Strategic Trends of 2012 – Does your Business Strategy capitalise on these?

19th April 2012

Caroline

Business Growth

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It fascinates me to take a step back at look at what is going on in the world around us. What are some of the trends that are affecting our daily lives, the way business is conducted and the impact that has on future business strategy.

Here are some of the trends I see happening currently:

Connectivity: In a digital world where we are increasingly connecting at the speed of light, with online (social) networks even starting to spread into the business world we are connecting with more and more people. Using sites such as Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Ecademy and Pinterest, we are sharing more information (articles, recommendations, what we are up to) with people, many of whom we have never met. Now with Twitter we can have a direct conversations with people we would never have access to such as celebrities or a leading business people. This is opening up a world of opportunity.

With our increasing desire (and in many cases need) to connect with others online plus the need to get internet and email access wherever we are and the move to ‘The Cloud’ for data storage and computing power; the future is going to require us to have good connectivity to the internet wherever we are.

Collaboration: There is a growing trend away from companies with large full time employee bases to portfolio careers with people coming together to collaborate on a particular project for a period of time. You are seeing more business collaborating together to secure large tenders and large organizations collaborating with ‘one man bands’ to get access to niche specialisms. The internet is again an enabler of this with freelance sites such as www.elance.com and www.odesk.com that enable you to find an outsourcer to do everything from build a website to conduct research. Such “Crowdsourcing” is an example of the kind of collaboration I describe. The future of business is about collaboration.

Digital Times: An increasing proportion of things we interact with are moving online. For printed media, the move towards digital happened a number of years ago with Yellow Pages going digital and the widespread use of email to send pdf versions of reports and marketing literature rather than printing hard copy versions. The growing popularity of tablets such as the iPad and ebook readers such as the Kindle and the Nook are seeing books, magazine and newspapers being consumed in digital format. In January 2012 Amazon reported that three times as many ebook downloads are being bought than paperback and hardbacks combined.

Of course the music industry has gone digital with Apple revolutionizing the industry with iTunes and latterly with its iCloud and iTunes Match offerings.

3D printers are in development which enable everything from concrete building sections to training shoes to be “printed out” from revolutionary printers using composites. There is likely to be a day where we buy our clothes online and “print” them out at home.

Mobile Mania: It is in our line of sight that all phones will be smart phones. In line with the Connectivity point above, according to MSN 81 percent of smartphone owners search from their phones at home, 80 percent shop from their phones, 68 percent visited a business in person or went to its website after searching from their phones, and over half actually buy something. Your website, particularly if you sell from it, needs to be mobile-ready.

Changing Economic Power Bases: In a report entitled ‘The World in 2050″ HSBC predict that 19 of the top 30 economies by GDP will be countries that we describe as emerging. China and India will be the largest and third largest economies in the world respectively.
There is a lot of focus is on international trade with the ‘BRIC’ economics of Brazil, Russia, India and China where significant growth is taking place. Indeed many believe that a key recovery strategy for companies in the struggling US and European economies of the early twenty-tens is to export to these emerging economies. HSBC’s strategy is based around their international presence and how they can open the door for companies to export.

New Models of Financing
In the years since the start of the ‘credit crunch’ of 2008, it has been very challenging for businesses to raise finance from their bank(s). In the UK, for example, bank lending to small businesses did increase in 2011. In fact a number of British high street banks trumpeted that they had exceeded the UK Government’s Project Merlin targets for lending to businesses. In spite of this, many business owners are still finding it difficult to secure funding for growth. New sources / models of financing are emerging with networks of ‘Angel’ investors looking for investments to increase returns on their cash are getting together offer funding to businesses. Online peer to peer lending market places such as www.fundingcircle.com bring investors and borrowers together. Of course we have some new jargon to describe this: Crowd Funding.

The fusion of Crowd Funding and Social Networks and the idea that some of your credit rating can be assessed on your Social Capital (how you behave on social networks such as Twitter and Linked In and the relationships you build) are being built into a new bank being created by www.banktothefuture.com

You can see that the key trends of Collaboration and Connectivity are at play here.

Paying for goods: The development of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in mobile phones and ‘digital wallets’ is promising the advent of us paying for goods by passing our mobile phones over a reader. Organisations such as Google, Apple and Amazon are jockeying behind the scene to be the banks of the future.

• Stranger Influenced Buying Decisions: With more and more product / company / service reviews online our purchasing decisions are being influenced by complete strangers. Marketing spin is no longer enough to close a sale with increasingly educated customers.

Flawsome: In April 2012 the website www.trendwatching.com wrote an article entitled “Flawsome”. Trendwatching.com believe that “brands that behave more humanly, including showing their flaws, will be awesome”. Consumers are more focused on brand attitude and behavior than ever before because they find it hard to relate to a brand that portrays itself to be perfect. Instead, it is easier to relate to a brand that shows its flaws, that makes mistakes and apologies. It is easier to relate to a brand that is more real-life and human.

As you glance back through the trends listed above (and of course there are more than these) you will see a theme throughout: The internet. To be successful in business in the future, I believe that customers need to be able to interact with you online and of course buy from you easily. The more instantly you can gratify their buying needs across many different geographies, the faster your business will grow.

One Response to Strategic Trends of 2012 – Does your Business Strategy capitalise on these?

  • Sue Hewitt says:

    Gavin, thanks for that brilliant trending summary. One of the things this means for our business is the pressure to take personal development out of the classroom with more emphasis on web based learning. We are moving towards doing some video clips supported by downloadabel materials. However. both you and I know that there is no subsitute for the experience of face to face learning, sharing your experiences, challenges and goals with your peers. How do you see this internet revolution affecting training in the longer term?

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