This is the second-part of our look back at the trends for 2020 that we predicted last year. (The first part is available here.) We think it's important to look at what we got right and what we got wrong so that we can improve our process in time to make predictions for 2021. (There were, of course, plenty of trends that we completely missed, and we look at how to address any foreseeable trends that we did not see -- though to be fair to us, a lot happened this year that few actually predicted.)
Again, we're grading how we did with our second set of trends.
1. Too many podcasts eventually will overwhelm listeners. We said that “Probably by 2021, we will have reached podcast saturation and there will be a backlash, both from advertisers and from listeners so that the proliferation of new podcasts will slow down, if not actually decrease.” We certainly didn’t reach the saturation point in 2020; as far as we can tell, the number of listeners has not declined this year. That said, we think listeners are overwhelmed by choices. Grade: C+.
2. The expectations of well-design products will include connectivity and voice control. We think that consumers do expect Bluetooth connectivity and voice control but we’re not seeing those capabilities built-in in as many items as we’d like…for example, you can’t navigate your PC like the crew on “Star Trek” was able to. At least not yet. Grade: C.
3. The trade-off between convenience and data collection will get recognition. This trend did not get much attention in 2020. Grade: C-.
4. There will be a lot of media space allocated to covering outer space. We overshot this. There was some but not as much coverage as we expected. Grade: C-.
5. 5G and facial recognition will get lots of attention. We got this correct but there wasn’t much doubt about that. Grade: A.
6. Artificial Intelligence will be in everything. We said, “AI has reached a tipping point and will be built in to many things that weren’t possible just a few years ago.” We think that was right. Grade: A.
7. AI will affect in-store retail. We said that “AI will change how stores stock shelves because they will have better customer intelligence about how customers shop and what they want,” but we don’t know if that was true in 2020, due to the pandemic, which hurt retail, especially the kind requiring customers to enter stores. We stand by this trend but we may not see significant movement until 2022. Grade: C-.
8. Software is the once and future king. We said that although “hardware and gadgets are always going to be important … it’s the software that will add new features that improve the things we already have.” Grade: A.
9. Drones will experience significant growth in B2B applications. Drones did not get as much attention as we thought in 2020 so we feel this trend may take place by 2021 or 2022. Grade: C-.
10. From customer service to mental health and beyond, chatbots will be there to help us. This did not get the attention, and thus make the impact we expected in 2020. Any progress may have been behind-the-scenes. Grade: D.
We're not too thrilled with some of the C-s and the D but we're trying to hold ourselves accountable so we did not give ourselves an A+ this year for any trend, and tried to tamp down any sense of grade inflation.
We have more trends to evaluate. Check back later this week for our continued look back at trends that did or did not have an impact in 2020