Business Predictions That Won’t Come True In 2013

"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future."—Niels Bohr, Nobel Prize-winning physicist

In these unstable times, it has become difficult to make predictions about what we can expect in 2013. So, this year, I decided to offer some predictions for what won’t happen in 2013. Here are 8 things you can safely assume won’t happen in the next twelve months.

1. We, the public, will by and large do nothing about the erosion of our online privacy. The lure of ‘free’ will continue to trump our sensibilities. We will continue to refuse to pay for services that respect our privacy and honor service level agreements. We will continue to use Facebook and other services that treat our identity and intellectual capital as their own. The recent Instagram incident is but a singular example of many such services. This will be a recurring theme. For what we can do to protect ourselves, check out this post.

2. On a related note, we, the public, will by and large do nothing about the erosion of our civil liberties. The continued threats of terrorism and of increasingly sophisticated organized crime syndicates will continue to give cause to authorities to erode our civil liberties, online and off. For an example of what I am talking about, check out this recent podcast from NPR’s "This American Life."

3. Information overload will not get better. With the increased popularity of tablets, we now have even more devices to interrupt our daily lives. Recent research from Forrester found that 2/3 of workers now use at least two devices for work and 28% use three devices. As we juggle yet more devices, the well-known effect of stress caused by context switching and multitasking will get worse. See this recent post for some strategies for dealing with information overload.

4. Email will not decline. Predictions about the demise of email and its replacement with Twitter-like activity streams are premature. While activity streams will gain popularity, email is still the only ubiquitous, standardized and completely interoperable online communication tool we have. Universal access and interoperability will ensure it remains our primary mode of communicating online for many years to come. Here are some more thoughts on the future of activity streams.

5. People won’t stop bringing their own tablets and smartphones to work. Organizations will have to extend their Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs to cope. Case in point, Apple has already shipped 100 million iPads, and another 100 million are projected to be sold in 2013. According to Forrester Research, the greatest needs for the tablet at work are to access business applications and for collaboration. Forget about Facebook and Twitter, the focus will be on enterprise applications to do real work. Here are some practical tips for making sure BYOD doesn’t turn into "Bring Your Own Disaster."

6. The Internet of Things will not take off in 2013. These new technologies that let devices communicate with each other using the Internet will find commercial and industrial uses, but lack of standards and proprietary implementations will hamper it widespread adoption. I am still looking forward to owning a washing machine that reports how many loads of laundry I do every week to its manufacturer so they can sell me laundry detergent.

7. We will not get sick of talking about ‘the cloud,’ big data, or social. Believe it or not, articles and posts will continue to appear. Despite an infinite amount of ‘ink’ already spilled on these topics, there is no sign of abatement any time soon. On a related note, is there a statute of limitations on hyping a subject?

8. Social Initiatives will not stop failing. A combined lack of business metrics and pressure to keep up with the social Joneses will continue to drive companies to invest blindly in social media. Here's how to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

What do you think? To see how I did in 2012, check out my last year’s predictions here.

—Author David Lavenda is a product strategy and marketing executive at a high-tech company. He also does academic research on information overload in organizations and he is an international scholar for the Society for the History of Technology. He tweets from @dlavenda.

[Image: 500px user Benoit Dubé]

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