My take on what we’ll talk about in 2016

That time of the year again, when we apart from promising ourselves to cut down on the gifts for the next Christmas and to start spending more time at the gym, also summarize 2015 and trying to predict what 2016 has in hold.

Legacy organizations will continue beef up digital capabilities
A clear trend over the last years has been legacy organizations building up own digital capabilities beyond just ordering projects from consulting firms of different kinds. However, as digital teams within traditional organizations grow bigger, they will realize that digital doesn’t thrive in a silo. In order to retain and make use of the new competencies they’ll need to reorganize themselves, leave the top-down governance structures behind and go for a more agile and lean approach. My prediction is that way of working and organizing digital will be a big question during 2016 for many legacy organizations who has been successful in attracting talent. Will 2016 be the year when the empire strikes back?

Likely even more true in 2016 and beyond – a study from Cap Gemini Consulting and MIT some years back showed digiratis being overall 26 % more profitable than their competitors

Following the above, another trend that I believe will take off for real during 2016 is legacy organizations both learning from and approaching startups. According to Acando45 per cent of Swedish larger companies are already experimenting with digital business opportunities. Some of them are approaching startups with the ambition to find joint ventures such as Telia and Spotify (not really a startup anymore, but hey). Others are focusing on building their own innovation hubs such as Telia Purple+ and Danske Bank. The latter is an interesting way to kickstart and accelerate innovation, but will be challenging in terms of feeding back into and building structural capital for the ‘mother organization’ if it becomes an excuse to not evolve that organization as well. As for startups, looking at the current state in Silicon Valley a firm guess is that some valuations will need to come down and reality will eventually reach some of them, potentially making them interesting candidates for legacy corporations. I predict we’ll see some interesting buyouts in 2016.

Fibre optic Internet Access[4]

The digital divide becomes more and more obvious
As digitalization moves further into essentially every aspect of modern societies, the gap between those who are on par with the future and those who for some reason are left behind will become more and more obvious, which risk creating a new divide not only between, but also within societies. My prediction is that 2016 will be the year when we really start to see and discuss the implications and how to fix this. Maybe even more so in my native Sweden where we currently have many immigrants arriving, fleeing from war and terror, and in most cases from less digitalized societies.

IoT has yet to cross the chasm
In a year when 2016 is getting summarized, I believe quite a few will be disappointed that IoT has yet to cross the chasm and reach mass market. Sure, achievements will be made during 2016 and new applications will surely emerge where digital services enrich physical products, changes the idea of value and creates new potential revenue streams. My prediction is that smart homes and personal health gadgets will continue to be the forerunners with the latter starting to become mainstream and the health industry starting to experiment.

However, with lacking obvious industry standards, no obvious ecosystem and companies yet having to understand and adopt to the potential business opportunities, I’m predicting 2016 will be another year of prep and 2017 and onwards will be when connectivity and data utilization across devices will take off for real on the consumer market. Would however love to be wrong on this one…

Omnichannel will (finally) move beyond Powerpoint
Ever since omnichannel was namned retail buzzword of the year, back in 2012, there has been a lot of talk going on but not as much action as expected. However, as e-tailers continue to open bricks and mortar stores and as traditional retailers finally start to mature within e-commerce, my prediction is that 2016 will be the year where omnichannel finally takes off. That is for the companies that will manage to organize accordingly and move away from traditional channel thinking into a more holistic CX approach. Traditional retailers have an advantage here, at least on paper, owning all that physical space just waiting to be put to work in creating seamless experiences for the consumers.

3D printing moves beyond industry application and consumer gimmicks
It has been discussed for quite some time now. At the same time the technology has matured. I am well aware that 3D printing is already disrupting prototyping, industry processes and some aspects of health care. However, so far the boom on the consumer market and thus the disruption of manufacturing is yet to happen. Price points on consumer 3D printers has at the same time fallen, albeit mostly used for printing gimmicky artifacts for private use at home.

My prediction is that we during 2016 will see more experiments with new business models and ecosystems, for example by companies licensing manufacturing to 3D print shops (or opening their own units) operating on-demand close to consumers. Instead focusing on revenue-streams by selling the intellectual property of drawings etc, support, rental models and such. Over time, this should represent a major shift from factory and logistics planning and ‘Just in Time’-thinking, into a greater focus on innovation and CX.

Moving beyond active swipe, drag, point and clicks
My prediction is that during 2016 other ways to interact with interfaces will start to become mainstream. The mobile phone as the reactive control unit of our connected lifestyle will start to reach its peak in the western world.

Instead, new devices will listen and learn from our behavior and make proactive decisions tailored individually for us by combining that data with other sources. Self-service will start to get automated by digital ‘consiglieres’, likely starting with low-interest and convenience-based interactions. Enabling us to make better and more precise decisions as well as freeing up time to focus on what is important and enjoyable. Fjord has some thoughts on this, called micromoments in their recently released trend reportFrog has some interesting ideas as well and Patrick Gilbert has discussed it (in Swedish). More long-term, this will have huge implications not least on how companies selling low-interest products and commodities market those products.

Growth rate for smartphones slowing down as the market matures

As quite a few are using Siri today and we’ve been talking about aspects of  this since before Google Glass, the technology is there and it shouldn’t come as a surprise. But believe 2016 will be the year the mass-market is ready.

Although still early, during 2016 we’ll also see holographic technology mature. This will create a decline in the need for all those separate screens. Even though I don’t have that much hope for Microsoft Hololens as a product, I still believe we’ll see the first real consumer applications where digital and physical truly blend together during 2016.

I’ll start my 2016 by leaving my current job where I’ve been driving digital transformation and owning CX strategy at Nobia. After a break which will be spent in Abruzzo, I’ll go back to Ziggy Creative Colony, a digital innovation consultancy where I was before joining Nobia. This time for a role as Account Director and Senior Strategist. Looking forward to yet another interesting chapter on this fun journey.

Happy new year!

Image credit: JD Hancock @ Flickr



Christoffer Vollmer

Strategist, project manager, economist, change agent & experience designer with almost 20 years experience of digital strategy, transformation & disruption. Blogging about strategy, disruptive innovation, design thinking and digital transformation.