Here are the first set of trends for 2016:
- The media will have a good year. Some media outlets still haven’t figured out how to build a sustainable business model from paywalls, online ads, and native advertising (aka clickbait). But 2016 will be a good year financially with billions to be spent on political ads from the candidates and their Super PACs. Unfortunately, the good times won’t continue into 2017. Some interesting media startups, trying to bring back long-form, thoughtful coverage of news will get attention from other media sites, but will find it hard to build a sustainable business in an era that favors quick celebrity news.
- Drug pricing will get a lot of attention. Concern about out-of-control drug pricing began in 2015, when Martin Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals increased the price of a 62-year-old drug from $13.50 a pill to $750. Drug pricing will continue generate outrage and ongoing media and political attention in 2016. The impact of more scrutiny and the possibility of new pricing regulations may make it more difficult for pharma companies, including virtual biotechs, to raise funds to invest in drug discovery. This may cause investors to sell, and may burst the biotech bubble that industry followers have been predicting.
- Tech turns into Towers of Babel. The concept behind the Internet of Things is that all devices will be networked-enabled and be able to communicate with each other to provide us with more convenience and data to help us make better decisions. The reality is that competing vendors and proprietary platforms have set up a tech version of the Tower of Babel, and that may be a real problem for companies looking to take advantage of IoT.
- The rise of Artificial Intelligence. Don’t worry – despite concerns from Elon Musk and other tech influencers as well as the plot points in various Hollywood movies in 2015 – self-aware AI robots aren’t going to take over humans in 2015. But the ways we can use AI and machine learning will increase in 2016, helping us make better business, personal and health decisions and helping to address security concerns.
- Whither unicorns and their business models? Unicorns – startups valued at upwards of $1 billion – were big in 2015. Expect coverage in 2016 that questions whether the unicorn bubble will burst. This will be true not just of privately held startups but also of publicly held companies (that represent the next stage of unicorn development) that fail to fully monetize their businesses. Twitter and Yahoo! – that means you and other social media platforms that fail to live up to financial expectations.
Instead of updating TrendWatch once a year, we plan to look at trends twice in 2016. To subscribe to our TrendWatch newsletter, please email us at TrendWatch [at] birnbachcom.com.