Three Tech Trends to Watch in 2014

With the new year nearly upon us, it’s time for everyone to release their annual lists and make predictions for the year to come.

I’ll throw my hat in the ring with the three key trends that I’ll be keeping a close eye on in 2014.


1. Bitcoin the currency becomes Bitcoin the platform

Mainstream media attention has focused on Bitcoin as a virtual currency: first with its incredible rally, and more recently with the sharp tumble of Bitcoin’s value after Chinese regulators moved to restrict its usage. However, in 2014 I think we’ll see more development of Bitcoin as a platform or protocol.  

Bitcoin offers a solid, unalterable framework for Proof of Ownership that can be used in other applications beyond currency…for example, wills, escrow, crowdfunding payments, digital wallets, voting, and more. We’ve already seen few apps leverage Bitcoin, such as Proof of Existence that uses the Bitcoin network as an ultra-secure notary service.

In 2014, I believe that Bitcoin has the potential to disrupt traditional institutions that we rely on for trust-related services, such as banks and registrars. For example, Bitcoin can be the foundation for a wire escrow that goes through when an arbiter agrees that a seller has sent the goods to the buyer. 


2. Consumerization of healthcare

Over the past five years, we’ve seen consumerization disrupt business, education, legal and numerous other fields. While healthcare has been one of the more conservative sectors and slower to adopt these consumerization trends, I believe it’s primed for dramatic changes. Technical innovation can lower the cost of care, unlock data for better collaboration, and in some cases, literally mean the difference between life and death. 

In particular, I’ll be looking for consumerization trends to become integrated into the daily routine of the healthcare professional in order to connect practitioners and patients, as well as practitioners and other practitioners. The right collaborative tools will bring together professionals, as well as patients, to generate faster and more effective diagnoses. Solutions will include platforms that enable the secure sharing of medical records, as well as large public knowledge-bases that can crowdsource symptom diagnosis and treatment.


3. Mobile SaaS products will make greater inroads into desktop SaaS

Lower cost of ownership and ease of implementation were the two key growth drivers for the first generation of vertical SaaS companies. Now, mobile will be the most important factor for the next generation of SaaS.

As I wrote some time go, with mobile SaaS, anybody with a smartphone now has access to software. Compare those penetration rates to traditional desktop software that was limited by the number of computers in an office. In addition, mobile opens up completely new use cases for SaaS and can target those professionals who don’t find themselves behind a desk 9-5. For example, portfolio company Frontdesk helps SMBs (like personal trainers, instructors, and dogwalkers) manage their business and scheduling from anywhere.

No doubt there will be other exciting advancements as we move forward, but these are the three particular trends I’ll be tracking in the coming months. Which trends, ideas, apps, and innovations do you think will make a big difference in 2014?

Photo: BTC Keychain, Flickr