Happy New Year from the Customers.com team! We believe that 2015 will be a year of grass roots activity and customer-led innovation. Consumers will continue to vote with their now meager wallets to buy the products they value and need from the companies that treat them with respect.
Young people and the swelling ranks of retirees and unemployed around the world will continue to the take both to the streets and to social media to advocate for social justice and better opportunities. Politicians will continue to ignore the will of the people they are supposed to represent, in favor of the moneyed interests who support them. Yet, entrepreneurialism and ingenuity will prevail.
The industries that are most likely to undergo major disruptions this year, in my opinion, are healthcare, energy, financial services, and information security.
In healthcare, genomic personalized medicine is dramatically transforming cancer detection and treatment. Empowered patients and advocates are demanding greater control; enlightened clinicians are embracing this movement. Personal monitoring of our health and fitness provides consumers with more actionable information that allows us to become and to remain healthy. The incumbent large healthcare deliverers and payers will have difficulty adapting to these changes. New, more consumer-centric, technology-enabled, cost-effective practices and models will continue to emerge—most of them from unlikely places, like 3rd world countries and rural settings, where a pragmatic combination of high tech and high touch will prevail.
Masked by the current temporary low oil prices, the energy sector worldwide is in the throes of major shifts from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Consumers and businesses are installing their own solar and wind power, monitoring their energy consumption, and insisting on high mileage, low emission vehicles. Energy generation and distribution is gradually becoming more distributed and more modernized. Local municipalities are exerting more control over the types of energy they’ll permit.
The biggest shifts likely in financial systems this year will be the result of yet another global “correction” combined with a rise in alternate currencies, bartering, and time-banking. Wealth will be looking for safe havens, like investments in water and desalinization. Cash flow will be king. Business models that provide rebates, rewards, and savings while rewarding good stewardship, will be more attractive to consumers than those that presume that high perceived value will warrant higher prices.
The biggest cultural shift that has taken place in the past 18 months, in the post-Snowden era, is a well-founded, deep distrust for the security and privacy of our digital information and digital assets. Perhaps the biggest opportunities for profound systemic change will emerge from this challenge to our digital sovereignty. I’ll be looking for consumer-friendly encryption solutions, alternative Internet infrastructures, more peer-to-peer and highly distributed and ephemeral networks and clouds. All of these innovations are most likely to emerge from the millions of smart digital natives around the globe.