What will define this year in digital business? 2016, I believe, will be a year where the digital trends and advances from the previous few years come to a head. From virtual reality to the internet of things to smarter, data-driven marketing automation, digital is going to have a very big year and the digital economy is going to dramatically shape all of our lives. Here are my 5 defining points for the state of digital economy in 2016...

More & More Digital Momentum & Winner Takes ALL
At this point, pointing to Netflix vs. Blockbuster or Uber vs. Traditional Taxis is a big digital business cliche. The point has been made: digital change is inevitable, survival is not. 2016 will be a year in which this point is further hammered home for businesses of all shapes and sizes. For those who have been slow to react to the digital threat, 2016 will be the last call. On a related note, the idea of there being strong #2 and #3 players seems to not be the case in a number of digital segments that utilize the network effect. Who is Number 2 to Facebook, LinkedIn, AirBnB, Google, and Amazon? Increasingly, the answer is no one.

Digital Business & Invisible Technology
Technology must always be deployed to serve the specific needs of customers, technology should not exist for its own sake no matter how flashy or impressive. 2016 is the year where digital businesses will truly learn the importance of streamlined customer centricity, of using digital technology in a pointed way to serve customers in the most complete way possible. 2016 will not be a year of overly-complex solutionism technology, this isn’t something jaded digital customers want. Rather, digital customers demand effective, seamless, and efficient digital service of their needs. In 2016, the more invisible the technology is the better.

Mobile’s Rise to Dominance
2016 will be a year in which mobile’s dominance is cemented and it’s easy to see why. Over a year ago mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic as the dominate way in which consumers shop online, last spring Google changed its indexing algorithms to strongly increase weight on mobile optimization, and by 2018 mCommerce will be a $625 billion market place. There are eCommerce powerhouses being built entirely for app & mobile experience (Wish being my current favorite). This year, an innovative mobile strategy is a categorical business imperative.

Full Digital Permeation
The changing of the generational guard (there are now more millennials in the work force than baby boomers) coupled with digital advances has led to a full digital permeation in all parts of business both internal and external. What this means is, technology is no longer the responsibility of a distinct role or department but rather a part of everyone’s job. 2016 is the year in which the whole team must engage in digital innovation whether that is client facing or internal.

360° View of the Customer and Marketing Automation
2016 is set to be a very big year for marketing automation. The technological tools are now proliferating which gather data around customer’s preferences and can unite that customer data across platforms. The goal is a 360 ° view of the customer, a united customer experience, and accurate marketing automation. Email, social, and paid media communication journeys based upon customer actions rather than defined campaigns. Those able to harness this technology in 2016 will have a dominant marketing edge.

So, go forth and have a digitally successful 2016! Happy New Year!