Monitoring and analyzing trends is one of the key responsibilities of strategists. That’s why we did some online research for you identifying five business trends that according to experts may affect your business in 2015 and beyond in one way or another. Some of these trends—individually or in combination—provide true opportunities for product, service, and business model innovation, while others create new challenges for traditional businesses to overcome.
- Sharing Company
While consumer sharing has become mainstream and new online platforms enabling people to lend and share pretty much anything from cloths to cars pop up almost every day, “peer to-peer enterprise exchange,” that is the open sharing of resources between companies, is still in its infancy. However, experts such as Robert Vaughan, economist at PwC, believe that this could change quickly. Vaughan is convinced that companies that share tangible and intangible assets (production equipment and supplies, distribution channels, employees, know-how, patents, etc.) not only operate more efficiently than non-sharing companies, but also unlock greater potential for innovation benefiting all parties involved, not least the consumers. Vaughan estimates that peer-to-peer enterprise exchange “probably presents a larger opportunity than consumer sharing.”
- Branded Government
“2015 will be the year for progressive brands to initiate, undertake or support meaningful civic transformation,” says Trendwatching.com, a leading trend research firm. Surveys show that most young people around the world don’t believe that governments can solve today’s social and economic issues alone, and expect businesses to get more involved. The concept of branded government goes beyond the currently practiced corporate social responsibility approach. It aims to “identify governmental shortcomings and – either through partnerships or by working directly with the community – effect real and lasting positive change.” A good example is the real-time navigation app Connected Citizens developed by Waze which allows road-users and public administrations to share current traffic data with the aim of improving urban traffic conditions. The program launch partners included big cities such as Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, and Tel Aviv.
- Mobile Payment catches on
Mobile payment, experts agree, will become more common in 2015. Tobias Schreyer, a specialist for international electronic payment processes, believes that Apple Pay will position itself as the strongest competitor in this segment. He also predicts that in 2015 new mobile payment methods will be launched on the market putting the entire sector under strong pressure to adapt. As German users are expected to embrace these new mobile payment methods, local sellers are well-advised to react to this trend quickly. A good example of how this can be done in an innovative way is Starbucks’ Order-Ahead-App which was introduced in October last year in the US for testing purposes and received lots of positive feedback. The app allows customers to pre-order their beverages and pay cashless with their registered Starbucks Card. This is not only convenient, but saves time.
- Social Shopping
Another trend that most likely will gain momentum in 2015 is social shopping. Thanks to a new shopping function, businesses will be able to use social networks not only as a marketing and communication channel, but also as a sales platform. A “buy” button will let users purchase products instantly without leaving the site. As a result, the social media ROI of businesses should increase significantly. While Instagram has already successfully introduced its "Like2Buy" button, the shopping functions of Facebook and Twitter are currently still in testing phase. But it is likely that they will be officially launched sometime later this year.
- Startups on the side
Thanks to low-cost technologies, such as cloud storage and mobile payment, logistics, shipping, and ERP systems, it is now easier than ever to start your own online business. Jim Price, serial entrepreneur and professor at Ross School of Business at University of Michigan, estimates that today it takes only a quarter of the time and a tenth of the cost to build a startup compared to what it took ten years. He argues: “More people are realizing that they’re not facing a life choice of keeping their 8 to 5 day job or starting their dream business. Now they can do both — keep the safety net of the pay and benefits of their day job, while launching the startup inexpensively on the side; seeing how it goes, and if it takes off, scaling back on their day-job hours or quitting altogether and jumping into their startup full-time.” For established businesses, this means that they will be facing even more new competitors entering the market.