2016: Get Ready For The Year Of...

My rule of thumb in the introduction of any new major technology-based transformation has always been that when people say that ‘this is the year of (fill in the blank)’, then it definitely is not.

As 2015 comes to a close, there are countless predictions, many well founded and others somewhat speculative, about what the next year will bring.

However, for the most part, technological innovation doesn’t follow annual calendar cycles.

We’ve had the year of smartphones, the year of tablets, the year of beacons, the year of SMS, the year of mobile payments (more than once),  the year of social and many more over the years. You get the idea.

Generally, determining the year of something typically can be more accurately done historically, as in looking back. Though hardly as sexy as prognosticating that the coming year is the year of something in particular, it will be a year or so from now that we’ll see if 2016 was a year of anything.

So before any one suggests that 2016 will be the year of The Internet of Things, it’s not really going to happen that way, where consumers suddenly rush out to get a smart device because smart devices exist.

A more realistic scenario is that when a consumer needs to replace something, they are more likely to acquire that new something with smarts.

For example, when the smartphone revolution started, every mobile phone owner didn’t instantly ditch their old clamshell for a smartphone (yes, some of us did, I know).

However, over time smartphones replaced feature phones as the new standard, so that when it was time for a consumer to get a new phone, for whatever reason, the standard they were presented with was a smartphone.

Another example is the smartwatch. About a quarter (24%) of Internet user bought a watch in the last year and 6% of them were smartwatches, according to a survey by Mintel.

And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to project that if anywhere near the same 24% buy a watch in the next year that certainly more than 6% of them will be getting a smartwatch. That’s the way it works.

All of the traditional watchmaking companies know this, as do the new smartwatch makers. That’s why more traditional watchmakers are extending their portfolio into the smartwatch arena.

That doesn’t mean that 2016 will be the year of the smartwatch, just that more people will be migrating in that direction.

When a technological revolution is actually in the year of, many people don’t recognize it because it’s in the process of becoming mainstream.

So as 2015 draws to a close, here’s to the coming year of whateverit occurs to be.

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