This is the 30th in a series of 32 posts—each one a section from Euro RSCG Worldwide PR’s “The Big Little Book of Nexts,” which in total features more than 150 sightings for 2012. It’s the biggest, most robust annual trends report ever from @erwwpr CEO Marian Salzman and her trendspotting team. To download the entire report, go to the Brainfood tab at eurorscgpr.com.
With the death of Steve Jobs and his biography making every best-seller list (and downloaded on iPads, naturally), many are left scratching their head as to what is next for tech (there’s talk of an Apple TV set). Tech watchers will surely be watching how the new iChief, Tim Cook, will fare, but here are some other things to look at in the world of tech for 2012. We assume you already know the cloud is the big news, with all of us storing our vitals on a fluffy cloud in the (virtual) sky, but what else is trending? Although it has been said that the world is quickly becoming a woman’s domain, as women make strides in the workplace and manage to balance family and work life, curiously, tech fields have always been the domain of the menfolk. But that’s changing, and look for 2012 to be the year of the geekette, with women such as 28-year-old Rachel Sterne, who reigns supreme over New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s digital efforts with the coveted title of chief digital officer. She even earned a recent profile in Vogue, complete with designer duds, high heels and smart thinking. And in April 2011, Caroline McCarthy, formerly a social media writer at CNET, joined Google in New York as a staffer on its Trends and Insights Team. Rachel Sklar, another young and attractive woman drawn to tech, is editor-at-large for Mediaite.com, a site about media and tech and everything in between. Plus, IBM has named Virginia Rometty its first female CEO—so it’s not just startups that are calling out to females in this tech economy. Maybe it’s because women excel at communications and have the gift of gab, but look for women to succeed in everything from startups to media gigs when it comes to all things tech. And on the personal connectivity front, 2012 will continue to be a stellar time for social media. Take TenCent, the largest social network in China, with more than 500 million members. But TenCent is more fantasy than reality; members use virtual names, virtual identities and virtual photos or avatars. On social networks from Beijing to the Bay Area, consumers will be especially interested in reading reviews that will help them trust brands, starting with holiday purchases and extending as far as social media will take them. In India, personal connectivity will be booming. According to the Efy Times, by 2020 about 1.5 billion devices will be connected, including mobile phones, tablets and other machine-to-machine connected devices. The number of smartphones in use will grow fourfold between 2010 and 2015, to 101 million. Mobile-connected tablets will grow to 9.9 million. In fact, “Got tablet?” could easily be the ad campaign of 2012. Tablets will contribute to a growing work-life blur as employees bring their personal tablets and smartphones to the office to complement their work-issued machine. Biggest watchers of the tablet trend will be the publishing industry (about 10 percent of all new U.S. book sales are digital, led by textbooks, children’s books and travel guides). And the PC industry: Tech forecasters estimate that the sale of 35 million tablets in 2011 could reduce PC sales by 11 million to 28 million units. And where will the next Silicon Valley be? Look for the race to begin, with smart bets on Pittsburgh. With a good cost of living and great schools such as Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh is going tech, and local entrepreneur Sean Ammirati, the founder of mSpoke, is working hard to make that happen while promoting local talent. Ammirati is working with a team of entrepreneurs and business leaders on a program called Innovation Happens. So expect those robotics majors at CMU to stick around after college and build the next great tech city—and some robots to boot. Speaking of robots, look for robotics to rule on the tech innovation front next year. In October 2011, Stanford researchers created a stretchable, transparent skinlike sensor that they say, according to ZDNet, “could be used in making touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs or robots, for various medical applications such as pressure-sensitive bandages or in touch screens on computers.” A new automobile is being tested with robotics that have sensors that signal the blind. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, indeed. It’s going to be a very techy year.