Ah yes, it’s the end of the year.
That time of year when business pundits, great and imagined, offer their views on the hottest trends for the following year. And their predictions for the following year. And both. Or both.
Although the dictionary offers different definitions for the words “trend” and “prediction,” that distinction seems to be lost on many pundits.
My favorite list of 2012 trends comes from David Armano. Writing on the HBR blog site, Armano’s trends include Convergence Emergence, The Cult of Influence, Gamification Nation, Social Sharing, Social Television, and the Micro Economy. It’s an excellent list, I agree with each of them.
But, introducing his list, Armano wrote “”Here are six predictions to ponder, in no particular order…”
And that’s where I have a problem.
Are things like convergence emergence, gamification, social sharing, etc. not already happening?
I think they are. So what’s the “prediction” that Mr. Armano is making? Predicting that they will continue to happen?
I don’t think that’s what he’s doing. I think he’s culling from a long list of things that are happening — and that might happen — and providing the rest of us with some reasons for why we should we focus on these things. That’s what a good consultant does. And, as I said, I think the list is very good. But I don’t think they’re “predictions.”
Other lists don’t strike me as nearly as useful. Or as clearly labeled “trend” or “prediction.”
CustomerThink published its 2012 Customer Experience Predictions: Positives and Pitfalls. Included on that list were predictions (if that’s what you want to call them) like: “Innovation is in the air,” “Understanding and acceptance of customer experience as a business strategy will improve,” and “The definition of customer experience will continue to be misunderstood.”
I had a boss a number of years ago who used to tell me: “If you’re going to make a prediction, it has to be something that you can measure today and in the future in order to be able to say whether or not your prediction came true.”
CustomerThink’s predictions don’t meet that criteria. How will we know if “customer experience as a business strategy” really improves or not?
Even worse, “customer experience will continue to be misunderstood” implies that customer experience is misunderstood today. You might believe that, but I could easily argue the opposite. The problem isn’t that customer experience is misunderstood, it’s that it’s hard to execute. There, take that.
Some firms’ list of trends left me shaking my head in confused wonder.
Chicago-based marketing agency, Upshot, released its trends report for 2012. On the list:
Guruism. Will your brand be the go-to guide on a given topic?
Collective Curation. Credible brands can become hubs for Collective Curation, bringing a focused theme to life through the voices of others.
Anarchy in the Aisle. The Path to Purchase is dead. Long live the Path to Purchase.
Mindfulness over Matter. Situated between a tumultuous past and an uncertain future, consumers are increasingly finding solace in the present moment.
Seamless Tech. Technology-enhanced marketing will increasingly provide seamless, simple experiences.
Um, yeah, sure.
DreamGrow has a very interesting list of 21 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2012. I think this list is very good. Ironically, many of the “trends” on the list include the word “will” which really make them predictions, no?
My favorite trendiction, however, comes from so many sources that they’re too numerous to mention: 2012 will be the “year of the customer.” Click on the link to see what I had to say about that nearly four years ago. Some things never change.