Disruptive Search Forces in 2015 and Beyond

This time of the year we see all sorts of prognostications and forecasts for search in 2015, as we look back on the news and events that influenced the search industry in 2014. There is one particular forward-looking presentation that I look forward to each year. Specifically, the Internet Trends document as published by KPCB and presented by Mary Meeker at the Internet Trends Code Conference.

The research Meeker presents is substantive and there are many different perspectives that can be layered over her insights on inflection points and re-imagining of things. I like to consider how Meeker’s insights can potentially impact what digital marketers think of search for years to come. Today, I’d like to share my thoughts with you about how search will change tomorrow and beyond, based on two premises from Internet Trends 2014.

Educated Change

According to Meeker, there are two inflection points that will be key economic drivers that will force societal shifts in the years to come. The first industry undergoing significant change is education. Make no mistake about it – people care about education. Eight in 10 Americans say education issues are extremely and/or very important to them.

With digital delivery advances, personalized education is ramping up in a way that can forever change our education systems. We know now that people learn in very different ways at dissimilar rates, and the Internet offers many cost-effective, personalized options at all educations levels. Additionally, distributive start-up costs for education are declining and direct-to-consumer courses allow education products to receive rapid mass adoption.

This is a tipping point; how do we determine what educational methods and courses are right for each individual and scale these educational systems out to meet these needs of the masses?

Search will play a big role here. I believe our educational transitions will be facilitated by job searches for higher and continuing education curriculums, since we will need ongoing education to continually reeducate the workforce as efficiently as we upgrade an app on a mobile device if we are to keep our economy fluid.

Search will also help drive lowering costs for higher education, as well as level the playing field for pre-kindergarten opportunities. User-generated content (UGC) in the form of reviews and author-based algorithms will be essential search functions will help nudge the educational evolution forward. These are exciting times for search engines to advance from serving up answers and historically personalized results, to deliver individualized results in cadence with anticipated educational needs.

Healthy Growth Chart

Health care is the second industry that is realizing an inflection point soon. To get there, digital technology must enable changes in health care processes that have relied on antiquated documentation structures. To a certain extent, the Affordable Care Act leverages financial penalties to help encourage change and help advance electronic health care documentation by 2017. Voice data must be digitized and searchable in order to help make these changes scalable across health care facilities.

Granted, digital security rigors and privacy concerns can affect the pace of change in the health care industry. Yet we are on the cusp of the consumerization of our health care systems. More than 52 percent of consumers want access to tools and websites to review patients’ rankings of with doctors and hospitals. Four-star ratings will not fit the health care system when it comes to making good health care decisions. Advances in search capabilities will help make these types of consumer-empowered health care practices more tenable.

Speaking of UGC, wearable technologies are rendering health-oriented algorithms awash with data. The medical field has been using implants for decades. Searching for blood markers and vital cues from nanobots that trigger doses of individualized medications is becoming a working reality. Aggregating content created from the growth of wearable tech requires new search algorithms to help take us beyond treating existing illnesses into more predictive capabilities.

Wristables, hearables, bendables, energizables, sensibles, and wrappables are all the rage right now. Ultimately, search engines will leverage localized data emitted from wearable technologies for all types of health alerts that go far beyond setting algorithmic thresholds for flu outbreaks. Search is no longer temporal on a regionalized and personalized basis; it’s localized and individualized.

These are very exciting times, especially when we consider how search can be a disruptive force in health care, which is precisely how billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong intends to take on cancer by creating unconventional treatments, if not eventual cures.

Technology is the main weapon Dr. Soon-Shiong is deploying against cancer. Algorithmic search capabilities help root out commonality of tumor genome sequences in hopes of revealing the molecular secrets to cancer. In order to work, search must help isolate on the specific genetic mutation that prevents cancer cells from dying a natural death. Soon-Shiong’s aspires to provide patients with such details regardless of where tumors are found in the body, in order to provide individualized genetic treatment of even inoperable tumors.

In Summary

Right now digital marketers are concerning themselves with ways to move away from success metrics rooted in keyword rankings of search results. We seek to build and implement systems that support content agnostic and adaptive engagement metrics that help predict future consumer behaviors. When we consider the disruptive force that search is playing in the health care and education systems, it’s not such a gigantic step for us to leverage it to disrupt how we measure search campaign successes 2015.

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