Archive for January, 2011

We have officially begun 2011, and rightfully so, with much optimism. As I documented previously, 2010 was an extremely exciting year for both entrepreneurs and investors, and we are now entering a new year with an extreme tailwind at our back. With innovations in flash sales, location-based services, internet television and the tablet, the table is now set for an even bigger, and potentially more disruptive year.

There have been many predictions and prognostications on which companies will succeed, which companies will IPO, etc. I’m not going to try to make such predictions; instead, I’d just like to share with you a few areas in which I’m very excited about, in order to (hopefully) get us all prepared for the upcoming year in technology:

  1. The merger of social and ecommerce. The two most popular trends in the consumer internet world are merging at a fast pace. The emergence of social as a readily acceptable form of social discovery is not only allowing people to find new things tailored to their interests, but also is allowing retailers and advertisers to target and find more valuable customers with less effort. As commerce online and through mobile devices increases, it is inevitable that social will be used to customize shopping experiences. Currently, there are many different niche sites focused on social commerce discovery; this year, however, I believe we are ready to see a big player emerge as a platform to form social shopping identities. Once these profiles become easily accessible and indexable, social shopping and targeting will implicitly begin to replicate offline activity. That is exciting!
  2. The saturation of the coupon and the emergence of loyalty. Okay, so maybe that is an exaggeration, coupons will never become saturated. However, now that Groupon (and its competitors) have given local retailers a new medium in which to effectively sell leftover inventory and bring new customers to the door, the next step will be to help merchants retain loyal customers. Current loyalty programs are ineffective, decentralized and hard to redeem. I believe given the effectiveness of group sales to promote new expenditure, retailers will more readily look to the startup community to offer more effective loyalty offerings. Shopkick, Offermatic and CheckPoints represent a new breed of deal platforms; however, I believe these only begin to touch the tip of the iceberg. Once entrepreneurs realize the amount of dollars retailers (especially the big national brands) are willing to spend to retain loyalty customers, things are bound to heat up very quickly.
  3. NFC will FINALLY enable the mobile wallet. Personally, I am extremely excited to witness the beginning of the mobile wallet revolution (anyone who spend any time with me knows how much I hate carrying cash and my wallet around). With rumors that Apple and Google will place RFID chips in their new smartphones, the boom of near field communication (NFC) is inevitable. All major payment networks (both banks and credit cards networks), and new payment platforms such as Paypal and Zong, know this day is near and are fast gearing up for the day the flip is switched on NFC. Soon, smartphone owners will be able to open up an app for each specific credit card, scan their phone, and checkout at a store. Now imagine if location-based services were smart enough to team up with mobile payment services…

Forgive my enthusiasm, but as you can tell, there is a lot to be excited about in the upcoming year. After last year’s successes, we are now on the precipice of even greater innovation and disruption. Disruption, however, does not come about without hard work; so now that everyone has returned from holiday after some fine Christmas Ale, it is time to innovate! Seasons Greetings and good luck to all in the new year!

As always, I appreciate comments and discussions on each of these posts. I don’t profess to always be right, but I hope my thoughts can be used as a springboard for further discourse.


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