With business owners constantly looking for unique advantages, here are the 7 latest business trends going into the new year
There are many moving parts that keep an organisation running smoothly, but what business trends could improve this? Each aspect of your business is unique and requires different methods and technologies to improve.
This post discusses the most promising business trends going into the new year and how to prepare your business ahead of time.
1. Emphasise digital transformation
Adapting to new technologies is no longer optional. Businesses that stubbornly stick to outdated processes will rapidly fall behind their competitors. Look no further than former market leaders like Sears or Blockbuster for a classic case of this.
Additionally, technology is progressing faster than ever with no sign of slowing down. So, the gap between early and late adopters is more prominent than ever.
Artificial intelligence can perform countless tasks that previously required human involvement in a fraction of the time. Other technologies accelerate production cycles or passively improve the consumer experience.
Implementing these business trends and improvements frees up resources for different tasks and can help businesses quickly react to extreme circumstances like a worldwide pandemic.
COVID-19 heavily disrupted supply chains and increased the value of delivery. At that time, it was the businesses that could flexibly pivot their existing processes through a digital transformation that thrived.
2. Getting started with digital transformation
The digital transformation process varies between industries. However, the first step is always to identify the problem areas in an organization. Remember that issues may be obscure at a glance. A system could run smoothly, but that doesn’t mean it’s running optimally.
Search for processes that are filled with tedious or repetitive tasks—for example, creating a list of participants for a meeting or analyzing email subscriber data. Discovering methods to automate or improve those tasks through technology would save significant time.
One of the sectors that most benefit from digital transformation practices is cybersecurity.
3. Small businesses should focus more on cybersecurity
The notion that cybercriminals only attack large corporations is undeniably false. Targeting companies with million-dollar cybersecurity measures isn’t plausible. So, most go for the little person.
Forbes reported that cybercriminals are three times more likely to attack a small business than a large one. With the average cost of a US data breach being just under $9.5 million, cybersecurity is something every organization should commit to.
Most attacks on small businesses occur through unsolicited emails. Sophisticated phishing or spear phishing attacks can appear entirely plausible. Many are convincing enough to make an employee waste time confirming the message themselves.
This wasted time can be addressed through proper digital transformation. Artificial intelligence can analyze email content, behaviour, and context to detect threats. Many antivirus software uses artificial intelligence, and adopting them will prevent cyber threats and attacks from draining a business’s resources.
Every business wants to establish a good reputation for sustainability, as it is now apart of key business trends worldwide. After all, 80% of young adults in the US would pay more for a responsibly sourced product.
The challenge, nowadays, is that sustainability includes much more than just the product itself. Aspects like packing materials are also coming under more intense scrutiny.
Having sustainable packaging is similarly crucial to putting your logo on the box. The degree of sustainable packaging you use should reflect your business’s identity, mission, and values. The contributing factors to deciding this are the type and volume of material used in the packaging.
The impression you make can determine whether a one-time consumer continues to support your business. The most sustainable packaging will comply with these rules:
- Packaging should be easily recyclable or reusable. If it’s too much trouble to recycle, consumers are less likely to do so. The burden, in this case, is put on the business.
- The material should be non-toxic. Toxic packaging can seep into the product, which is dangerous for skin treatments, food, or clothing products. Avoid using materials like PVC, PVDC, and polystyrene.
- There should be no extra room. A tight fit indicates that you used the minimum material to package and ship the product.
- Communicate how to dispose of the package. If the material is less well-known, some people may need help knowing what to do with it. Further instruction is required for materials like starch packing peanuts and bubble wrap.
Business owners should keep records of their packaging materials’ life cycle and footprint. It’s best to have this information easily accessible for any curious shoppers.
5. Individual consumer experiences
A trend that’s been around for a while is personalizing consumer experiences. In the past, personal recommendations or targeted ads did the job. However, new technologies are shaking things up in exciting ways.
Previous marketing strategies didn’t leave room for consumers to take an active role when shopping from home. Potential customers were guided through a sales funnel until they made the final purchase. They were limited to watching someone else model the product rather than testing it themselves.
The “Metaverse” eliminates this problem by merging reality and the internet for the consumer. The combination of augmented and virtual reality allows buyers to engage with products while keeping the remote benefits of online shopping.
Virtual Fitting Rooms (AR)
Amazon started its “try before you buy” offering in 2018. It was a way to assuage people’s reluctance to purchase clothing they’d never tried on. Retailers are looking to take it a step further by offering virtual fittings. These rooms let shoppers see how clothing, jewellery, and other items will look on their bodies.
A webcam or mobile phone scans the shopper’s body and creates a 360-degree model. The items are layered on top of this model to predict appearance and fit. While virtual fitting rooms aren’t exact, they instil much more confidence than traditional online shopping.
This idea isn’t restricted to clothing either. IKEA’s The Place App lets shoppers see how a piece of furniture would look in their home. L’Oréal developed the Modiface application so people could see how specific makeup shades would look on their skin.
Virtual Reality Stores (VR)
Clothing retailers saw a 37% decline in sales when the pandemic shut down stores. Virtual reality is tackling this problem by giving buyers an in-store experience from the comfort of their homes. VR headsets recreate the interior of a brick-and-mortar storefront in the Metaverse. Shoppers can walk around and interact with products similar to an actual location.
Your business may need more resources to offer these services. Even if you don’t have access to AR or VR, it’s advised to provide some way for consumers to interact with your product. Investing in a spherical panorama-enabled camera allows you to make 3D renders for shoppers to view.
6. Employee business trends and relationships
People have always hoped to find fulfilment at work, but now they expect it. COVID-19 caused employees to re-evaluate what they want out of a job. They want new perks like work-from-home or tuition reimbursement to improve their skills.
It’s fallen on employers to find ways to create value in the workplace. Otherwise, there could be another great resignation or an increase in quiet quitting.
These factors apply to job hunters as well. Applicants who left a previous position due to lack of fulfilment are less likely to take on a similar job. Sometimes, rather than take on a new hire, it’s more convenient to rely on a freelancer. It is important to verify the licenses of contractors or freelancers to get the best quality for the business.
7. Growing “gig” economy
Freelancing is becoming more popular by the day. So, business owners must understand how to tap into this growing resource.
Freelancers are an excellent source of talent when you need more hands on deck. Many work on temporary and specific projects as contract workers. This agreement lets businesses meet the needs of each task without creating an entire full-time position.
Make small changes while focusing on the least optimized parts of your business
There are many business trends to follow and prepare for before moving into the new year. Implementing these changes may sound daunting for small or even medium-sized businesses. However, you don’t need to overhaul your entire operation in a day.
It’s enough to make small changes while focusing on the least optimized parts of your business. A good starting point is researching AI solutions to handle trivial tasks and improve your brand’s social standing through sustainable practices.
Ben Hartwig is a Web Operations Executive at InfoTracer who takes a wide view of the whole system. He writes guides on the entire security posture, both physical and cyber.
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