In 2012, technology will continue to make consumers' lives easier and more productive - at home and at work. And consumers themselves will be a major force behind technology's direction and continued advancements. In its annual review of the top consumer-technology trends for 2012, Verizon sees consumers getting much more involved not only in the process of evaluating new products and technologies but in helping to create them as well.
"It used to be that business and government created technology that eventually made it to the masses. Email, the Internet, and personal computers are three examples of how technology used to evolve," said Shadman Zafar, senior vice president for product development at Verizon. "Today, technological advancement is no longer driven from a 'push-through' model where consumers are simply on the receiving end. End users - consumers - are driving technological change and creating a world where what they want is always accessible to them."
Here's Verizon's list of the top nine technology trends that will be driven by consumers in 2012:
- Life Without Borders - Technology is allowing the lines between the different aspects of consumers' lives to merge, giving them a virtual identity and allowing them access to the different parts of their lives on their terms. Videos and games are no longer found only in the living room, and productivity is no longer bound by the cubicle.
- We're All Creative Geniuses - Companies used to offer content, services and products and consumers would either buy in or not. Now, consumers are an integral part of the creative process, and this co-creation model is quickly becoming the new norm. That means more piano-playing cat videos, but it will also mean more meaningful user experiences.
- Democratization of Service - Consumers will be much more involved in evaluating products and services, through the increased use of ratings, reviews, forums and social media commentary, which are picking up steam in terms of frequency and relevance.
- Future of Work - The technology most people use at home and elsewhere in their personal lives is a lot more advanced than the technology in their offices. Increasingly, consumers will bring to the office the technology - smartphones, notebooks, etc. - that is simplifying their personal lives. As a result, consumers will increase their productivity and efficiency at work. And that means IT departments will continue to become more nimble.
- More Shelf Space - It's why you'll have more shelf space that's important. Physical belongings, from CDs to books to pictures, are evaporating into the cloud, and even hard drives are slimming down. For the most part, consumers could care less about jargon or the title of "the cloud." They just want out-of-the-box experiences for ones that used to be more complex - and since that's happening at a faster pace, we'll continue to see less clutter and more virtual shelves. Nonetheless, if you must know what the cloud is, click here to view a short and entertaining video on the topic.
- Value of High-IQ Networks - The average American home will go from having about four connected devices to double that by 2014. Many of the Verizon employees who were polled in an informal survey far exceeded that number. With each new smart device or app, the value of the network that connects and enables them increases exponentially. The quality of the network will become increasingly relevant and "cool," which results in better user experiences for those who choose wisely.
- What's That You're Watching? - The old model of home entertainment is dead. Video is appearing everywhere - from movies on tablets to video conferences (both gabbing teens and on-the-go executives). New infrastructure, apps and partnerships will be formed to meet the growing demand.
- Digital Door Locks - No need to call a locksmith. We're talking about securing consumers' virtual valuables (identity and personal information). Today's anything, anywhere access underscores what Internet security experts have been saying for years: Security has to be everyone's responsibility. Even the basics aren't cared for in some instances; in fact many people still don't have a password on their home routers and don't encrypt important communications. A proliferation of tools and services will help make consumers more security conscious.
- Easy Green - Who doesn't want to help save the environment and save money in the process? Smart energy management is going mainstream, and consumers will increasingly rely on a variety of plug-and-play devices - from smart thermostats to lights that know you're walking into the room and light up - to monitor and control energy usage. This will lead to lower energy costs. A recent government study found people curbed their energy use once they had the means to monitor and adjust their usage.
Verizon has also identified the hot business technology trends for 2012. Those trends are available at http://owl.li/7tgd5. No surprise: The "consumerization" of technology is creating increasingly stronger links between the B2B and consumer spaces.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 107 million total connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500. A Dow 30 company with $106.6 billion in 2010 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 195,000. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.