GO
Loading...

Five tech trends for investors to watch in 2014

Monday, 30 Dec 2013 | 12:18 PM ET
New wearable tech
Monday, 30 Dec 2013 | 12:00 PM ET
Wearable devices won't just be big with consumers in 2014. Employers may also begin implementing the devices in the enterprise space, as well. CNBC's Cadie Thompson explains.

The new year is just around the corner and with that investors are looking ahead to where they should place their bets in 2014.

While it's impossible to predict the future, there are some technology trends that saw momentum this year and are poised to take off in the coming year, experts say.

(Read more: Top 3 tech stock picks for 2014: Pro)

Here are five tech trends that investors should be keeping an eye on.

Wearables

Wearable devices gained some ground in 2013, but they will become more mainstream in 2014 and may even be adopted in the enterprise space.

(Read more: Venture capitalists' best ideas for 2014)

"The enterprise will leverage wearable technology in ways not being done in the consumer space," said Himanshu Sareen, CEO of Icreon Tech. "It is our prediction that the enterprise will embrace wearables for their employees specifically in industrial, high-tech and health-care settings."

A man wearing Google Glass at the headquarters of Google Belgium in Brussels.
Benoit Doppagne | AFP | Getty Images
A man wearing Google Glass at the headquarters of Google Belgium in Brussels.

One way these devices might be used is in a manufacturing setting where there are a large number of employees on a factory floor. Wearable biometric monitors could be used to track employees' vitals while they are on the job to help protect against accidents.

Investors can also expect to see more of these devices used to track patients health, Sareen said.

On the consumer side, it's likely investors will also see Google's Glass become available to the mass market.

(Read more: Here's what the 2014 tech IPO pipeline looks like)

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter have already had a big impact on how entrepreneurs raise funds for their small businesses, but a provision in the JOBS Act may take crowdfunding to new heights.

"Crowdfunding is going to be the new lottery," said Patrick Chung, a partner at the venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates. "Regardless of whether people actually make money, the first megahit to be crowdfunded will keep this lottery going for a decade or more."

The JOBS Act's Title III, whose rules haven't been finalized, basically would enable small companies to sell securities via online open platforms to both accredited and nonaccredited investors.

(Read more: Here's what the 2014 tech IPO pipeline looks like)

"On the one hand, crowdfunding is going to to be very positive, allowing entrepreneurs to raise capital easier and faster," Chung said. "On the other hand, in a world where money is becoming easy to come by, it also places a premium on investors who can actually help with the business."

In other words, while small companies will have more access to capital from a wider range of investors, experienced investors will have an edge because they can offer funds, experience and connections, he said.

Local

Expect to see a lot more real-time information on the people and places around you as tech gets more local and more personal next year.

"The combination of location tracking, big data and wearables means that when those points of data are cross-referenced you can get updated live information on all of the places, items and people around you," said Michael Chasen, founder and CEO of SocialRadar.

There's already a lot of companies in this space, and that number will continue to grow, Chasen said. Foursquare is a big player in the local space and Twitter has recently been testing a "Nearby" feature that shows users who is tweeting nearby.

Apple is also trying to connect people with information around them in a real-time manner via use of iBeacon, which is basically a transmitter that tracks shoppers' locations while in stores in order to send push notifications about products within range.

(Read more: Apple rolls out iBeacon, a GPS for inside retail stores)

Payments

Alternative payment systems will be big in 2014, Chasen said.

"There's either going to be a lot more acceptance or discussing of new non-government-backed currencies," said Chasen. "New technology and improvements to payment systems, all of these will take momentum and reach a tipping point where everybody will be talking about it."

Along with virtual currencies, like bitcoin, becoming more commonly used, investors will also see improvements in the virtualization of current systems, like Coin, which is an electronic device resembling a credit card that stores all of your credit card information in one place.

There will also be mass adoption of using mobile devices to make payments and eBay could be a big player in this space, said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray.

"There's an element eBay has that Amazon doesn't have, which is mobile payments. Your phone is going to become your wallet and eBay has a great shot at becoming one of the key players in that," Munster said, referring to eBay's online payment system PayPal.

Ephemeral

The rise of ephemeral media is going to continue to grow during the next year, Chung said.

"One of the hottest areas in consumer investing today is in nonpermanent media," Chung said. "Ephemeral is powerful because it's really, really old. The whole history of human communication has been ephemeral, our conversations have always disappeared. All human communication has been impermanent until not that long ago."

The success of the messaging app Snapchat has shown that there is a demand for more privacy and for new ways to communicate that enable people to be more vulnerable, Chung said.

(Read more: Snapchat turns down $3 billion cash offer from Facebook)

"It's simply more natural to us as humans. Social networks were designed to connect us, but they have become highlight reels of our lives. We only post when something great happens to us," he said. "But friendships are forged when someone has a 360-degree view of somebody. There's always a human need to connect with someone when they are feeling vulnerable."

By CNBC's Cadie Thompson. Follow her on Twitter @CadieThompson.

  Price   Change %Change
EBAY
---
AMZN
---
AAPL
---
TWTR
---
GOOGL
---

Featured

Contact Technology

  • CNBC NEWSLETTERS

    Get the best of CNBC in your inbox

    › Learn More
  • Matt Hunter is the senior technology editor at CNBC.com.

  • Cadie Thompson is a tech reporter for the Enterprise Team for CNBC.com.

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.

  • Jon Fortt is an on-air editor. He covers the companies, start-ups, and trends that are driving innovation in the industry.

  • Lipton is CNBC's technology correspondent, working from CNBC's Silicon Valley bureau.

  • Mark is CNBC's Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bureau Chief covering technology and digital media.