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Tech Trends

Tech Trends 2016

Understanding the driving forces behind the Connected Consumer

Advances in technology are a dominant force across every industry, constantly reimaging and redefining our lives. To help you prepare for future consumer demand, we have identified the ten key Tech Trends we believe will have the most impact on consumer needs and behavior. Download the full report or explore each trend in more detail below.

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GfK, Tech Trends
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Learn more about how the key Tech Trends will affect your business.

    • 10/25/16
    • Technology
    • Consumer Goods
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Tech Trends
    • Global
    • English

    Smartphones: Growth unabated in 3Q, though China expected to weigh on 2017 demand

    Global smartphone demand totals 353 million units in 3Q16. Latin America returns to growth after five consecutive quarters of decline.  Demand in Great Britain grows following ‘Brexit’ vote.  China demand to decline in 2017 due to reduced operator subsidies.
    • 06/03/16
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Connected Consumer
    • Tech Trends
    • Wearables
    • Global
    • English

    Could wearables be the key to customer loyalty?

    Imagine if we could travel with a single wearable device or item of clothing “unlocking” the world for us as we go. With our identification documents, payment methods, guidebook, maps, etc. all in one place, there would be no hassle, no fuss. The benefits for the consumer are obvious, but this also poses great opportunities for travel and leisure brands. As we explored in our Tech Trends series of articles, the adoption of wearables has been limited to date. This is partly because some of their uses or the benefits of them are not clear, partly because the potential of the technology hasn’t yet been realized and also in part because of their price. However, if the benefits were more obvious, price might not be such an issue for some consumers. As the technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, however, the opportunities that wearables offer to travel and leisure brands will emerge and take off. In an increasingly technology driven and connected world in which personalized products and services are king, wearables are the potential holy grail for brands. They are a mass market device that is tailored to each unique connected traveler. They are an opportunity to connect with consumers individually, to appeal to their interests and tastes and to build a relationship that encourages their loyalty.

    Wearables that offer a personalized travel service

    The key to successfully using wearables to provide that individualized and seamless experience that today’s consumers crave will be all about creating smarter ways to interpret the data collected using them. It is the processing, analysis, interpretation and delivery of the personal information that will be critical to success. Connected travelers will expect their wearables to be completely personalized to their needs – be that recommendations on sights to see and where to eat based on their recorded preferences and past behavior, or advice on what factor sun lotion they should use given their skin type, or the adjustment of the thermostat in their hotel room based on their body temperature. Wearables are the gateway to offering the truly personalized and seamless experience that consumers want. As long as the benefits to them are made clear, including how their personal data will be used and safe-guarded, consumers are more likely to be willing to share details about themselves with a brand.
    • 05/19/16
    • Technology
    • Connected Consumer
    • Tech Trends
    • Virtual reality
    • Global
    • English

    Virtual reality in UX research brings you closer to your customers

    One of the challenges that organizations face is how to gain a deeper understanding of their customers. As researchers, one way to deliver this understanding is through storytelling. We go to great lengths to convert our insights into digestible snippets. Recent advances in virtual reality (VR) have given us a new set of tools to provide a richer, more immersive story that allows you to visit the environments that your customers experience your products in. Recently, I was in Mexico City observing a series of ethnography sessions to understand how people interact with products and services. Ethnography is designed to explore people’s needs and experiences in a much richer way than can be achieved through surveys or phone interviews. [This was taken by me on the street outside one of the ethnography participants’ homes in Mexico City] As a researcher, I translate these observations into insights so that organizations gain understanding of their customers’ environments – how and where they use the product or service. Of course there are a number of tools that do a good job of this (photos, reports, presentations and video), but we are always looking to incorporate the latest technology if it will deliver better data or a better client experience.

    A UX game-changer: the Cardboard Camera app.

    You may or may not have heard of Google’s cardboard headset, a low-cost smartphone-based introduction to the seemingly limitless possibilities of virtual reality. While we have been playing with this cardboard headset for some time, in December 2015 came a game-changer: the Cardboard Camera app. With this app, you can convert a panoramic video of your environment into a fully immersive 360-degree photo for use in VR. Sound is also included in this experience because it is converted from a video. [These are the visuals found on the Cardboard Camera app page in the play store]

    Like you’re actually there: A quick, simple and powerful immersion

    [A screenshot of how VR looks on the phone’s screen. The image is of a busy street in Mexico City, taken by me] The process of taking the photo is non-invasive, takes approximately 20 seconds and is fully 3D (unlike a lot of 360-degree photos which, though impressive, are nothing more than a 2D photo overlaid onto a sphere). This app is therefore able to simulate real depth – like you’re actually there. And that’s the point. If you had the resources, I’m sure you would love to send your entire product or service teams to meet your customers. This would increase exposure hours and allow a deeper understanding of the challenges they face. Of course, ignoring skewing effects of finding participants willing to invite an entire team into their homes, budgets would never extend that far. So we must find alternatives, other ways to immerse teams of people in your customer’s world beyond taped footage on a camcorder. The Cardboard Camera app single-handedly opens that door. It is a sign on the front gate saying ‘Welcome to my home, this is who I am’. [A photo taken by me at an insights exhibition, showing a client ‘visiting’ a participant using one of our Google Cardboard headsets]

    Beyond cardboard: experiencing your customer’s challenges in real time.

    The power of a smartphone and a piece of cardboard is inspiring. As the technology advances, we must be able to see its potential. For researchers, we are aware of the usefulness of streaming services in our usability lab sessions; entire teams of designers, developers and business-owners can watch in real time how customers interact with their digital products. With VR, observation can now be extended outside the lab – to ethnography sessions and beyond. New VR cameras, 360-degree streaming services and headsets are cropping up almost weekly, so your teams can now ‘visit’ willing customers and experience their challenges in real time. [A photo taken by me of a group of people watching VR content together. The technology we have used to date does not facilitate group streaming events, but this is how it might look.] These technologies can enhance exploratory research in any industry with digital and physical products, services and full customer experience processes. However, VR’s reach can extend even further. Place yourself in the shoes of those who design retail experiences, buildings, crowd flows, exhibitions or any physical product. Until recently, research and early prototypes have been largely screen-based, or VR tech has been costly and not viable for smaller research budgets. But now, participants can be truly immersed, connected and challenged in this environment and the cost is within reach of most budgets. [A photo taken by me showing a GfK colleague using hand-control motion to gain more interactivity within VR. It was taken at a demo of the HTC Vive headset, using the ‘Tiltbrush’ software]

    Using VR in research: There’s no turning back

    For UX researchers, virtual reality is not just a flash in the pan. As the interactive abilities of the technology extend to hand, head, eye and body movements, the potential for building and testing environment prototypes will only increase. VR has some compelling, tangible use cases that will truly enhance the way you experience customer research. My experience in Mexico has opened the door for our clients and we are excited about what’s lurking on the other side. Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at Simon.Jones@gfk.com (Senior Project Designer, User Experience at GfK).
    • 03/09/16
    • Technology
    • Connected Consumer
    • Tech Trends
    • Global
    • English

    Key highlights from MWC 2016

    Understanding the driving forces behind the connected consumer.
    • 02/11/16
    • Technology
    • Connected Consumer
    • Tech Trends
    • Global
    • English

    Tech trends on slideshare

    Smart home, online video consumption, mobile payments and drones – check out the recording and slides from our Tech Trends 2016 webinar. We present our insights and analysis to help you better understand which emerging trends will have the greatest impact on consumer needs and behavior. 
    • 02/10/16
    • Technology
    • Connected Consumer
    • Tech Trends
    • Global
    • English

    Infographic - The 10 Tech Trends for 2016

    To help you prepare for future consumer demand, we have chosen the ten key Tech Trends we believe will have the most impact on consumer needs and behavior in 2016 and beyond.
    • 02/10/16
    • Technology
    • Tech Trends
    • Global
    • English

    The 4 pillars of Tech Trends in 2016 you must embrace

    We are living in an era where making sense of lots of tiny pieces of data holds the key to brand and business success. Organizations with an “analytical culture” will maximize the opportunities this data presents. In our annual exploration of the top technology trends most likely to impact consumers and businesses in the coming year and beyond, data plays a role in each. We’ve identified four themes that will affect how the trends perform: confidence, communicate, capitalize, and collaborate.

    Consumer confidence is key to brand trust

    Relevant for all our ten trends is the necessity to use data effectively and find the right balance between personalization and being too personal. As connected consumers leave an ever greater trail of data about their behavior behind them, the need for brands to offer consumers watertight data security and personal privacy isn’t optional – it is essential. Whether it’s captured in their connected car, when making a mobile payment, playing a game in virtual reality or viewing a video through a subscription service, consumers want relevant, tailored rewards in return for their data. And they want to be confident it will be safe and secure with you. Harnessed correctly, artificial intelligence (AI) offers brands a new opportunity to reach consumers with highly relevant messages. Those that succeed will enjoy improved trust and relationships with consumers, while simultaneously influencing decisions and purchases.

    Your communication must be pitch perfect

    New technologies struggle to achieve mass appeal when the benefits aren’t communicated effectively. This is most evident with regards to wearables, which have, to date, failed to go mainstream. Much is being done to illustrate the positive impact they can have on individual connected consumers’ lives and we expect acceleration in this market in the near future. Emerging technologies need to be right if they are to win the support of consumers. Drones offer significant opportunities – especially to businesses – but the technology is still in its infancy. New players may change the direction of this trend, so watch this (air) space!

    Capitalize on customer enthusiasm and appetite

    One of the biggest challenges for proponents of new technologies is convincing potential customers to share their enthusiasm. For two technologies featured in Tech Trends, however, no such encouragement is needed. Consumers ranked 3D printing as the third most likely technology to impact their lives in our recent study. Similarly, the majority of consumers expressed an interest in purchasing Smart Home products within the next two years. We believe there is a real opportunity for providers to maximize both consumer and business appetite and accelerate these trends.

    Be prepared to embrace unexpected collaborations

    We expect to see some new relationships between unlikely partners as previously unthinkable alliances are needed to turn some technology into reality. For instance, we know that consumers demand a seamless experience in their smart homes. This is a vision that no single provider can deliver, so traditional competitors will work together to meet consumer expectations of a smart home. New partnerships will be forged within the automotive market as manufacturers seek companies to design and build the game-changing apps and features that will define tomorrow’s connected car. The recent collaboration between Chinese networking giant, Huawei, and German manufacturers, Audi and Volkswagen, is one such example. The future of virtual reality (VR), currently mainly the preserve of gamers, depends on technology providers working with brands to let consumers “experience” their products. Quantas, Thomas Cook and ASOS are early adopters, and more will follow suit as the benefits of the technology are realized.

    Summary

    With so many technologies poised for take-off in the coming months, it’s going to be an exciting time. We will continue to monitor, analyze, evaluate and report to enable brands to recognize and fulfill the needs of tomorrow’s consumers today. Please let us know what your take is on the Tech Trends for 2016. Intrigued to read our 10 Tech Trends for 2016? Visit our website to get the full report.  For more information please contact me at TechTrends2016@gfk.com.
    • 01/22/16
    • Technology
    • Connected Consumer
    • Tech Trends
    • Global
    • English

    Tech Trends 2016 webinar

    It’s hard for you to identify the technology trends that will really matter to your business. On February 3rd and 4th, our experts presented four of our chosen ‘Tech Trends’ for 2016 – smart home, online video consumption, mobile payments and drones.