What will the year 2016 bring from a strategic point of view? Which new technological and social trends will emerge and which old ones will prevail? How will customer expectations and behavior change? Here are some key developments which business leaders and strategists should keep an eye on in the coming twelve months and beyond.
- Social shopping trend is taking root
By launching buy buttons in 2015, Facebook and Pinterest have paved the road to a new era of social shopping. In 2016, this trend will continue and strengthen. It is to be expected that pretty much all social platforms will jump on the social commerce bandwagon allowing users to purchase products right on their sites with just one mouse click. For businesses, this opens up an exciting new sales channel which will rival established online stores.
- "Unified commerce" replaces "omni-channel"
First came multi-channel, than omni-channel, and now "unified commerce." The new buzzword simply takes into account the fact that consumption across multiple channels and devices has become the norm rather than the exception. Barely anyone shops only on one channel anymore these days, especially among younger consumers. Therefore, the challenge for vendors will be to provide a uniform customer experience across all channels. Targeted, personalized marketing offers through the effective use of online and offline data will play an important role in that.
- 2016 "The Year of Emotions"
When it comes to improving customer experience, the year 2016 is all about emotions, predicts customer experience expert Bruce Temkin. His explanation:
"Our research shows that emotion is the component of customer experience that has the largest impact on loyalty, but it is also the area where companies are least adept and often seemingly ignore. Over the past few years, neuroscience and behavioral science research has begun to fuel new techniques for affecting human emotions. In 2016, we expect to see a major jump in the number of companies that discuss, measure, and design for emotion."
Innovative emotion analytics software that recognizes, quantifies, and analyzes facial expressions, body reactions (wearables), or content and tone of spoken language will fuel this trend.
- 3D printing entering new phase
The issue of 3D printing will continue to stay with us this year. However, the focus will shift from the various applications of the technology to finding ways on how to monetize on intellectual property. “The real opportunity is not the widget. It's the intellectual property you're creating," says Mike Walker, analyst at market research firm Gartner. Similar to music files, plans for all sorts of products and components will become available for download. “The real business winners could be the designers who stand to earn royalties for each download,” Walker believes.
- Generation Z entering the job market
This year, gen Z (born between 1995 and 2010) will enter the job market with full force which will likely be met with mixed feelings among employers. While compared to previous generations, gen Z is said to be the most technological, social, connected, global, open-minded, and entrepreneurial, it is also characterized as being very realistic/cynical, focused on personal life, and less loyal towards employers. It remains to be seen how employers will deal with this challenge (and opportunity!).