Posted 02.12.13 by

2014: Predictions for the Year of Relentless Curiosity

I suppose you could say that everything in life requires relentless curiosity in order to evolve. But if there were ever a year that exercising our relentless curiosity will become mandatory, 2014 is it. This will be the year of substance, when content is not just written for search engines to pick up, and when things we had hoped would connect become connectable. And most importantly, the value of marketing will continue to rise as consumers define their own individual futures of the products and services they prefer. 2014 is going to be the year when our human curiosity figures out how people, technology and process can finally work together.

Here are my top five predictions for the coming year:

1) “The Internet of Things” Goes Mainstream – “The Internet of Things” is starting to manifest in products that solve problems we didn’t even know we had. This is one of the most exciting areas because it includes the “crowd”, marketing and the Internet. Allowing technology access to ALL facets of our lives makes things more intuitive and easy. Things like connecting your washing machine to your mobile device to remotely start the next load, or compiling all your credit cards into one single smart credit card like Coin is doing (funded by crowdsourcing, another example.). Our lives are quickly becoming consolidated into a more virtually connected ecosphere, and people and companies are more committed than ever to making the “Internet of Things” a reality. It’s the ultimate in control over our time and resources (for more on this, please read Shel Israel and Robert Scoble’s book, “The Age of Context.”)


2) Social Influence Rises – Influence has been standard marketing procedure in Hollywood and Professional Sports forever, but only now has the power of finding niche influencers and social amplifiers proved its model. In the last year alone, we have seen the rise of influence establish itself and manifest in new service offerings and platforms. Klout will remain the first influence benchmark, but as my friend Sam Fiorella points out, it’s just one of many benchmarks. It doesn’t solve the challenge of how to measure and increase influence. Watch for platforms like Raynforest, Influitive and Triberr (full disclosure: I am on founding advisory board for Raynforest and use all these platforms) that connect brands and people to form the most optimal partnerships that help disseminate great content to niche audiences that share a bigger curiosity for key topics. It’s the first time marketing and public relations have been forced to work together (even though they should have been all along). Everyone’s an influencer on something, and 2014 will reveal the technology to connect anyone to others who want to listen.

3) Active Listening Meets Social Selling – While you might think social listening has been accomplished, “active listening” has not, or at least it is rare. Active listening is truly paying attention and engaging based on the context of the digital conversation. Listening is the easy part and makes for some nice reports for your executives. But combining “active listening” into a true social sales process is going to revolutionize and define social selling in 2014. The process of social selling is a strange concept, simply because social media channels are a personal, intimate and familiar “no-selling” zone. However, if we can turn active listening into ways we can solve a problem, that changes the game. The challenge isn’t finding someone with a problem; software can do that. It’s a human problem. Last year, I accidentally left my iPad in a Hertz rental car after I returned it, and a Hertz representative actively picked up on my tweet mentioning my iPad being left behind. Within one tweet, they reached out, located my iPad, found my reservation and address, confirmed it with me and had my iPad to me within a few business days. Now don’t tell me customer support is not marketing (as my friend Michela Stribling so eloquently writes about here)! Hertz for life.

4) Social Technology Opens Up – Marketing technology has advanced beyond anything we have ever seen and yet it remains unconnected and disparate. I, for one, don’t think that technology is there yet. We are starting to require a more connected open system where social technology truly integrates with other technologies to combine our experiences into a custom display, one display….one dashboard to meet our needs. Just as we have in any wi-fi device, a standardized platform, social marketing technology needs a unification of standards that marketers can learn to trust and adopt. The power of the crowd will start pushing for these standards, making adoption much easier in the future. We live in a time when all of our systems should be talking to each other, giving each individual in the company exactly the information they need, exactly when they need it. In order for this to happen, systems need to be virtual (no more Excel sheet on desktops!). It is my prediction that closed systems will die and open systems will thrive. This standardization will start taking shape in 2014.

5) The Internet as a Concierge – There is no such thing anymore as business to business or business to consumer. The Internet serves our human needs differently and more personalized every year, and is quickly becoming a personal concierge that helps us fulfill our entertainment, connection, purchasing or learning activities. Quite frankly, I am surprised we’re not farther along with this concept, with things like Siri, Amazon or Google search. While we don’t have hover boards or flying cars yet (and should) we will have the ability to call up information that a single click (or voice) action delivers faster, more relevant results because it uses the power of the crowd and artificial intelligence. IBM’s Watson predictive intelligence technology will soon be integrated into our mobile devices and, as our personal Internet concierge, will know what we want before we even ask.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Despite the explosive growth and relentless power of technology, 2014 will be the year when our own human power of relentless curiosity will connect us to an easier, smarter and more meaningful relationship with ourselves, our families, our communities, our countries and our planet.

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  • What an incredibly specific, sunny and spot-on set of predictions Bryan. i see next year as a time where we will become increasingly aware of the up and down sides of rapidly escalating pace of tech innovation. For example, you wrote “Allowing technology access to ALL facets of our lives makes things more intuitive and easy” — even in areas where we do not “allow” others access to information about individuals and organizations, more illicit as well as legit groups will get it and some, as Dan Ariely and many others have warned us, will use it in ways that do not serve the greater good. Nick Kristof and Moise Naim point out that is why we have the rapid increase in illicit trade in humans, drugs, etc. And the capacity to steal tech secrets to use for means that may be harmful is growing. If competition and harm and more can hit faster and from more places, Pandora’s Box and the Law of Unintended Consequences will become not the exception but the norm. That makes “relentless curiosity” and sharing and co-creating for the greater good all the more important. That’s why deep and diverse friendships such as you have been cultivating, are vital for a well-lived life and work with others. Mutuality matters more than ever so an “us” mindset, seeking sweet spots of strong shared interest could be vital in the new, new New Normal lives we will be leading

  • wow, Bryan, you nailed it again with so many “spot-on” gems and timeless wisdom woven into your insights here. i love your Hertz story, and completely agree with the distinction “active listening” becoming a key component in our world today. Word of Mouth has become World of Mouth, and I’ve been thinking/saying/acting for years on the premise that People2People has replaced B2B, B2C as a general m.o. Thank you for shining your light, with such accessibility and good sense.

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  • SissymMascarenhas

    I really enjoyed this article.

    This week there was a blackout in the neighborhood where I work.
    The worst was not left in the dark but can not use the internet.
    The world does not stop anymore. We are connected to every happening.
    It is unbelievable that yesterday we did not use this powerful tool.
    It only takes a few seconds to us communicate and we are also aware of facts around the world.

    I think that social networks need to invest in more reliability, people need to put into practice the responsibilities assumed.

    And sure, who knows to be versatile and also has an eclectic approach will attract more people to your network and thus, depending on the segment that works, be able to expand its operations.

    Kind regards,

    A Verdade é Cruel

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  • PJSweeney

    Good blog, I just want to add to your thoughts on Internet of Things.

    I was one of the guys who coined that term in my first book (RFID for Dummies) and have since amended it to the Internet of People and Things.

    The convergence of several technologies will allow people to be connected to things and other people thanks to the most important feature (and the reason it hasn’t happened thus far) – the connection will be frictionless. No one will have to take action to update their social graph.

    You can read more in _my_ 2014 Predictions Blog

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