This year we should expect rising levels of nomophobia, rapidly changing expectations and increased user demand for device experiences everywhere. These predictions are based on trends across my company’s Cloud Platform, which also highlights the importance of cross-device experiences, as consumers look to engage with brands across different devices to build their own customised online experiences.

As individuals want access to the Web anytime, anywhere, and expect the right experience based on exact user context, one of the biggest challenges in 2014 will be whether or not brands can deliver on this promise and will fundamentally shake-up how organisations need to interact with their customers.

Enterprises will have to be ready for a bigger shift than has ever been seen before. Brands no longer belong just to a company. They co-habit with the people who choose to interact with it and, by the end of 2014, this will resonate more than ever.

2013 saw many brands really shift focus and place mobility at the heart of their web strategy for the first time – but this really is just the beginning. We are now starting to understand the reliance consumers have on the mobile Web, and the importance of both the device and the context it is used in when delivering mobile experiences.

2014 will see a further explosion of new devices, with many users now owning multiple devices, often engaging with different devices at the same time. They expect brands will serve up an optimal version of their Website, delivering the perfect experience based on the device they are using, location and other elements, such as bandwidth and internet speed.

Lives Will Be Run On Mobile

Nomophobia is the fear of not being mobile connected due to a lack of battery power, no signal or loss of one’s mobile phone. Individuals find themselves unable to function normally without the presence of their mobile phone. Is this due to unequivocal reliance or the increasingly high expectations they have from their devices to help manage the day-to-day?

People expect information to be accessible when they need it. People expect to be able to pay for things like parking meters or groceries with their mobile. And with the introduction of smart watches and wearables, people who love their devices can never be without them.

  • This trend will be driven by new device categories such as smart watches and wearable gadgets, but less so by innovations such as Google Glass.
  • Considerable growth is expected in the wearable tech space. For instance, many are predicting as many as 20 million smart watches to be sold in 2014.
  • Exetech is developing the XS-3, a touch screen Android smart watch. With both Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity, plus GPS, it allows wearers to call directly from their wrist.
  • Wearable tech brings the Internet closer to the user than ever before. Sensors can provide information for things such as health monitoring, while the use of location data becomes absolutely vital. This is the first step towards consumer acceptance of connecting everyday objects to the Web.

Device Landscape Changes As Emerging Markets Fuel Growth

In 2014, an increasing number of individuals will be in a position to acquire their first-ever mobile device, especially in emerging markets. Here, mobile devices will often be used as the primary or only connection to the Internet. It will be more likely than ever that a customer’s first interaction with a brand will be on a mobile device.

  • More low cost devices will be available through more outlets. For example, supermarkets around the world will stock cheaper alternatives to leading device brands. If established vendors do not respond with increased innovation and more choice for consumers, they will lose share.
  • 2014 will be the year of the continuum of screen sizes. As more devices are released in the 5 to 7 inch range, traditional device classifications without more information become less useful. This time next year, we may start hearing users referring to their ‘screens’ rather than specific devices like a phone or tablet.
  • There is lots of room for growth. Smartphone penetration in countries such as Brazil (26%) and India (13%) remains low. In many of these countries, consumers often opt for local vendor handsets and more frequently in the 5 to 7 inch range.
  • As of July 2013, there were 26 different screen sizes among the top 100 most used devices on the Netbiscuits Cloud Platform. By the end of 2014, this could easily exceed 30.

Poor Experiences Will Be Punished By Customers

2014 is set to be the year of frustration for consumers who expect consistent cross-device experiences. Providing the ability to move quickly from one device to another and continue an activity or multi-task with numerous devices will become a brand differentiator in 2014. Organisations that fail to identify where the cross-screen or multi-screen experience is broken will find themselves at an increasing competitive disadvantage.

  • More enterprises are thinking about how cross-screen experiences can be built into design considerations, while technology such as HTML5 is rising to the challenge.
  • A large majority of C-level executives in the USA state that multi-screen is critical or very important to their strategy (80%). The USA is far ahead of the UK, where 51% have stated the same. It is still early stages for multi-screen, but market leaders will start setting the pace in 2014.
  • We should be aiming towards being able to swipe an experience from one device to another, although search is likely to remain the most common way of picking up an activity on another device in 2014.

Customised Experiences Will Win Customers

Individuals want devices and experiences on those devices that match their lifestyle and the context that surrounds them. Organisations that correctly understand ‘customisation for the masses’ will be the biggest winners in 2014.

The key is identifying the right ingredients that can each be individually tweaked to give the user the sense of something that is highly personalised and designed for them. The customisable components can be identified by analytics. Analytics that provide actionable insights will be a key 2014 theme.

  • Combining behaviour on the Web with mobile analytics unlocks an unmatched opportunity for marketers. Marketers will play a central role in defining product roadmaps based on actual customer requirements, and have the ability to adjust the brand to be exactly what the customer wants.
  • 86% of marketers believe big data will change the function of marketing, and a further 62% say that it has already fundamentally changed their role.
  • Vendors are already trying to be all things to all people, from mobile devices that run Windows and Android, through to Google’s Project Ara, which enables users to add their own modules to mobiles, such as keyboards and sensors.
  • The desire for customisation will drive new technologies, such as 3D printing. Imagine printing your own device accessories! 2014 will be the first foray into an exploding world of customisation.