Picture courtesy of: FastCo Design

2016, The Year We See Hoverboards-as-a-Service?

When Re/code Senior Editor Ina Fried was asked what would be the most overhyped trend of 2016, she didn’t even hesitate, “Hoverboards-as-a-Service.” After the laughter subsided, she said that we would only see more “things” join the Internet of Things in the months ahead.

Eastwick’s very own, Scott Thornburg, kicked off the Public Relations Society of America Silicon Valley Chapter’s annual Media Predicts event by introducing Fried and the rest of the panel:

· Scott Budman, Tech and Business Reporter, NBC News (Moderator)

· Lauren Goode, Senior Technology Editor, The Verge

· David Hamilton, Technology Editor, AP

· Kashmir Hill, Senior Editor, Fusion

· Laura Mandaro, Managing Editor, USA Today

· Adam Satariano, Technology Reporter, Bloomberg

Although several trends were shared that evening, the three most impactful in 2016 were 1) diversity in tech, 2) social networking and 3) the Internet of Things (IoT).

Diversity In Tech

“You don’t solve diversity by just having more women. You need to have more ethnicities too. Another growing problem in Silicon Valley is ageism and people aren’t talking about it enough,” 
— Lauren Goode, Senior Technology Editor, The Verge

VentureBeat reported that 2015 was the year tech companies got serious about maternity leave. USA Today advised startups to not think of diversity as an afterthought, but instead, recognize the holistic thinking that it can bring to one’s organization. It is safe to say that there is a lot of ‘talk’ about diversity in Silicon Valley, but a whole lot less ‘walk.’ Fried referred to 2016 as the year that separates people who are talking about diversity from those who are actually doing something about it.

Eastwick partners with companies that are committed to diversity. Our CEO Barbara Bates outlined Eastwick’s successes in this area and shared our agency’s view on diversity in a recent blog post: “As strategic partners for our clients, we push the industry to see gender diversity as a business imperative, educating the media and our constituents on unconscious bias and strategies companies can take today.”
Key Takeaway: If you are a startup, make diversity a priority from the very beginning. If you are a well established company, continue to make advances in this area. Do you have a Chief Diversity Officer? Does your office have a culture of acceptance or one of isolation? As the old saying goes, put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Social Networking

“Where does social networking go in 2016? Does it isolate us or does it connect us more,” — Scott Budman, Tech and Business Reporter, NBC News, (Moderator)

Budman presented a good question, one that I often find myself asking. As a millennial who starts and ends his day on social media — I’ll admit I suffer a bit from FOMO — I am interested in seeing what 2016 holds in store for this space. In 2015 alone, Facebook introduced Instant Articles and additional privacy awareness tools, Pinterest added “buying” capabilities to its site, dozens of smaller platforms emerged and the list goes on.

A little more than a year ago, I was at a public relations conference and was rapidly live-tweeting the entire session. A dear friend and mentor of mine, Kelly Davis, addressed the audience and told everyone to, despite the fast paced world that we live in, take time and enjoy the moment.

Key Takeaway: Companies and individuals should care less about the amount of “likes” received on a post or the amount of followers someone may have and instead focus on forming personal relationships that matter. In order to successfully meet the needs of someone, you need to know them. Don’t overestimate the power of an in person conversation.

Internet of Things (IoT)

“We will never not care about privacy,” — Kashmir Hill, Senior Editor at Fusion.
 Gartner predicts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide next year. Not 6.4 million, but 6.4 billion. As technology evolves, so do cybercriminals. The ways in which they obtained personal information a year ago, even six months ago, are completely different from the tactics that they use today. Hill also mentioned that more traditional, non-tech companies will jump on the IoT bandwagon and with it, present additional security concerns.

Key Takeaway: As the line blurs between our physical and digital worlds, companies need to shift their mindset from developing a single product to providing a platform for their consumers. This platform needs to be intuitive and be able to seamlessly integrate into their day to day lives. Companies should also take extra precautions to ensure any consumer data is safe.

Looking Ahead

Hoverboard-as-a-Service or not, those companies that become more inclusive, embrace the constantly evolving world of social media and take time to understand how the IoT will affect their customers, will be the ones that thrive.

What company do you think will make it big next year? Are Apple’s best days behind it? Share your 2016 predictions with us in the comments below or on social using #EWSocial.

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