial information here.
What’s new is old?
The report has a lot of information. Making some sense of the roughly 220 pages is a bellyful. Oddly enough if you roll back the calendar a few months to 2015 and look at what was projected to be hot in 2016, it makes me wonder if we’re not experiencing a bit of a disconnect:
Interest in virtual reality seems to have peaked in some respects with tech trailblazers but in the intervening months the focus has been how to hook mainstream consumers.
Most smartphones these days are operating on the 3G or 4G network. But all eyes are on the next generation of cell service, unsurprisingly, called 5G. That said, many think iPhone sales may have peaked in 2015. Meeker predicts the rise of voice interfaces because they’re fast, easy, personalized, hands-free, and cheap, with Google on Android now seeing 20% of searches from voice, and Amazon Echo sales growing as iPhone sales slow.
Smartening up your smart devices
Meanwhile, an article in Entrepreneur points out that companies are looking to improve the way our devices communicate to each other otherwise known as cross-platform integration. Microsoft’s newest update of its newest operating system, Windows 10, allows devices in the same network to stream the same game across multiple devices.
Smart Data is proliferating in everything from automobiles to homes. Which means every time a new home appliance becomes connected to the Internet, a new wearable device starts tracking more of our movements or a social network encourages us to put more of our feelings and vacation pictures online, more data is created.
Where’s the safety net? Entrepreneur posits that parallel security measures will need to expand both in size and sophistication. New software security technologies will depend on identifying abnormalities in network behavior instead of identifying destructive code in software.
The general takeaway
Some other takeaways from the latest trends report include the following (thanks to Techcrunch):
- Video viewership is exploding, with Snapchat and Facebook Live showing the way, though video ads aren’t always effective.
- Messaging is dominated by Facebook and WeChat, it’s growing rapidly, and evolving from simple text communication to become our new home screen with options for vivid self-expression and commerce.
- US advertising is growing, with Google and Facebook controlling 76% of the market and rising, but advertisers still spend too much on legacy media rather than new media where the audience has shifted.
- The USA could become the home of the auto industry again thanks to innovation from Tesla and Google despite US auto sales slipping since 1950, though car ownership will fall as Uber/UberPool sharing becomes mainstream.
It doesn’t just make for absorbing reading. No matter what our business is, following the latest internet and digital trends are vital.
Offer customers a frictionless online experience with these updates
(MARKETING) Companies of all sizes still have clunky, hard-to-use websites – here’s how to fix that and offer a quality online experience.
The internet has clearly done wonders for retailers and businesses that sell physical products. Ecommerce is exploding and the evolution of various platforms makes it possible for even the smallest of companies to create their own global supply chains with very little upfront investment or cost. But don’t forget about service-based businesses – such as beauty salons, yoga studios, gyms, chiropractors, and massage centers. These types of businesses have benefited tremendously as well.
The internet has given service businesses the opportunity to increase exposure, drive leads, and better engage modern customers in a convenient manner. However, with great opportunities come incredible responsibilities.
If you want your business to be competitive in today’s landscape, you have to offer customers and clients a frictionless online experience, or a so-called omnichannel solution.
Smooth user experience (UX) is what separates successful businesses from average ones when it comes to online marketing and lead generation. If you want to offer frictionless UX to your customers, here’s where you need to start:
1. Understand buyer journeys
“Today, customer interactions are continuous, contextual, highly personalized and ever-changing, no matter if the customer is on an iPad, talking to Alexa, or entering a subway station,” digital marketing expert David Aponovich points out.
The problem a lot of businesses encounter is a misunderstanding of the customer buyer journey. They view it in isolation, instead of as a long-term play.
“When you start to build digital experiences around your consumers’ actual lives and stop thinking in one-time purchases, you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors,” Aponovich continues. “Removing friction? It starts by being where your customers want you and need you to be.”
2. Offer convenient scheduling
No more asking customers to call the office or send an email in order to schedule an appointment. Rarely will a customer remember to do this. And if they do, it creates an unnecessary hitch in the buying process. You need to offer more convenient scheduling options.
An online appointment scheduling resource will help tremendously with this aspect of UX. A tool like SimplyBook.me makes it easy for smaller businesses (with minimal resources) to streamline the scheduling process for customers and clients. Customers can seamlessly move from interest to purchase/scheduling in the same step.
3. Present plenty of visuals
Nobody likes clutter. As you know, minimalism is the best policy in modern web design. If you want to give your visitors what they’re looking for, ditch the superfluous elements and meaty paragraphs. Instead, opt for high-quality visuals that say more with less.
4. Increase website functionality
Your website should be more than a receptacle for content – or even a platform for scheduling appointments. While these are important aspects, the site itself needs to be functional. This could look like selling physical products directly from the site (if you have them) or offering interactive content that addresses key customer pain points.
5. Make yourself discoverable
It’s easy to believe that UX is all about your website experience, but it actually encompasses a lot more than that. If you want to keep your customers happy, they need to be able to find you. Today, leading brands are putting a huge emphasis on social media, online word of mouth, SEO, and PPC advertising. Prioritize discoverability and you give yourself a pretty big head start.
The internet gives your business an opportunity to reach your target market in a manner that few who went before you would have ever dreamt possible. But it’s not enough to simply reach your audience. Once you engage them, you have to expose them to the frictionless online experience in order to drive conversions and grow your brand. Take some time to think about how you’re doing in this area.
Microsoft to become 3rd largest gaming company after Blizzard acquisition
(TECHNOLOGY) Microsoft will not be left behind in the Metaverse. The tech giant plans to fully acquire Activision Blizzard by 2023 for $68.7 billion cash.
Microsoft announced plans to acquire the video game publisher, Activision Blizzard, on January 18, 2022, in an all-cash transaction reported to be valued at $68.7 billion.
The deal gives the tech giant popular game franchises, such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, and many more to add to its arsenal. This acquisition sets Microsoft up to be the third-largest gaming company by revenue. Microsoft expects the deal to close in the 2023 fiscal year (which begins in July of this calendar year) once the customary closing conditions have been completed along with the regulatory review and Activision Blizzard’s shareholder approval. Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard’s board of directors have already approved the deal.
This deal comes in hot on the heels of an avalanche of issues surrounding sexual harassment where 37 employees have reportedly left Activision Blizzard according to this article on The Verge. Microsoft states that Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company’s culture and accelerate business growth. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.
Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, posted both Activision and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently until the deal is complete with Activision Blizzard then all business will be reported to Spencer.
“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community, and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive, and accessible to all.”
Maybe you noticed the not-so-subtle hint regarding the Metaverse by Microsoft’s chairman and CEO Satya Nadella, but it seems everyone is quick to mention to the public and or other companies listening that they are gearing up to bring their A-game to the Metaverse. Whatever that ends up being.
In the meantime, we can predict some of the possible changes to come from this buyout. Microsoft currently has Game Pass, their subscription-based model for Xbox, which recently hit 25 million subscribers. Now’s the time to sign up for the Game Pass subscription before prices go up to match the revamped gaming inventory. Microsoft could potentially lock down new releases and not deliver them on other platforms, i.e., PlayStation, giving them exclusivity and driving subscription sign-ups.
Whatever ends up happening, Microsoft is making big moves to not be left behind in the gaming world or the Metaverse.
Want to save snippets of a Zoom meeting? Listener makes it possible!
(TECHNOLOGY) Listener lets you screenshot or bookmark important sections of live meetings, as well as curate a playlist of snippets, to share or playback.
We live in a very computer-mediated world where the bulk of communication is done virtually. Many of us spend a great deal of time – whether for work or pleasure – on video calls connecting with people that we’re unable to meet with in person.
Zoom became the unofficial mascot for the pandemic and has shown no signs of going anywhere. So naturally, people are looking for ways to put this to even more of an advantage – like by creating messaging extensions to utilize in lieu of live meetings.
Now the folks behind Listener are getting in on the action by creating Listener for Zoom.
The new tool allows users to bookmark important moments of Zoom calls in real-time and easily turn long recordings into bite-sized video clips.
As founder Nishith Shah puts it, “Zoom meetings just got more productive!”
Listener allows users to do a myriad of things, including live bookmarking to create short video clips; ability to transcribe your entire meeting; edit video clips by using transcripts instead of struggling with video editing tools; share video highlights with your team; create playlists from video highlights across different Zoom meetings to tell powerful stories; use projects to organize your meetings and playlists.
Founders say that Listener is designed for pretty much anyone who uses Zoom. In early testing, the founders found that it is especially helpful for product managers and UX researchers who do customer interviews.
They also reported that early-stage founders have been using Listener to add powerful customer videos to their investor pitch decks. It is also helpful for recruiters and hiring managers who search transcripts across hundreds of hiring interviews to remember who said what and to pass on important clips to other people in the interview process.
The tool is also beneficial for teams and hiring, as customer success and sales teams create a knowledge base with Listener to train and onboard new employees. They also use it to pass on customer feedback to the product teams.
This could also be great for clipping video elements that are appropriate for social media use.
On January 11, 2022, Listener was awarded #3 Product of the Day on Product Hunt.
Listener for Zoom is free while in Beta. The tool works only with licensed (paid) Zoom accounts.
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