Looking into my crystal ball across the winter break, I couldn’t help but get excited for what 2019 has in store – for us as a company, for the software development market and most importantly, for our customers! We began the year by moving into our new office which the Zupa team couldn’t be more pleased with.
Zupa has a strong forward-looking mentality and loves to research new inventions and innovations that are relevant to what we do, (or downright cool), and provide an underlying opportunity to all our stakeholders. We find a balance of efficiency and innovation, which is highlighted in a previous post on the zupaJobs blog here. In doing so, our research department has made the following forecast for 2019:
What is going to happen this year?
Welcome to the space age 2.0! To name some of the progressions of the past year: the world has flirted with space more than ever, wearable health tech has become incredibly sophisticated, most cryptocurrencies have flopped, initial coin offerings (ICOs) became a scam opportunity for bad actors (theft and money laundering) and need to be regulated, blockchain has risen from the Crypto ashes and been applied to many industries, artificial intelligence continues to appear more human, data and the value of it is no longer overseen by consumers (big data and machine learning), on-earth transport possibilities are better through technologies like Hyperloop and voice assistants have moved from the Early Adopters stage to the Early Majority. All this considered, here are my headline forecasts for 2019 (relevant to Zupa):
Business and Consumer expectations align
There has never been a time when a higher percentage of the global population is technically literate. Neither has there ever been more of us! The current global population is 7.7 billion, with it forecasted to reach 10 billion within the next 40 years. With those 7.7 billion people, global unemployment levels have stabilised and are reducing, and the sophistication of technology and connectivity is helping developing economies to catch up with developed economies at a rate of knots. Considering this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the expectations of the user experience within business applications are becoming aligned with consumer applications. The demand for a better experience and service in business has never been higher and so this provides an opportunity for new, innovative entrants.
From Tech Monopoly to Tech Oligopoly (with smaller businesses breaking through)
Throughout 2018, there was continuous chatter about the possibility of regulators stepping in and breaking up big technology companies (specifically Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet) that are BAADD (Big, Anti-competitive, Addictive, Damaging Democracy). Whilst data portability has been one of two headline items for consumers in GDPR (the other being the Right to be forgotten), the ability to export your data from one platform to another (whether social, purchasing, productivity tools, operating systems or anything else) is still a tricky and manually intensive task. I would be naïve to suggest that there is going to be one data standard, but as more companies come through, and make global markets more competitive, the ability to transfer between systems will become easier. In addition to this, ethical considerations will become commonplace, users will trust the companies and there will be healthy competition in technology - all ships go up in a rising tide!
Transparency and increased engagement
For a company coming into a new market, they need to be open and transparent enough, so their customers can communicate directly with them, and each other. It is all about two-way communication and the chat forum has become and will continue to be the standard for technology companies. It is a wonderful way to get stakeholders to engage with the brand; and will ultimately lead to your brand advocates answering the questions on behalf of the company. That is the end goal, your customers to be an extended representation of your own brand. Fabulous representation of this can be seen in companies like Monzo and Revolut. Both fintech companies, they show the importance of two-way communication in developing and marketing products. Something that should be seen more in any size of business.
Security and data ownership
It appears that considering the sudden rush to be GDPR compliant (and all the news surrounding it), 2018 was the year of whistleblowing and 2019 is the year of action! There have been many sizable data leaks from large-cap brands (Marriott, British Airways, Facebook to name a few…), which causes immense concern towards the old titans of industry’s capabilities in cybersecurity. However, larger companies can’t be as agile, which means the ability to deploy the latest innovation in security has a longer lead time. The next step besides 24-hour surveillance with commercial data centres (which comes as the industry standard) or dropping them in the ocean, will be a new addition to the keychain! Something that has been done with blockchain and is needed for full security in consumer and business applications. This is the use of a physical key for verification, something that Google has already started to do. In addition to security, the market is experiencing a growing awareness from users wishing to control their online presence building across platforms and devices. Users are showing signs of retracting their data (search and rescue) then seeking safe storage. Whilst this may affect data-driven business models such as Push Advertising, it should create a new marketplace. Provided there is clarity from contributors, an unbiased and accurate data feed could supply more sophistication for AI. See proof of concept here.
Taking the above into consideration, it has never been a better time to be a young, small and agile business that is able to make and take opportunities as we go. We will continue to research and look for innovations (externally and internally – some of the best ideas come from members of the team!) to make the general marketplace more competitive and encourage more entrepreneurialism in the UK.
Watch this space! We are eyeing up 1st September to bring our new eCommerce platform to market. We have our roadmap and are getting our burndown in place. We will be shaking and grooving to hit this date and bring value to our users.