THE BLOG

Blueprint's Top Trends for 2014: Part One

01/15/2014 05:51 EST | Updated 03/17/2014 05:59 EDT

Corporate Transparency and Accountability

Social media will increase its influence over corporate behaviour, making companies more accountable for their actions.

We saw social media's influence in action when a clothing factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1,000 people. This disaster might have become lost in the crowd of many that happened in 2013 but for Tweets that showed it was a manufacturing plant for Joe Fresh, the Canadian clothing retailer owned by Loblaws.

The virtually immediate linking of a major corporate brand with the catastrophe drove Galen Weston Jr., Loblaws CEO, to step up to the microphone and account for the engineering deficiencies of a supplier's building half-way around the world. Loblaws became partially responsible for those deaths and injuries by association, and was forced to implement a major damage control campaign that included fundamentally changing how it ensures its suppliers maintain first-world standards for building codes -- and for worker health and safety. Weston could have easily protested that construction corruption in a foreign country is not his responsibility but to his credit, he dealt with the issue in a timely, accountable and compassionate way. He knew that to do otherwise would have been a disaster for the Loblaws, Joe Fresh and Weston brands.

In the past, these kinds of disasters would have to be picked up by the media in order to get any kind of public awareness traction. Reports from journalists on the ground would wend their way through the media infrastructure, with editors determining the shelf life of these kinds of stories. With social media, six degrees of separation is reduced to two: something happens, somebody tweets it and then everybody knows. No intermediaries to decide for us how long a story lasts, just our sense of outrage and compassion.

As social media continues to increase its influence as an essential part of our lives, the heightened level of transparency it creates in the corporate world will force companies to be more accountable for their actions.

Wearable Technology

Wearable technology will go mainstream and will begin to become an integral part of how we manage our everyday lives.

Is Nike still a sporting goods company or is it morphing into something else?

Wearable technology will burst into the mainstream in 2014 with Nike being one of the companies that leads the way into what is projected to be a $6 billion business by 2016. Nike's most well-known wearable tech product, the FuelBand, is a bracelet that - today - tracks how active you are based on a few simple factors. Five years from now, it will likely:

  • Give you instant access to the status of your health by monitoring your heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, blood glucose count, sleep patterns and a host of other bodily functions
  • Unlock your doors at home and the office when you approach them by having smartlocks recognize your presence
  • Allow you to receive, read and respond to emails and social media messages
  • Help you socialize and feel a sense of belonging by being connected wirelessly to others who have, for instance, a shared interest in running

With the FuelBand, and other wearable tech devices, playing such an essential role in our lives in the future, it wouldn't be surprising to see Nike out of the sporting goods business and shifting completely into lifestyle services driven by software. If this statement seems a little radical, considering how prominent and dominant Nike has been in the sporting goods industry, a transformation of this magnitude is not without precedent. When he realized that hardware in the computer age would be a commodity and likely lead to the demise of IBM, then CEO Lou Gerstner began a decade long process of shifting the company to software and services. IBM thrives to this day as a result.

Wearable tech products speak to our increasing needs for self-awareness, instant gratification and sense of belonging. They will help us sleep better, stay fitter, manage our time more effectively, maintain our health more proactively, engage with more people who share our passions. In other words, they will help us make better sense of who we are, how we are doing, what is going on and what our place is in the world.

Tomorrow

  • Cloud-based services will change how we do business
  • Breaches in online security will dramatically increase in cost and danger for those who aren't diligent

Thursday

  • Apple and Google will pull away in the race to control how we manage our lives

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