There is probably no organization on the planet with a better understanding of what people are doing and thinking today than Facebook.

Two billion global users is unprecedented scale, and it gives the social network incredible perspective on where we're going in the future. Facebook's using that scale to predict the future based on current trends.

Here are the 20 trends Facebook sees for 2020:

Blurring boundaries

Facebook says that traditional concepts like gender roles, age and work are being redefined.

  1. Omnicultural identities
  2. New negotiations: people & brands
  3. Next-gen work 
  4. Beyond aging
  5. Shopping near and far

Our identities are more fluid today as we belong to more and varied groups, thanks in part to technology and social networks that enable geographically diverse by ideologically similar friendships. Work is changing, thanks to millennials ... and technology that ensures we're never out of touch. And ageing is changing as well.

Multisensory multipliers

New technologies like VR and voice-first interfaces will join video in unlocking more immersive and intuitive interactions, says Facebook.

  1. TL;DR: People are consuming information faster
  2. Mobile video explosion
  3. Going live
  4. Fluid realities with AR, VR
  5. Catering to context

We're consuming more information faster than ever before, and mobile video is a big part of that, as is live video experiences with friends, influencers, and celebrities. Augmented reality and virtual reality are only going to accelerate those changes.

Mobile service economy

This is Facebook, the world's second-largest ad network, so the company's predictions do include commerce. Facebook says that "the path to purchase will condense to a single, mobile moment," and this means that people will have higher expectations about personalization and immediacy.

Interestingly, however, the company doesn't mention privacy issues.

  1. Convergent commerce
  2. Invisible differentiators
  3. Very personal assistance
  4. Messaging means m-commerce
  5. Loyalty lock-in

Commerce is converging on mobile -- something I've also noted in my research at TUNE. Mobile is not a channel anymore ... it's the ecosystem within which all the other channels live.

Differentiators in this ecosystem are speed and lack of friction, Facebook says. Increasingly, that can mean "personal assistance" from a digital assistant like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. (And perhaps, someday soon, from M, Facebook's assistant which is still in development.)

Facebook says messaging is a key to m-commerce, which is not entirely clear at the moment, but certainly has a strong connection, and that in this era of effortless commerce, customer loyalty happens via subscriptions.

Mobile command center

Mobile is the center of the customer experience -- especially in countries like India and China -- and increasingly in Europe and North America. Facebook says this will only "grow stronger" by 2020.

I think that's likely true, although computing is inevitably moving from the hand to the face as AR-powered smartglasses begin to take over in 2020 to 2025.

  1. Solely mobile
  2. Crucial connectivity
  3. Application consolidation
  4. Everything connected
  5. Building on mobile

Mobile is the only on-ramp the to digital universe for billions today, and Facebook says that will continue. In addition, Facebook sees increasing WeChat-like consolidation of apps ... in other words, apps becoming platforms.

(We see that already as Facebook is building a games app store into Messenger, complete with advertising-based monetization, and has made Messenger a centerpoint of its efforts around connecting consumers with businesses, and enabling payments inside the messaging app.)

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The interesting thing about predictions from a giant like Facebook is not only that the company has incredible insight into where people are going, but also that it has significant power to shape the landscape within which people make choices about the future.

It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how the next few years unfold.

Published on: Nov 23, 2017