If you study historical business trends, you’ll notice that they evolve, shift, disappear, and emerge from year to year. By recognizing the ebbs and flows, you can better prepare your organization for the future.
Keep an Eye On These Trends
By definition, a trend is “a general direction in which something is developing or changing.” As such, your business can’t afford to ignore the trends that are emerging in and around your industry. If you do, you’ll end up becoming irrelevant and obsolete.
How you respond to each of the following trends will differ depending on a unique set of circumstances and factors. At the very least, make sure you’re aware of their presence and how they could affect your business in the coming months and years.
1. Machine Learning
You’ve certainly heard the term before, but machine learning is more than a buzzword. It refers to advanced software and algorithms that are able to recognize patterns, learn from those patterns, and become smarter over time.
“With machine learning, the software is able to look at all kinds of data and compare existing conditions to past conditions—the software learns how to recognize patterns and learns that certain patterns mean certain things,” PinnacleART explains. “It learns when things are normal, verses when they are abnormal.”
While machine learning may or may not have useful applications in your field, you can bet they’re coming. Stay on top of new software and don’t be afraid to try something new when the opportunity arises. It could represent a chance to get ahead.
2. Salaried Security Professionals
“The most recent and interesting trend has been the rise of more sophisticated IT security,” digital marketing expert Sean Allen explains. “As more and more companies are storing and optimizing data and transitioning to cloud platforms, data security is moving from a ‘buy a padlock’ mentality to a ‘hire a security guard’ mentality.”
As a result of this “security guard” approach, a lot of businesses are actually bringing on their own salaried security professionals. While this may lead to larger personnel costs, it ultimately reduces the risk of security issues (which are exponentially more costly down the road).
3. Flex Scheduling
Research out of Bentley University suggests that 77 percent of millenials believe flexible work hours would make them more productive. The numbers also suggest that, by 2030, the 9-to-5 workday will no longer be the standard scheduling format. Instead, flex-scheduling is taking over.
Flex-scheduling is simply a more versatile form of scheduling in which employees can set their own hours (so long as they perform the same amount or quality of work as they would under a standard schedule). In other words, it gives employees the opportunity to work 6-to-3 or 11-to-7, as opposed to 9-to-5.
Flex-scheduling won’t work in every industry, but it’s certainly becoming more common in business-related fields with non-customer-facing positions.
4. AI-Powered Customer Service
Customers are more demanding than ever been before, which is largely a byproduct of highly personalized products and on-demand services. One of the unanticipated results of this has been a growing need for faster and more efficient customer service solutions. AI-powered customer service bots have emerged to meet some of this demand.
As marketing expert Marcus Johnson explains, “Artificial intelligence bots interact with your prospective customers and immediately provide them with the information they need. Both Facebook and Microsoft made major investments in artificial intelligence bots — sometimes called chatbots — in 2016. Other industries, such as retail, are expected to follow as the technology evolves.”
While it may be some time before AI bots are cost-effective and scalable for all businesses, this is certainly the direction the industry is going.
It’s easy to stick with the status quo and maintain your current way of doing things – especially if your business is growing and there’s no real friction holding you back. But as simple and sensible as the status quo may seem at times, it’s dangerous to get too complacent or comfortable.
The business world is constantly evolving and you have no choice but to innovate in order to keep up with it. By eyeing the trends highlighted in this article, you can stay ahead of the curve and begin thinking about what it would look like for your business to adapt.