Predicting 2011, How’d we do?

Early in 2011, I create a presentation to talk about trends to watch for in the New Year. While it is easy to make predictions and never revisit them, it’s more honest to look back where one is right and wrong.

The presentation started with a list of new things for 2010, it’s hard to believe that none of these things were well known in 2010 and many of them didn’t even exist:

  • Original iPad
  • Windows 7 phone and Droid X
  • Mobile fundraising
  • Wikileaks
  • Facebook Places
  • 3D: TVs, movies games
  • Daily deals: groupon, living social


And now on to the predictions.

1. The mobile channel will continue to increase — TRUE
Ok this one was a softball. Mobile had no where to go but up, especially with the emergence of decent Android powered phones and Windows 7 in the first quarter of 2011.

Mobile really started to pick up in the 4th quarter of 2010 when smartphones outsold PC’s for the first time ever.

With all these new devices, it means more and more are people engaging with your brand on their mobile devices. In June, Flurry published a report showing that people now spend more time browsing the internet on mobile devices than on PCs.

It would have been interesting to see average session times as well. It seems safe to guess that while people are spending more time in mobile, each individual session is shorter. This means you have an even shorter time to get people to interact.

Bottom line: if you had 8 seconds to make an impression on a PC, you might have 2 or 3 on a mobile device. Users must be able to complete an action in 30 seconds or less.

2. Tablets will become an important “third screen” —TRUE

Again, I didn’t really climb out on a limb here. To me, the most interesting thing about this segment is how Apple continues to dominate. According to this article, we could see the dominance stretch in 2015!

Now three years isn’t long for many folks, but in the tech industry it’s an eternity. If Apple can maintain 50+% of the tablet market over that time, we could be seeing the kind of consumer created monopoly Microsoft has with Windows in the PC market.

This is neither good nor bad news for the nonprofit sector. But if I was an IT professional considering what tablets to buy for enterprise use, it would be hard to not go with an iPad, despite the higher price.

3. Cash registers will go away — FALSE

Well this one was wrong. I was thinking technology like Square would capture an increased market share among smaller sellers.

We’re probably 5 years away from almost all retail stores moving away from stationary cash registers and allowing people to check out with any associate from a handheld device.

This is important for nonprofits because right now the sight of a volunteer collecting donation on a handheld device at an event would cause trepidation. When you pay for a gallon of milk that way, donors will be more willing to give this way.

4. QR codes will go mainstream — FALSE

Perhaps this was more a geeky hope than a prediction. I think QR codes hold a lot of promise in the retail space where coupons can be better tracked. It should be possible to offer $1 off for the regular coupon and $1.50 if you scan a QR code to get a digital coupon.

Since the QR code could have more personal data associated with it and could even collect location data at purchase time, manufacturers should be willing to give a deeper discount.

This is another area where I believe large adoption in the retail space will be necessary for any adoption in the ministry space.

5. Near Field Communication will not go mainstream — TRUE

Another winner here, in the second quarter last year I was afraid I was going to be wrong on this one. A few Andriod phones have the chip, but this still hasn’t broken into regular use.

I shouldn’t take credit though, I heard Nick Nayfack of Mobile Cause talking about this and he made the excellent point that it also takes point of sale systems that take advantage of NFC to drive adoption. A bit of a chicken and egg problem.

NFC works if your phone has a small radio and the cash register has a similar radio. The cash register and your phone communicate transaction information by being in proximity. These are the same next generation of the “touch to pay” chips in many credit cards.

Nick pointed out that large retailers point of sale systems are huge capitol investments. Think about your local Wal-Mart and how many registers there are, now multiply that by every Wal-Mart in the country and you get a sense of how big an investment a new point of sale system is.

I would guess some retailers will include NFC in their terminals in their next system upgrade, but not all. This could be another 5-10 years away.

6. Location based deals will come to the forefront — MAYBE YES, MAYBE NO

This is another one that didn’t’ really happen. GroupOn did have an IPO, but that didn’t really go so well. My though here was that as more and more people check in, the resulting location data has significant value for nonprofits.

I’m not sure why this would be valuable, but the ability to know where donors shop, hang out, etc. has to be able to improve how we communicate with them.

I also understand the creepy factor here. It is an emerging ethical space that ministries are going to have to deal with.

7. Thinking on social media will move from “direct response” to “constituent service”

This was more suggestion than trend. Everything I was seeing and hearing pointed to the fact that normal direct response measures for social media would cause organizations to under invest. I still believe this to be true.

Succeeding in social media means cultivating relationships, not transactions. The first step to properly invest in social media is to develop metrics that properly measure the strength of the relationships you are creating.

Finally I included a list of actions for 2011. For many ministries this is a good to-do list for 2012:

  • Create a mobile website
  • Consider where you can play in the mobile app space, that can mean providing content to an existing app
  • Explore Social CRM capabilities of current databases
  • Create donor service metrics to judge social media


Looking back I’m pleased with my predictions, now it’s your turn. Leave a comment with your biggest trend for 2012. And to encourage a comment or two, I’ll put some skin in the game. For every comment posted I will donate $5 to the charity of choice of the boldest prediction.

So if we get 20 comments, I’ll pick the prediction I think is boldest and donate $100 to that person’s charity of choice. How do I define bold? Somewhere on the edge of probable but certainly possible. Deadline is January 10th, so get on it.