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Social and Digital Tech Trends: 9 Take-Aways for YOU

2013 Tech Trends and ImplicationsThe advance of social and digital technologies continues unabated. We witnessed dramatic changes in 2012, and the anticipated changes in 2013 promise to be equally profound. This post provides resources that capture some of the key trends and predictions and offers nine bottom-line insights about what these trends mean for both individuals and organizations.


Although we tend to emphasize personal resolutions and goals at the beginning of each new year, there is value in establishing professionally-oriented priorities as well. With that in mind, I’d like to share some of the resources I’ve gathered about social and digital technology trends and offer my thoughts about what these trends mean for professionals in all functional areas, at all career stages, and in organizations of all types and sizes (in other words, everyone!). Armed with this knowledge and insight, I hope folks will give serious consideration to how they will bridge the “digital divides” in their professional lives to enhance both their own technological competencies and those of the individuals, groups and organizations with which they work.

Have you established any specific technology-oriented goals for 2013? If so, I’d love to hear them. I also welcome links to other resources on trends and predictions for the year ahead, as well as additional insights.


- Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD

Coming Up: In the next few weeks I’ll be revisiting some of the issues I covered in early 2012, including digital technology aspirations for the year ahead, the “ROI question,” and the need for training and education to enhance digital competencies. I'll also be sharing new ideas about some of the things individuals and organizations need to think and do to be more successful with digital technology in 2013 and beyond. Please check back or subscribe to the SMinOrgs S.M.A.R.T. Blog to be notified when those posts are published.


The Bottom Line for Individuals and Organizations

Let's begin with the end - what the trends and predictions shared below mean for you, your peers and leaders, and the organizations of which you're a part...

1. In case you’re still wondering, the Digital Era is not coming, and it’s not just getting started. It’s HERE.

2. While many new technology trends, like public social media platforms and mobile technology, have reached a certain maturity level, there is still significant upside potential with respect to both growth and opportunity. We are nowhere near saturation.

3. New technologies, platforms and tools, as well as new applications for existing technologies and tools, are being developed Every. Single. Second. Every. Single. Day. And there is no end in sight. Truly the only constant is change.

4. Technology development and adoption may happen first and fastest in the individual consumer space, but they eventually reach and spread throughout organizations.

5. There is a convergence among four main technology movements: social software, mobile devices and access, cloud and network computing, and data analytics. Individually, each one of these movements is incredibly powerful. Together, they have the potential to create dramatic transformations.

6. Now more than ever it’s incumbent upon organizational leaders to be focused on the future and to operate with a big-picture, wholistic, strategic perspective. Change is happening too fast and in too many different dimensions, and falling too far behind could ultimately be disastrous.

7. Even more importantly, leaders of all types must have at least a high-level understanding of how social and digital technologies work. Lacking that understanding can be viewed as irresponsible – and possibly even a breach of their fiduciary responsibilities.Leaders who don't see value in pursuing the opportunities presented by new technologies must still be prepared to manage the unavoidable challenges and risks.

8. The Digital Divide is increasingly being defined by lack of knowledge and use rather than lack of access. Professionals at all levels and at all career stages who are socially savvy and digitally engaged will reap both direct and indirect rewards, especially as the differences between them and their less-savvy peers grow. Being a “digital dinosaur” is a luxury few people can afford.

9. Individuals and organizations should no longer assume that an LIY (Learn It Yourself) approach to developing digital competencies is an effective strategy (if it ever was). People need help to climb their learning curves efficiently and effectively – and providing that help in both structured and unstructured ways is a critical investment that will pay dividends in both the short term and over time. We have to stop thinking about technology education and training as an (unnecessary) expense.


General Social and Digital Technology Trends

Mary Meeker's Latest Must-Read Presentation on the State of the Web. Call me a geek, but I look forward to this annual summation from the Kleiner Perkins partner. The 88-slide deck offers a great snapshot of Digital Era realities and possibilities.

The Future of Digital. A 137-slide deck of trends in digital media created by Henry Blodget and his team at Business Insider to kick off IGNITION: Future of Digital conference in the fall. Even when you are aware of how drastically and rapidly things are changing, some of the data is still mind boggling - especially when it’s represented visually!

Social Media around the World 2012. This 129-slide deck from InSites Consulting provides “insights on the status of social media and more than 2.000 facts & figures about social media in 19 countries. Topics cover main adoption and usage, interactions of consumers with brands, impact of branded conversations, evolution of mobile and the opportunities for structural collaboration between consumers and brands.”

Nielsen’s Social Media Report 2012. A 15-page ebook from NM Incite (a joint venture with McKinsey) that mixes text and visuals to provide a series of snapshots on topics ranging from the global social consumer to social TV and social care.


Technology Trends and Predictions for Organizations

Although the focus in these pieces is on commercial enterprises, many of the ideas and implications can be extended to organizations of all types and sizes in other sectors as well.

The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report. This report is based on a survey of more than 1,200 IT and business professionals, as well as 250 academics and 450 students, throughout the world. The bottom line… four pivotal information technologies are rapidly reshaping how enterprises operate: mobile technology, business analytics, cloud computing and social business.

Forrester – Cloud Predictions for 2013. The 14 predictions in this post nicely reflect the fact that cloud computing is coming of age. A related post on the Cisco blog – Six Predictions for Cloud Collaboration in 2013 – provides a nice complement to the Forrester predictions.

The Leading Indicators of Social Business Maturity in 2012. Although I think his numbers and estimations are too optimistic, the underlying ideas and trends that Dion Hinchcliffe addresses are spot-on. The piece also provides links to additional resources. He followed it up recently with Sizing up Social Business for 2012.

The Can't-Miss Social Media Trends For 2013. Ryan Holmes, the CEO of HootSuite, makes six predictions about the kinds of growth and changes we can expect in the year ahead. In 5 Ways Social Media Will Change The Way You Work in 2013, he offers his take on some of the ways in which social media will impact the workplace.


Digital Era Leadership

The World in 2013: A Top Ten for Business Leaders. This Economist article is a must read for everyone, not just leaders - and certainly not just business leaders. Seven of the ten trends involve social and digital technologies in some way, and their impacts potentially affect organizations of all types and sizes.

Social Media And The Boardroom: Critical Questions Directors Need To Ask. This Fast Company article offers specific suggestions that reflect the fact that “social media are no longer novel stakeholder and consumer outreach tools; they are the new normal in the modern business operations environment.”

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