Some of our Agility collaborators have shared their thoughts on the year ahead and marked out some of the possible developments and trends for brands, design, media, music, fashion, the arts, online communities and video.
It's time to be social beyond platforms and mobile beyond the smartphone. 2014 will focus on integration internally and externally so that companies can truly become anytime, anywhere and reflect the lifestyles of our busy global consumers. With Burberry and YSL former CEOs both in place at Apple by Q1 2014, wearable technology and the retail space will become totally interrelated. Think of how Burberry currently use technology in their stores, now imagine what Apple can deliver. For fashion, focus will be on social from a mobile app perspective and will be less about blogs and more about how social devices and apps will connect their world of fashion with their lifestyle. Brands will also begin to seriously consider their millennial conversion strategy globally as focus moves from Facebook to platforms like Snapchat, WeChat and Line.
Design Thinking will be called upon more and more by a broader range of industries, to both problem solve and add value. From processes to services, the application of Design Thinking will deliver more relevant, enhanced, enjoyable user experiences. Social impact and stakeholder well-being will be key considerations in effective Design Thinking. I believe great Design Thinking has the potential to change the status quo in 2014.
The media navel-gazing will continue unabated, with much the same sea-views as before from the legacy print businesses. While they'll blame their intransigence on well-worn saws ('you wouldn't start from here' etc), the main problem is that the real decision-makers lack the guile and gumption to invest what remains of the farm on taking any or all bold, innovative steps forward, to the frustration of many within the organisations who recognise the need for a change of direction. The new machinations will come from outside, with more nimble and less pension-facing ideasfolk - including many with a print background - honing and shaping a dovetail between traditional and new. It's already happening, but it will be happening a whole lot more in 2014 and beyond.
2014 should be the year brands ask what their purpose is? Why do they exist? What are they creating to make people’s lives easier or more interesting, and the world more sustainable or simply more fun?
People are moving away from brands that just advertise and towards brands that provide a clear purpose through which they can tell great stories. We will see, read, watch and experience more and more brand stories as we move from linear advertising on TV, radio and press to storytelling across multiple platforms - social, online video, gaming or offline experiences.
These brands with a distinctive purpose will be talked about, shared and sought after. Consequently, they will be the successes of 2014.
In 2014 we'll see more musicians and writers generate, produce, and (most tellingly) arrange finance for their own work, even beyond crowdfunding. The mythology that suggested creative people need middlemen to handle such things in order to get something made has been debunked in the last ten years. Just as the means of production (digital editing, posting online, sharing etc) has become democratised, so have the avenues to finance such projects. One of the positive sides of the Long Tail is that the necessity for artists to cede editorial control to non-creatives has now diminished. In its place the onus is on creative people to find like-minded peers, advocates and collaborators to create work more prolifically than ever before. As a result, self-starting creatives are becoming more commonplace: finding any and all avenues, nooks and crannies to pay for their work to get made, and seen.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in hard copy anymore. Legacy media is contesting in an arena that’s increasingly meeting the needs of quick fix readership such as The Journal, and the more-more-more Daily Mail-tinged Indo website. For journalists themselves, this mean one of two things: either focussing on quality or quantity. You can’t do both well. As media companies continue to try their hand at different things, such as Newstalk’s sporadic video content, and the Irish Times’ more successful podcasts, individual journalists need to keep up with being all things to all people. As a freelancer, never before has being a jack of all trades been so vital.
Privacy in a non-private sphere will be one of the main topics for anyone working with online communities in 2014. Last year the conversation was pitched as public vs private, Facebook/Twitter vs Snapchat/WhatsApp etc. The commentary painted it as a move towards private away from the traditional social networks, a shift or backlash. I think this portrayal was inaccurate, it’s not one or the other just another part of the constantly transitioning online space we’re living in. In 2013, we saw brands swiftly followed by media organisations dipping their toes in and experimenting but I think we’ll see a lot more in 2014 as the platforms catch up with themselves and work out how they allow users other than individuals to engage. The trick for media organisations and others who work with online communities is to figure out how to communicate and curate within these gardens that have much higher walls.
How we THINK about ARTS needs a re-think
There is a severe disconnect in Government policy for the Arts and its needs and delivery. There is also a severe disconnect between the rhetoric of how important our cultural and artistic excellence enhances our reputation yet the core agencies who are charged with developing and exporting it continue to be cut.
Perhaps the most damaging disconnect though is with the public. In 2014 the Arts community needs to make extra effort to broaden the types of audiences they engage with. I think every citizen appreciates that life would be far worse to endure without music, books, films, great TV, great scriptwriters, paintings and photographs that make us think and theatre to move us. Love / Hate had enormous audiences but the connection between developing actors and writers to THE ARTS isn't made. WE, the Arts sector, all of us, need to explain this better as we go and make the connections clear. Without public support, the continued cuts to the sector will only be the worry of the sector itself.
2014 will be the year that video finally supersedes photography as the visual medium people chose to tell their stories. We all now have powerful video devices in our pockets which can vividly capture the world around us, and are quickly learning the art of doing this effectively. The ongoing roll-out of 4G mobile data will allow us to share and contribute those personal memories easily. Expect a rapid democratisation of video production and curation, in the same way that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and an earlier generation of smartphones democratised photography several years ago.
Paradoxically the dominance of YouTube in video will end during 2014. Despite having a near monopoly on online video in recent years, the poisonous commenting culture, recent unpopular G+ integration and most of all poor signal-to-noise ratio of YouTube's user video content will lead to increasing numbers of superusers and higher-quality content away to a new generation of subject-focused video content platforms and communities.
Happy New Year from all at Agility. We hope 2014 is collaborative and productive!
Lead image credit: Artis Rams/Flickr