It’s hard to believe that 2013 is already under way. Last year, the tech sector saw some amazing innovation — the rise of Pinterest, the sale of Instagram to Facebook for $1 billion, and historic highs in Internet ad revenue. This year, already-strong product and business models are positioned to grow even more.
A key theme that consulting giant Deloitte highlights is the concept of “social reeingineering by design.” In other words — “how work gets done is no longer constrained by 19th century platforms.”
These last few years have introduced new business models and monetization strategies — like affiliate marketing, online subscriptions, pay-per-click. These techniques have evolved into the foundations for commerce on the Internet. They’ve also opened doors to even more creative business strategies. Here’s what to expect in 2013.
1. Peer-to-Peer Business Models
“In the 20th century, consumer goods became key focal points for every Western economy,” wrote Dan Martell for the Clarity blog. “From televisions to cell phones, computers, luxury cars, entertainment, travel, and leisure, the concept of private ownership — especially in the United States — was entwined with prosperity.”
Now, that perspective is changing. People are pursuing options for cost-effective and sustainable living. They’re sharing instead of owning.
“Thanks in part to refined high-tech platforms, close-knit social media communities, and the economic downturn, peer-to-peer markets are emerging in key sectors including travel (AirBnB), transportation (Getaround, Relay Rides, Zipcar, Zimride), fashion (Rent the Runway, 99Dresses), skills (TaskRabbit, Zaarly), and even kids’ clothing (thredUP),” Martell said.
And it’s not just the consumer goods industry. Everyday consumers are participating in crowdfunding programs like Kickstarter, peer lending networks like Prosper, and shared office space environments.
2. Niche Social Networks
Phase one of social media was the rise of general networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Then came B2B platform LinkedIn and intellectual discussion platform Quora. Over the next year, social media initiatives will continue to become more niche.
“The idea of appealing to a specific core audience isn’t exactly new,” wrote Christian Arno for SearchEngineWatch. “Forums, message boards, and online communities — the forerunners to social media sites as we know them today — have brought people with shared interests together for years.”
But these social networks aren’t looking to grow to the scale of Facebook and Twitter.
“They’re not necessarily looking to compete with the big boys on their own terms, but to win their own dedicated and highly specific sets of followers,” wrote Arno.
One example is HealthTap, an online platform that connects patients with doctors to address common medical questions. Another example is Doximity, a HIPAA-compliant professional network for doctors to share information about their patients.
3. Education 2.0
Student debt in the United States has now surpassed $1 trillion, and it is becoming increasingly clearer that continued education is becoming increasingly out of reach. With a national unemployment rate close to 8 percent and a widespread shortage of talent, the demand for skill-building remains strong.
That’s why alternative education programs are emerging through free or low cost models. Now, you can learn valuable skills in data, computer programming, finance, and business without the price tag of a major university.
These platforms are even combining free education with profitability. Udemy, for instance, works with employers to recruit top-performing students in exchange for a referral fee. Online platform Lynda.com charges students a monthly fee in exchange for unlimited access to professional lectures. General Assembly hosts expert-led classes, lectures, and development workshops in exchange for an attendance fees.
Through new health platforms, people are able to get smarter for less — in return, these education providers are still able to make a profit. Will 2013 be the year that these ventures begin to scale?
What core tech trends do you think should also be on this list? Which are your favorite? This year is going to be an exciting one, and businesses on the Internet are starting to mature. And still, opportunities are boundless.