By Ross Dawson
I was recently asked by the office supplies chain Officeworks to create a list of trends for micro to mid-sized business, which they used in a promotional campaign, matching relevant products from their offerings with my trends. Here are the 10 trends:
From HQ to CQ
It is not just micro-businesses that are increasingly using co-working spaces. Mid-sized businesses are also using them to shift from an HQ ‘Headquarters’ mentality to a CQ ‘Connected Quarters’ approach in which they seek talent, ideas, community and customers as well as giving their workers flexibility. Co-working spaces are perfect to help talented staff work in an attractive space but avoid unnecessary commuting, to set up branches in other cities, and to connect into the communities that will drive your business forward.
A whole new generation of technology is allowing us to track every aspect of our lives, with many Australians discovering that they enjoy and get real value from these deeply personal insights. Business owners have always been immensely motivated to be at their very best. Now that they are able to gather data on their work, exercise, food and sleep, they are using what they learn to improve their performance in every aspect of their lives.
Speed is the name of the game. As the world has accelerated over the last years and decades, people’s patience has eroded to the point of vanishing. Customers now expect gratification will be almost simultaneous with their desires. Service is expected not just during normal business hours but sometimes to all hours of the day, and product delivery is anticipated to be close to instantaneous. Companies need to be good at managing customers’ expectations, but they also need to learn how to respond like greased lightning.
Big Data For Small Business
‘Big Data’ – gathering immense amounts of information to improve performance – is top of the agenda for massive companies like banks, supermarkets and utilities. Now small business is able to seize the opportunity, using similar tools to fine-tune and grow their companies. Applications range from predicting what customers are most likely to buy next or micro-tracking the success of marketing campaigns through to rostering staff when they are most productive. Using these kinds of tools can help smaller business sneak ahead of larger, less nimble competitors.
Your Unique 3D Print
Personalisation is moving to the centre of business, with customers expecting to get unique, customised products, and the companies who can offer that leaping ahead. The rise of 3D printing is a major tool allowing these new services to emerge. Manufacturers and designers can create instant prototypes, marketers are creating startling new approaches, and we are now seeing growing companies attract attention and revenue by efficiently creating products that are made uniquely for a single customer.
Very Personal Digital Assistants
We have long had digital devices to assist us. With the advent of new interfaces such as augmented reality glasses and gesture control as well as almost-intelligent software that understands us and what we want, digital assistants have become very personal indeed. Those who learn how to use these tools well will effectively be outsourcing part of their brain to become smarter, more effective and efficient, with more refined senses and increased capabilities, simply out-classing their competitors.
Information overload has run amok, swamping us with far more information than we can deal with. Long passages of text are rarely read, and people are being drawn to visual representations that convey insights quickly and efficiently. In stores where experience is key, and in every marketing and communications media, powerful visuals are increasingly not just necessary to cut through, but fundamental enablers to being seen at all.
Power to the Worker
The MegaTrend of “power to the individual” is highly visible today in how customers and citizens are calling the tune to previously arrogant institutions. As important is the shift of power to the worker. The companies succeeding today and tomorrow are those attracting the most talented to work for them, very simply by giving them what they want. These elite are looking for stimulating work, flexibility in when, where and how they work, and meaning by having a positive impact through their efforts.
Learn to Earn
As change accelerates, a divide is rapidly emerging. Those who take the time to study and learn about new possibilities are seizing new opportunities, while those who continue to rely on what they know of yesterday’s world are being left behind. As the world of business changes, success is increasingly going to those who understand they need to keep on learning in order to grow their earning power.
Light Up Your Life
In a connected world you are either visible or invisible. Being active in social and business worlds, both online and offline, allows you to be seen and to be found. Those who are interested in others will find that they are interesting to others, becoming beacons to customers and opportunities. In the world of business people often used to hide themselves, adopting false personas, but with a changing society being fully and completely ourselves is not just a personal opportunity, but a way to inspire others, be seen and grow businesses fast.