I’ve been thinking there is a “user stack” that guides our digital lives, as consumers of Internet technology, because we touch the online world at several levels of services and applications.
In 1994, when the Internet started to infiltrate our lives, all you needed was a browser to access websites, and an email to reach people. That was the user stack then.
And it stayed that way for a good 10 years, until the Social Web arrived in 2004 and got us into sharing content, tweeting, posting photos and having spontaneous online discussions with friends and strangers. It was mostly about self-expression.
Fast forward to 2014, another 10 years later. Email, browsing and being social are table stakes, and hardly give a real advantage to any Internet user.
Today, the user stack of the past 20 years is about to become much more complicated, because the bar is raised on being digitally savvy.
There are five new areas of required user competency, going forward:
1. Consumer Cloud
The Cloud is not just for enterprise SaaS solutions. Cloud services are also for consumers. Cloud storage and peer-to-peer decentralized applications are some example, but there is a flurry of new services that will be enabled by a direct connection to cloud-based applications, and that controlled by our smartphones, tablets or personal computers.
We’re going to get more Internet-connected to our bodies and minds. It will happen via our smartphones or other sensors, and it will be used for healthcare, or health wellness purposes.
3. Smartification of Things
Small, medium and big things are getting connected to the Internet and starting to fill our surroundings. Whether it’s in a room at home or at the office, a car, retail store, or a public space; smart things are talking back to us and to our smartphones and computers.
Online payments were just precursors to the upcoming onslaught of cryptocurrency-enabled services and wallets. Banking is being un-banked. And Bitcoin and blockchain-related services and transactions are emerging.
5. Personal Robotics
If you have never flown a drone yet, that’s OK. Most current models aren’t easy to fly and have limited functionality. But there is an emerging generation of drones and robotics software that will be a lot easier to use for entertainment and business purposes. The Sphero ball is just one example.
What is common to these 5 areas is:
- they are fairly new and embryonic
- the leading players are still emerging
- as users, we need to learn how to use them (hint: it’s not straightforward yet)
- big companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter are vying to occupy pieces of that stack
- venture capital is pouring into these areas
So, as users, let’s get more familiarized with these new stack options.
They are the new “Internet user stack” layers.