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PYMNTS’ 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

Au revoir, 2016! It’s been nice knowing you. For Auld Lang Syne and all that.

As PYMNTS puts away our party noisemakers until next year and throws out our novelty New Year eyeglasses, never to be worn again, we realize that the time is nigh — resolution season 2017 has begun! So get ready to hit the gym, stock up on fruits and veggies, recycle more, be kind to your neighbors and take some more of those vacation days. Until mid-February, at least.

While some are better at keeping resolutions than others (we’re looking at you, Uber), there’s certainly no harm in trying. Here are our 2017 resolution recommendations for our favorite key players this time around.

SNAPCHAT

Resolution: Keep doing what you’re doing (mostly)!

Hey, sometimes, keeping up the good work is enough, and 2016 was certainly a good year for Snapchat.

The startup drew jealous ire from competitor Facebook/Instagram, success from millennials and confused befuddlement from baby boomers this year, along with a $1.81 billion funding round back in May. It seems to be working for it.

Over 100 million are on Snapchat — about 60 percent of whom are between ages 13 and 24. The platform is especially attractive to advertisers hoping to catch the eyes — and dollars — of this demographic. Snapchat has plans to go public as soon as March and may be valued at somewhere between $20 billion and $25 billion.

While there is some concern from investors that advertising sales are the sole source of revenue (hence the “mostly”), Snapchat’s great Snapbot unattended retail experiment shows that the social media company may have a few more revenue tricks up its digital sleeve.

CHATBOTS

Resolution: Study up. 

Oh, chatbots. Please, please make your best effort in 2017 to study up a bit on human interaction. We’ll be here on the other side of the screen to help (since that’s a big part of it, according to Turing).

Don’t get us wrong. We know some incredible work has been put in to make some amazing advances in artificial intelligence and language processing. (That’s one thing that we humans don’t always realize: Speaking is tough, and understanding is even tougher.) You all have come a long, long way in a relatively short amount of time. It’s quite impressive, actually.

You’re almost there, but not quite yet.

And since it’s possible that you could be in a lot more places with a lot more features in the near future, it would certainly do you (and us) some good if you could just put a few more hours into cramming beforehand.

APPLE

Resolution: Differentiate.

This year wasn’t the worst for Apple … but it wasn’t particularly great either. The word tepid comes to mind.

Apple Pay was adopted slowly and still isn’t particularly differentiated enough from card payments. Hardware offerings, like the Apple Watch, the iPhone 7 and its cousins, saw brief sparks of interest followed by long periods of decline.

Apple should work on differentiating its releases to spark consumer interest in investing in its new releases. Why buy an Apple Watch when plenty of other prior mobile releases come with just as much, if not more, functionality? Why buy an iPhone 7 when it’s basically a 6S with a few tweaks and minus a headphone jack?

Apple is renowned for its technologically innovative combinations of functionality and sleek design, but when the innovation is lacking, design isn’t enough to keep consumers interested.

There’s a reason people have been talking about the iPhone 8 since almost immediately after the 7 was released. Well, a few … and it’s that the next release’s rumored features offer actual advancements: faster and more efficient chips, long-range wireless charging, biometric security scanning features, hi-res curved OLED screens, etc.

So for 2017, Apple, put your best foot forward and differentiate your new product releases. We know you can do great things, and when you do, the customers will follow.

AMAZON

Resolution: Change description to “purveyor of (almost) everything.”

Every year, Amazon somehow manages to outdo itself and finds more space in which to succeed.

Amazon expanded everything everywhere again this year. Amazon Prime launched in both India and China in 2016. Looking at it another way, Amazon Prime launched to about 2.7 billion people, or roughly 36 percent of the human population, in 2016.

Amazon plans to add another 600 million to its retail family by breaking into Southeast Asia, starting with Singapore in the first quarter of 2017. When all is said and done in the region, the company’s retail service will be available to about half of the entire world. And Prime Video is available in 200 countries and territories. Amazon has a solid hold on consumer trust and was responsible for the majority of eCommerce growth in Q3 2016.

On top of that, the number of Dash Buttons and countries keeps growing. Amazon is breaking into brick-and-mortar groceries, and Fresh keeps growing in the U.S., too. Echo sold out for Christmas because everyone wants a little bit of Amazon in their homes. Amazon even took to the skies in the U.K.

You even have plans to get into the logistics space in 2017, cutting out the middleman — from start to finish, it’ll be Amazon.

So what we’re saying is, Amazon, while you don’t actually make, sell and do absolutely everything just yet, who knows what the next few years will hold for you?

EVERYONE (BUT ESPECIALLY THE IoT)

Resolution: Security, security, security.

We’ll say it again. Security.

No matter who, what or where you are — consumer, company, designer, programmer, distributor, houseplant — if the events of 2016 taught us any one thing, it’s that cybersecurity is fundamentally key for continued prosperity and safety in the digital age.

Many in the world were introduced to the concept of the Internet of Things (even people who frequently used IoT devices) in October of this year after the Mirai botnet wreaked havoc via a massive distributed denial-of-service attack on the internet domain directory Dyn. Users’ service and access to websites across all sorts of industries — GitHub, Netflix, Twitter, Walgreens, the New York Times, PayPal, Spotify and some 1,200 others — were disrupted.

The Mirai malware can be launched from anywhere in the world and is able to scan the internet, looking specifically for IoT devices that are safeguarded by default or weak passwords. Once those newly compromised devices are at play, hackers can then use them to seek out other vulnerable devices to build a network that can be used to launch attacks.

In addition, 2016 saw two Yahoo breaches, bringing a total of over 1.5 billion compromised accounts. But it’s not just user data and security questions. According to Internet Society, the average cost of a data breach is now about $4 million, up 29 percent since 2013. And many legacy infrastructure systems remain vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Hacks became the new norm in 2016. With 30 billion devices projected to connect to the internet by 2020, this is one resolution that no one can afford to cheat on. At the very least, always make sure your passwords are strong and connections secure.

Happy New Year!

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