Remember 2013? Of course you do, it was only a month ago. Startup events became a weekly affair, some super-hyped startups (Gidsy, Amen, Moped) failed to make it on their own and investors/people with regular-sized attention spans became increasingly wary of “hype”. Ring any bells? Anyway now the dust has settled, we can look into our startup crystal balls for 2014.
Here are three trends we noticed creeping up throughout 2013 that we think will continue to grow throughout 2014.
1. Big data visualisation
2013 was the year when everyone realise what a lot of stuff there was that existed, spawning the term “Big Data”. All this content! Let’s collect it all!
In itself, the term doesn’t really mean much – the main thing to worry about is how exactly little old humans like ourselves are going to be able to use any of that data, when some of us can hardly use a spreadsheet. Most humans can’t make decisions based on the swathes of data we have, which is where visualisation comes in – which could apply (on a small scale) to making infographic, like Tufte’s favourite example depicting Napoleon’s troops’ march to Russia (above) or maps to analyse all this damn content that keeps getting created (5 billion gigabytes of data was created every 2 days in 2011). This is the main area that things will develop in in 2014.
2. Internet of things
This is a term coined in 2009 by Kevin Ashton. There are lots of different definitions but the main takeaway is the move from humans inputting data onto the internet (the amount of stock a shop has, for example) to all objects having a unique tag that communicates directly with computers (the tags on sold items tell the Internet that they are no longer available themselves).
Songdo in Korea, a city in which all objects are planned to be connected to computers, is nearly finished. These computers will then take over many administrative functions of humans, representing a first attempt at the Internet of Things. Developments here could make many teething issues with the system clear. We’ll also see how the international cybersecurity community respond to the continued investment in this area, as it’s undeniable that the Internet of Things could leave us vulnerable to cyber attacks to a far more physical level than previously.
3. Design thinking
This is the concept that designers come up with ideas to solve problems better than anyone else, and so (current thinking goes) we should look at the processes designers use to solve problems and mimic them when coming up with ideas for products. A famous problem-solving exercise was carried out with engineers, architects and some coloured building blocks – with the result that scientists are more likely to break a problem down into component issues (analysis), rather than come up with a variety of whole solutions and see which one works best (synthesis).
2014 could see the implementation of this process into business, as product development moves away from solution analysis towards solution synthesis.