I've been lucky: From marketing Shazam to being part of the team that launched iTunes and Google Play in Europe, I’ve worked with some of the world’s most influential brands on some of the most exciting innovations in recent history.
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As a result, people often ask me: What do you think is the next technological revolution? While I’m sure there are many yet to come, there’s one in particular that stands out: predictive technology. The fact is, technology has evolved to the point where we want, even expect it to read our minds -- anticipating what we need often before we even know we need it.
And the new crop of predictive apps on the horizon is designed to do just that.
What’s critical to the success of predictive apps is their ability to be context-aware, blending technology with contextual intelligence, to stay a step ahead of what we need to work, live and play better. To make these apps truly useful, their creators need to take a sophisticated, cutting-edge back end and offer the app via simple front-end design. Done right, these apps will give us back time that otherwise would have been spent searching for and retrieving data, documents, services and information. And oh, what we could do with that extra hour or day or week each year!
Here are five ways that I believe we’ll see predictive technology change our lives for the better.
1. Predicting what we need wherever we are
Where can I find a nice bottle of wine before meeting my friends nearby? What’s the traffic like on the way to the restaurant? Wouldn’t it be great to have an Uber waiting for me after my event, so I don’t have to try to hail a cab? Once an app knows where you are or even where you’re going, it should be able to predict a host of related activities from nearby places.
That way, you can purchase the products you need, or find alternate routes to avoid traffic or set up that car you’d like to have waiting for you -- before you've even requested it. Apps like Google Now and Snips are already starting to make this a reality.
2. Predicting how we can save more money
Who doesn’t love to save money? Picture an app that monitors a light bulb -- and that light bulb stops working. Had the app anticipated the light bulb's burnout, it could instantly look at replacement options available, search for the best value and order it -- in time to replace the faulty bulb without any downtime. Or, consider an app like Nest or Hive, which learns your energy needs and adapts to your lifestyle, adjusting your home energy usage -- and therefore, your monthly bill -- automatically.
Now, take that idea, and picture it on a much larger scale. Corporate real estate currently under construction is already starting to integrate this kind of “smart” technology -- and predicting cost savings at a much higher level. Soon, consumers will have these tools, too.
3. Predicting how -- and when -- we need our data
When it comes to data, we’re drowning. Information is being created and growing in size exponentially every day -- whether that means email, texts, tasks, calendar invites, social media or multimedia. New tools add functionality and productivity, but also more data -- from Hipchat, to Slack, to Dropbox and more. With all this digital noise, it’s amazing that anyone has time to think anymore.
According to McKinsey Global Institute, the average worker spends 28 percent of the work week managing emails and related software alone. This is where predictive apps could have a major impact -- putting all that data into context, then filtering and prioritizing it and delivering it only according to your preferences as to when and where.
Contextual filters like this were a key driver in the creation of the cleverly streamlined Apple Watch interface. And other companies are also making this a reality. They include Google Inbox, which adds context to sort and prioritize your emails; and my own current project Gluru, which functions as a predictive file explorer to search and retrieve relevant data across multiple sources -- anticipating and learning what you need each day.
4. Predicting our entertainment needs
Music discovery has always been a personal thing. Recommendations for new music usually come from a combination of friends, family, personal experiences media and more. Recently, services such as Spotify and iTunes have tried to predict what you like, recommending music playlists based on a combination of history, interests and similar artists/music.
The only problem is that one’s music taste shifts and changes constantly. Now, imagine waking up in the morning and having your ideal playlist set up based, yes, on your music preferences -- but also on your mood, or the weather. This is the direction in which these services are headed.
5. Predicting our health needs
Taking care of ourselves, unfortunately, is not always our top priority. As if that nagging voice inside our heads were not enough, technology that can predict--– and act on -- our health care needs may very well be the answer. Consider this: You’re walking down the road and receive a notification alerting you that something is up with your body. The alert not only tells you what may happen and what to do, but where to go to treat the issue, if further action is needed.
Smart wearables like Fitbit and Nike Fuel Band are starting to drive this trend, enabling the monitoring of activity and athletic performance, with built-in sensors and alerts. This could be a real lifesaver -- whether to stay ahead of potential illnesses, or help with something as simple as detecting the possibility of a pulled muscle before it happens.
Predictive context is more than just a concept. We’re already starting to see the first of these apps hit the market, and it’s only a matter of time before they become more sophisticated and prevalent. The potential applications of this technological underpinning are limitless. I’m sure there are many more ways predictive context will shape our lives moving forward. What’s your prediction?