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EDITORIAL 2019: The shape of things to come

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Happy New Year! Yes, here we are in 2019… so what does the year ahead have in store? With CES in full swing this week – and Brexit, but let’s not dwell on that self-inflicted idiocy – there is much in the press about technology trends for 2019: but what of the telemedia industry? Here are some thoughts as to what we may see in the year ahead…

The internet of everything

One of the wider tech tips for 2019 is the extension of the Internet of Things (IoT) to the Internet of Everything (IoE) – this is going to have huge ramifications for networks and devices, content, marketing, commerce and payments as everything starts to become a channel to consumers and a place for them to buy things.

From a network point of view, it is going to see ‘old’ 2G and some 3G spectrum used to help connect devices and ‘stuff’ to the web, which is going to provide network operators with the impetus to push on at speed with 5G deployment for ‘primary’ devices such as phones, tablets and other mobile devices.

From a content point of view, as we shall see below, everyone from marketers to media companies to retailers and brands are going to have to start thinking of how to offer interaction and even transaction across a host of currently unfamiliar platforms.

For example, this Christmas has seen a surge in the number of smart speak/digital voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home being switched on. Here everyone associated with content, retail and marketing needs to look at how to use these devices as channels to market and, perhaps for some youngsters, the only channel to market.

Learning what channels are in play and how to use them is going to be a key task for telemedia players in 2019.

5G

2019 is also going to see the beginnings of 5G roll out – but more than that it is going to be the year when how 5G can be used and what changes it will bring will start to be debated.

This has already been set in motion at CES in Las Vegas this week, with Verizon showcasing some of the key uses it sees for 5G networks going forward.

Perhaps the most interesting is that of the New York Timesshowcasing just how reporters will be able to deliver immediate multimedia reports, via mobile, for mobile, instantly from the scene of a story, pulling in a host of graphics and images.

This could transform content creation for media companies and brands, as well as being a new way for social media to develop, if the same techniques and ideas are applied p2p.

5G could also revolutionise flying infrastructure, becoming the bedrock of drone technologies for everything from providing 5G connectivity itself to ecommerce delivery.

A new era of voice

To date most developments in mobile have centred on the screen, forgetting that the device has eyes and ears – a camera(s) and mics. These two facets of mobile are going to come to the fore in 2019.

While voice devices such as Alexa and Google Home are appearing in homes to help control devices and provide a new layer of interaction with the web – music, weather, news, shopping and so on – the same tech is creeping into mobiles.

Already, the kids who live in Alexa-enabled homes are starting to interrogate the internet on their phones using voice, and so telemedia players need to be ready for voice. Ironically, it almost harks back to the pre-internet days when premium rate voice was the cash cow… these days may yet return as voice interaction with the web makes a ‘comeback’. Whether this means that chat services and other voice services return is anyone’s guess, but much of the expertise picked up back in the 1990s may yet come back into play.

Visual interaction

At the same time that voice services are starting to come back into play, the camera on the phone is also starting to find new ways to play. It has already found limited use as a bar and QR code scanner, but advances in image recognition – as well as the consumer move to pointing and shouting – means that now visual search and purchase are becoming a thing.

Some retailers – H&M, Asos and eBay to name three of the biggest – have already experimented with using visual search to help narrow down the choice in the infinite aisle of the internet, but this is just the beginning.

Soon it will be the way to find anything: just hold the phone up to it and ask “what is that?” or “where can I get that?” and the internet of everything will find it, tell you and probably then direct you to where you can buy it (then have it delivered to you by a 5G controlled delivery drone at a location of your choosing).

For ecommerce, this is a revolutionary extension to what is currently available. For telemedia companies it offers another way to get content found and another new set of criteria to build into the monetisation of content and services.

New platforms

Something else that is going to come into play in 2019 is that the sites online where commerce of all kinds take place are likely to also change.

Social media sites – particularly Facebook, Instagram and Pinterst – are going to become platforms for content consumption and for purchasing of goods and services.

However, other players are also going to enter this market. Publishers are going to increasingly become arbiters and curators of goods that align with their content and will increasingly use this position to act as the commerce platforms that sell these goods.

Already women’s magazine Marie Claire is running its Marie Claire Edit service where editors curate ‘looks’ from various retailers and the publishers sells those goods. The retail/brand fulfils it, but the discovery and actual act of purchase takes place on the publisher site.

This model could spread beyond fashion into all aspects of commerce and is one to watch: service and content providers need to look at how they can become curators themselves and/or how to get their goods and services out there on these other platforms.

Payments

As ever, billing and payments is going to move on in 2019, with carrier billing expected to creep further into the mix. The move towards different platforms acting as the merchant site is going to offer some impetus to make carrier billing more of a mainstream alternative for digital goods and content as it has the ability to smooth out the purchase path from discovery to payment on mobile in this new world order.

Mobile ticketing and payment for time – such as carparking, bike rental, tolls and more – is also going to grow across 2019 as organisations realise that the carrier billing model is a great tool for making one-off payments (as opposed to regular payments in a signed-up service) for users. It also ties in well with making ticketing a mobile experience.

Much to look forward to

So there is much to look forward to across 2019: the world of digital commerce and value added services is going to see some interesting changes – with huge infrastructure revamps such as 5G changing not only what is connected to the web, but also how those sites are used.

Voice and visual services are going to be huge this year and it is going to become of increasing importance that those in the telemedia space put it to use – it isn’t necessarily about creating new services, but voice and visual search enabling existing ones.

Oh, and there’s that Brexit thing happening… who knows where that’ll take us…

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Editor and content creator for Telemedia – for 18 years and counting

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