Now that the rush of the holiday season is over, it’s back to work for most of us. We hope you’re feeling re-energized and ready to embrace the New Year because there are plenty of new challenges that are going to come your way. Some of you may have already seen coming, others you may not even be aware of yet. Small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs, in particular, should watch out for these five business 2017 trends that experts predict will dominate the business landscape this year.
- Using emerging technologies will be important for growth
2016 saw the emergence of a host of new technologies that you can leverage for your business. For a comprehensive round up, check out Forrester’s Top 15 list of emerging technologies that are going to be important for attracting and retaining customers this year.
In particular, the technology to watch out for this year includes artificial intelligence in customer-facing and CRM systems; security and management tools that use IoT (Internet of Things); augmented reality in mobile apps; 3D software; and image processing.
It doesn’t have to be expensive, architectural firms of all sizes are using affordable virtual reality headsets like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift to visualize projects before construction. Other businesses will also be able to use augmented reality to visualize complete finished products and streamline their quote-to-cash and configure, price, quote strategies in the future, and it’s worth looking into now.
- Digital will have a bigger presence
Many companies already have a digital strategy, but as new digital innovations continue to push a shift from traditional modes of business, you will find your business becoming more reliant on digital, and you must adapt with the times if you don’t want to fall behind competitors.
Small businesses may prefer to outsource digital, but you can’t ignore the importance it will have. Not only will a greater digital presence be essential for attracting and retaining customers, it will also help employees to work remotely and help businesses to offer the best user experiences for their customers. High quality data will be readily available through better analytics, location intelligence, insight application platforms, improved big data analysis and more, helping us to make more informed decisions.
- There will be a greater focus on employee wellbeing
Last year, Virgin Pulse presented the results of a survey called The Business of Healthy Employees. The survey revealed that businesses are increasingly becoming more responsible for employee wellbeing. The survey reported that 76 percent of employers are looking at employee wellbeing not only through the lens of sickness and health, but as a complete holistic approach.
Wellbeing programs for employees include exercises to create mental health awareness and encourage social inclusion, offering benefits that make employees feel appreciated and therefore more loyal to their organization. No matter how small your business is, it is a good idea to introduce employee wellbeing strategies for a happier, healthier workforce and better productivity.
Technology can also help here too, many businesses are using wearable technologies like fitness bands and smartwatches to improve productivity and increase job satisfaction. A Human Cloud at Work study by the University of London found that wearable tech could boost productivity by 8.5 percent. There is also a chance that virtual reality headsets could eliminate the need for desktop monitors in the future, therefore eliminating the health hazards of working with computers for long hours.
- Outsourcing will continue to grow
Outsourcing has already revolutionized how small, medium and large businesses do business. But in 2017, there is likely to be more outsourcing of tasks and even departments, in areas such as IT, marketing, admin, digital, CSR and data security.
Other areas where outsourcing will be seen include automated processes for greater productivity, machine learning and robot software for repetitive tasks, better and more innovative cloud services for more efficient business processes and so on.
If reading this list has inspired you and made you keen to get ahead in 2017, then please get in touch with our virtual PA team and see if we can help.