From artificial intelligence and augmented reality to online gambling, we take a look at some of the ways the ever-evolving digital landscape is changing the way we work, play and live.

 

Online gaming

As with so many things digital, the shift to mobile devices is still the biggest factor in the gaming industry too – and not just in the developed world. Millions of people who can’t afford a dedicated PC or laptop can still use ever more affordable smartphones to access content online – and one of our favorite parts of the online realm are the games we can play there!

Huge success stories, like the mobile versions of the massively successful Fortnite by Epic Games – which raked in a cool $15 million in its first month – are a testament to their popularity. We can expect to see more mobile versions of popular titles crop up in the future.

Another interesting aspect is the relationship between cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the online gambling space – where ease and speed of transfers, secure transactions and anonymity are a perfect match. The numbers of online casino fans who like the option to play Bitcoin Baccarat, Roulette, and other classic games in their favorite cryptocurrency are steadily on the rise.

Augmented reality games are another area to keep a virtual eye on – with titles like Zombies Everywhere and laser tag MMO Father.io set for release later in 2019.

 

Cyber security

The now-infamous 2017 WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm (and aren’t those a scary combination of words!) affected some 150 countries and 200,000 computers – from small businesses to hospitals and corporate giants like FedEx. And while companies had been warned about the need for better ransomware protection, WannaCry was a major wakeup call. These kinds of attacks can be particularly devastating for small businesses who depend on their data and IT systems for their very survival. If you own an SME, then the time to act is now. You can help protect yourself by making sure your employees are educated on potentially risky behaviors, moving to cloud-based solutions, using measures such as a VPN, or getting some expert advice from a consultant if you feel out of your depth.

 

Social media and digital marketing for SMEs

With Twitter actively deleting millions of suspicious accounts, and Facebook and Instagram shifting their algorithms away from businesses and brands in favor of more personal content (in an effort to draw back users who have become disengaged) the already tricky world of social media marketing has become an even harder nut to crack.

ROI from social media advertising has never been particularly attractive, especially for small businesses – and now many groups, particularly millennials, are abandoning the social media giants altogether or making use of adblockers when they do browse them. If your brand or business wants to remain relevant, you’re going to need to change too. It’s also important to keep in mind that most social media users have become pretty good at scrolling right past content that is clearly meant to be selling them something without batting an eye.

So if paid ad content doesn’t work anymore, and the platforms you’re familiar with are losing their popularity anyway – what’s the solution? Getting back to creating engaging content that targets the people who’re actually interested in what you have to say. You could even create your own kind of social media network – such as a forum on your website where you can offer advice and make use of your expertise. A Facebook or Reddit group dedicated to a particular niche or your industry as a whole, rather than just your brand, might also be a better approach. Essentially, the future of social media marketing is about creating a space where interested parties can come to you.

 

Bots and AI

You’ve probably ‘met’ quite a few bots already as you browse around the net – but as AI improves and we come to rely more on services like Cortana, Google Home and Amazon Echo, we can expect these artificial humans to crop up more and more.

And while one of the biggest and most natural concerns around automated work processes and AI are the inevitable job losses associated with them, there are opportunities to be had too. For small businesses with a limited number of staff trying to take on a global 24/7 market, for example, a friendly bot that can help out a potential customer from overseas as 3 in the morning can make a big difference. As with all technologies, it’s about how we use them. If we use them to free up time and resources so humans can get on with what they do best, bots and AI could be a great asset.