Joel Spence
Joel Spence 12 October 2015

The Big Digital Trends Coming in 2016

Event Recap: Digital Leaders Trends Briefing 2015

Event Recap: Digital Leaders Trends Briefing 2015


Last week I attended the Digital Leaders Trends Briefing, a fantastic event that delved deep into the not too distant  future of digital.

Below is my summary of the day, as well as some insights into the discussions, talks and conversations which took place:


“Social Thinking Futures” - Tom Ollerton (We Are Social)

We Are Social are about to release their Future Trends Report for 2016, which details key trends in Social that are set to blow up from 2016, onwards. The key trends Tom talked about included:


Social Sharing - Digital Connectivity Drives Sharing Physical Assets

We are experiencing a sharp increase in social sharing products and services: digital-led car-sharing schemes (DriveJoy), home sharing (AirB&B) and even Umbrella sharing (Umbrella Here)! There’s no denying that increased connectivity and digital payment integration is enabling monetisation of our personal possessions. Could this trend lead to brands adding "sharable" to their products benefits?



Conscious Community - Social & Digital for Good

Millennials are increasingly conscious they must care for others and look after the world that we live in. Cconscious Communities are set to grow and thrive as connectivity enables collaboration and working towards these means together.  A good example of this is the Be My Eyes App, which allows a blind person to notify someone close to the App to give them assistance when required.


“The Changing Nature of Culture” - Alastair Cole (Partners Andrew Aldridge)

“Innovation is about turning good ideas into competitive advantage".

Alastair’s message was that we are in the midst of a Socio-technical evolution that is being driven by global brands and global cognition. The more closely the world is connected, the faster it gets, the less time people have to interact and the higher their expectations.  These factors manifest themselves in two key ways:


Communication Crunch

The rapidly accelerating evolution of language, coupled with modern-day time pressures results in “Communication Crunch”. The way in which people are communicating and talking is changing, with the world’s first truly global language being the emoticon. Alongside this, the rise of wearable’s and the demand on our time has meant that communication has adapted to the even smaller screen and must be “glance-able” in order to effectively engage.



Extreme Connectivity

People are more connected than ever before and many of us look into screens for most of our day in one way or another, yet some individuals are revolting against this through “Digital Detox”,  purposefully starving themselves of digital communication and information.


My personal opinion is that people are not addicted to devices, more so that people have always been addicted to information. Humans thrive on interaction and engagement – it’s addictive, and can be traced back to our innate and complex social systems. The rise in devices and wearables simply offer another channel through which to fulfil this instinctive need.



“The Future’s Bright” - Stuart Hillston (ConCap Ltd)

Stuart delivered a fascinating talk, which considered the implications of the growth of the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing and Virtual/Augmented Reality – and how these often controversial technologies can have positive impacts on our daily lives:


The internet of things

An interesting (and controversial) topic that Stuart touched on is that the IoT will not be a topic of conversation for much longer. This is because people are increasingly expecting devices to be connected as standard; therefore the IoT as a talking point will lose momentum and become the norm.


Artificial Intelligence

A point of contention in popular culture and the basis for many a Hollywood blockbuster, however the reality is that AI is not the cause of sci-fi dystopia. Instead, Stuart believes that AI has huge potential for good.  He offered a great example to back up this claim, such as IBM’s Supercomputer “Watson”, which is using its evolving algorithms to assist surgeons to make decisions during surgery. During one trial, 90% of the surgical teams trusted the AI after 2 weeks of its introduction.


Additive Manufacturing

3D Printings latest name, “additive manufacturing” is being utilised for the production of everything from toys and medical prosthetics, right through to weaponry and military equipment. Whilst there are obvious safety risks concerning what can potentially be manufactured, it’s important to remember the countless benefits we stand to gain from this form of low-cost manufacturing. Its flexibility, agility and ability to tool based on programming over mechanics enables significant cost benefits and allow individuals, business, and governments to produce, replicate, modify and manufacture efficiently.


Augmented & Virtual Reality

The rise of Oculus rift and similar devices will continue, with Google Cardboard allowing an AR-like experience using a £10 device and your own smart phone.  This illustrates that there are huge opportunities for augmented reality to filter into our daily lives and help enhance our digital experiences. For example, automobile manufacturers are now using AR to overlay engines to advise on maintenance for customers in order to increase self sufficiency (Channel Shift with AR? Brilliant!) . Timelooper, is a fantastic new app which allows you to go back in time at various locations to (for example) witness the great fire of London as it happened whilst walking the streets of London.


“Who Cares About Customers?”  - Rob Millar (Comotion)

Rob is a business growth consultant, working with FTSE 250 businesses to drive relevance in a changing world and capitalise on change to thrive.


We are early adoptors to a Customer Centric world

As echoed by Forrester in the “Winning in the Age of the Customer” report, we no longer live in a product-led world. Customers have an increasing amount of power and business must transform to prioritise their experience, masking their silos to revolve around the customer.  

Watermark Consultings recent report on Customer Experience details just how important this is the the future and fortune of business with 8 year stock forecasts predicting that customer-centric organisations with far outshine their laggard counterparts.



There is no Digital Transformation, only Digital Driven Transformation.

The most successful businesses are in a state of constant transformation to adapt to the changing conditions of the world around them. It’s no secret that we live in a digital age, where transformation is driven by the socio-technological evolution that Alastair Cole mentioned earlier.  Digital is a key driver and enabler of transformation, however it only comprises part of the puzzle, with people, process and engagement all being key to the wider picture. That being said, the burning platform for most companies, however, is still their digital maturity/capability.


“3 Ways Content Faces Its Biggest Change Yet” - Jack Riley(Huffington Post)

 As mentioned earlier, the world is addicted to information and, with technology bringing new channels to deliver and consume content, Jack suggests that content is on the brink of facing its biggest challenge to date:


Distributed content

Social platforms will become core distribution channel for media owners and publishers as media is targeted where people thrive. However, as media owners continue to evolve from print to digital there are still major threats that are being posed by the big technology platforms, with the likes of Apple allowing Ad-block software on their iOS devices, a major blow to advertising revenues across the online/mobile advertising space.



Direct messaging and notifications obtain 2 to 3 times higher response rates than emails. Companies will utilise messaging platforms to drive engagement with customers - for example, the Huffington Post is planning a Whatsapp group that readers can join for bite sized updates and links to their news site.



Wearables have huge potential to disrupt the market and commerce in general. So much so, that Apple has stated that the Apple Watch has a 4 year projection plan to take over from the iPhone as “device-of-choice”.





Event Summary

Moving into 2016 and beyond, companies must be more agile than ever. In a world where disruptions such as Ad-blocking have the power to potentially cripple an entire industry’s advertising revenues, and where the most advanced companies are capitalising on digital, data, analytics and machine learning to drive competitive advantage through customer experience, your business must constantly be innovating and driving its digital maturity in order to survive.

With that in mind, I’d pose a number of questions to those reading this post:

  • Are you ready for the next great disruption in your market place?
  • Are you innovating faster than your competitors are?
  • Are you engaged with a digital partner that is driving you towards your bright digital future, or are you still undeveloped in your digital thinking?

I’d welcome comment & debate - Thanks for reading.



Original Post Here


Our next Digital Leaders Event is the Digital Leaders Winter Banquet, see below:


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