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Today’s Trends are Gaining Momentum

Since arriving at SXSW, I’ve noticed a few trends that are hot topics at this year’s conference: wearable technology, mobile-first companies and Snap Chat. Expect great things from these three, as they’re in the early stages of their product cycles and will likely grow to new levels of success in the years to come.
Qualitative Data Will Transform Wearable Technology
Wearable technology products and companies, like FitBit, are predicted to grow in the coming years by leveraging qualitative data to enhance productivity and fitness. FitBit allows users to track quantitative data, such as steps walked and calories burned, while syncing easily understood data and stats. The company’s products simplify fitness progress for the general user by monitoring daily personal activity, identifying personal fitness trends and setting achievable goals. FitBit’s usage grew when it became one of the popular Christmas gifts of 2013. However, the increase in consumers using products like FitBit to lose weight is not enough to know if wearable technology is changing behaviors or habits. According to some of the experts at SXSW, the answer is no but this could change with the next generation of wearable technology. Wearable technology 2.0 is predicted to be more anthropomorphic in its ability to read and connect emotionally with the user. As the functionality of this new technology evolves, wearable technology may go from a nice-to-have to a must-have item.
Being a Mobile-First Company
Top executives from Pinterest, Box, Eventbrite and Airbnb shared their recent experiences with transitioning their internal structure to become truly mobile-first companies. Pinterest’s head of mobile and product engineering Mark Smallcombe said, “We realized the power of mobile when we released our mobile site and had more site visits that day than we ever had on the Web.” By looking at how consumers use technology in their daily lives, Pinterest identified the need to mirror customer behavior with user experience. The company quickly made adjustments internally so that culturally the organization would begin to think about the Web and mobile as one experience. Andrew Vilcsak, mobile engineering manager at Airbnb said, “We dismantled our mobile team and created collaborative development teams, each containing a mobile engineer. We simply told the teams when they develop, they develop with Web and mobile both in mind instead of it being completely separate functions.” Martin Destagnol, head of mobile engineering at Box, summed up the session nicely: “A mobile-first company means thinking through the user experience that allows consumers to have one experience on multiple devices.”
So what does this mean for companies?
  • Continuously dissect the consumer experience and develop based on actual behavior.
  • Know the individual capabilities of Web and mobile, but develop as one experience.
  • Transform the structure of internal development teams so mobile and Web are housed together. If they’re not working together, you increase the chance of user experiences not being seamless between devices.
Snap Chat
I haven’t attended one session solely about Snap Chat, but it seems to be a topic that gets mentioned frequently. While Snap Chat was once used for teenagers to send inappropriate content to each other, consumers are now recognizing the value of “disappearing content,” As the name suggest, it doesn’t stay online forever. So instead of exchanging just  visual content, new platforms are being developed to extend the experience to texts and even to exchange large files.
Dissipate Logo
Dissipate is a file exchange platform that allows the user to control how many times the file can be viewed before it self-destructs.
Confide Logo
Confide is a platform that allows users to take their text “off the record” by self-destructing after being sent.
As these platforms gain momentum and build a bigger following, some brands will have the opportunity to also participate in the self-destructing conversation by sending out exclusive content that may be short-lived but may spread virally while it is “alive.”

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