1 Information filtering - newsmastering Information filtering, competitive intelligence, Newsmastering. These are fields that will see enormous growth for both the short and the long term. This is the area in which a huge number of business and social opportunities are available. The ability to filter, aggregate, monitor and tracks the information items you are interested in will increasingly become one of the most valued services of all.
This is a natural. With the increase of information sources and quantity of "interesting" information items one could place her eyes on, it becomes more and more valuable the ability to focus only on what is most relevant to you, without being drowned into the ocean of news pushed at you each and every minute.
2 Personal Search
Search remains one of the areas that are also most subject to change and innovation as it fully belongs to the above mentioned "information filtering" category. Future advances of search tools positively rely on providing us with increased control on how results are calculated, served and displayed.
One metric fits all doesn't really serve our purpose anymore, while allowing individual users to skew and adjust search variables as well as affecting with their behaviour such general statistics can increase our search abilities and provide also co-intelligent solutions and metrics that search engines may leverage for their own results.
Expect major advances from all the three major search engines as well as completely new search solutions that while leveraging the major three may provide significantly greater usability and performance in specific directions.
Searching more and better beyond text-based content will also be an area of major growth. Image and audio search engines will see major new announcements and launches in the coming 12 months.
This is the year that video on the web will become very popular. Tons of new online video services, tools, portable media devices, and new talent will rapidly appear on the Internet scene. All the ingredients that would allow small and medium-sized online publishers to adopt and leverage video publishing are now in place. The only challenge remains for most to find the extra talent and time to make this possible.
2006 should see the launch of Brightcove and of some other major new brands in this space.
Those who have long discarded the opportunity of making archival television content (including ads) available commercially on-demand will have an answer to their doubts. In my humble view, archival content will be the foundation on which traditional TV networks and large stations will be able to fund the new television paradigm they will need to create to remain profitable in the future.
Video will be the key evangelist for broadband. Once you start understanding the amazing number of opportunities that web-based video creates it is second nature to understand how critical broadband and its wide adoption are to support the realization of those. And so broadband adoption will grow rapidly, along with new forms of interconnectivity based on new powerful standards like Wi-Bro and xMax.
It is not impossible to envision the potential emergence of mini self-sufficient P2P networks outside of the main Internet enabled by these new lower-cost transmission technologies and data distribution protocols.
5 P2P - Peer media
Peer media will also be ground for rapid growth as new P2P tools will start to provide the ability not only to share and download content but also to edit, remix, mashup, select, and compile content in new valuable formats and styles.
Personal Media Aggregators, branded and distributed to specific communities of interest will provide the means to share, collect, edit and republish content both within that network as well as to other related ones. While newspapers and magazines have been the first adopters of these future content delivery and distribution containers, other markets as commercial music, sports and even politics will find great marketing and communication value in them.
Key benefits will be in the ability to leverage these new media tools to collect valuable feedback and customer feedback, as well as to enable content production and contribution from users themselves. Personal media aggregators and similar delivery mechanisms also offer a yet untapped strong viral marketing potential which could provide multiple benefits to both original content sources as well as to small independent publishers. Furthermore personal media aggregators would also be powerful conversation enablers, and strategic building blocks to the fast creation of vertical communities.
Podcasting will keep growing at a fast rate and it will provide lots of interesting and valuable content to all those connected. A killer tool will become available that will allow podcasts to be easily annotated, referenced and automatically transcribed into text at the click of a button. Also the number of search engines and tools enabling search within the audio portion of any podcast will see major growth.
7 Grassroots Participation
The ability to leverage the willingness of hundreds of thousands of individuals to contribute, sing, perform, post, edit, filter, share and select content and ideas that are already out there is probably the greatest business opportunity thread to be surfed next.
8 RSS Tracking and Measurement
After many failed, poor and lame attempts at taming the RSS tracking and personalization beast I think that this coming year you will see existing services refine and optimize their services and new large players enter this fast-growing market space.
9 Web Metrics
As Google has already entered this market with a free offering (not without limitations and initial restraints) you shall see Microsoft following suit and likely extending Google's own offering while Yahoo, silent on this front so far, could likely be reserving us the greatest surprise of all while leveraging its community ties.
10 Online Collaboration
Online collaboration remains very hot and also here we will see a further increase in new tools entering the market. At this point there exist clearly multiple layers of collaboration and conferencing tools and services that target all potential customers in the three major groups: individuals/professionals, SOHO, medium and large-sized organizations. While the marketplace for web conferencing serving large organizations has been there for a few years now, there is yet no established leader outside of WebEx, and while the number of competitors has grown rapidly there is no clear and established leader in terms of functionality, ease-of-use and features. Last but not least it seems to me that such enterprise directed technologies have still wide margins of improvement in terms of both usability and functionality and this applies to 95% of competing tools in this space. For this market sector (big companies) Macromedia Breeze remains the technology to beat.
More attention will be also growing around the non-technological issues surrounding effective online collaboration, virtual teamwork, business cooperation and related fields. As it is in fact gradually emerging from initial research studies, it is not so much the level of sophistication of the technologies utilized that makes for effective online collaboration in business, but it is rather the ability to redefine the rules of teaming and business cooperation in ways that enable team-members to make best use of these technologies that is critical for the market success of such collaboration tools.
PowerPoint may be in for some surprise. Given the limited evolution of Microsoft-based presentation solutions and the wide adoption of Flash as an effective format for presentation distribution, it appears as if the presentation market is indeed open to new alternative solutions that may provide greater ease of use and more design "intelligence" than PowerPoint has been able to provide in the last decade. Given also the fast growth and development of new podcasting and video tools, it is likely that a new breed of software and services will further enable small independent publishers in the creation of presentations that integrate video, audio, images in a seamless, TV-like fashion.
12 Blog Advertising
Advertising on blogs will grow rapidly in the immediate future. Unfortunately the market still lacks effective tools and services that allow self-servicing of ads on blogs. Blogads, the undisputed market leader has long been lagging behind the need to provide much broader stats ad information on its inventory of blogs, easier ways for advertisers and identify relevant blogs for their campaigns, and prviding end publishers with an effective and fully functional user interface. That makes me think that if there is someone awake out there, with enough money and resources to match and improve upon Blogads clever idea, it would find thousands of good blogs and advertisers ready to support it.