Regardless of industry, to retain a competitive edge and a thriving organisational operation, keeping up with business and technology trends should be an integral part of any business’ strategy. Technology has come a long way since the desktop computer, fundamentally changing the way we operate.  The economy too, and other environmental and demographical (read: Millennials!) factors in the 21st century have also had an impact.  We highlight some key trends below.

The Workplace of Today

Gone are the days of 9-5 working arrangements, with many employees, particularly Millennials, who are now well and truly in the workforce, seeking more flexible working conditions and the ability to work remotely.  Work life balance is a key factor for many people seeking employment today, even more so than salary and other financial incentives.  Technology too, works in favour of today’s workplace, with cloud based programs such as Office 365 enabling collaborative working, document sharing and real time editing on applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  Social platforms such as Skype and Slack, and communications tools like Go To Meeting mean working remotely in a team has never been easier.

Blockchain

Bitcoin

Blockchain isn’t just for crypto-currencies like BitCoin anymore.

The hype around blockchain has hit fever pitch, with the technology set to change the way transactions, data and ownership of assets is managed.  Blockchain is a distributed database – think of a global spreadsheet, that runs on millions and millions of computers.  Blockchain uses state of the art cryptography to record movement of digital assets along a distributed ledger.  Transactions are updated simultaneously and transactions only go through when enough parties on the network sign off on them.  Use cases for blockchain are now being seen in finance (managing ‘know your customer’ checks and improving anti money laundering processes), the property market (with blockchain providing access to property titles and housing records), the electricity industry (by enabling houses to generate and sell their own electricity), and the sharing economy (by using data to build trust on peer to peer platforms such as Uber and Airbnb).  The future certainly looks better with blockchain!

Embrace Millennials

Often referred to the Peter Pan generation or boomerangs because of their propensity to jump from job to job, move back home and out again and expectation to be rewarded for minimal accomplishments, Millennials haven’t always had the best reputation.  Yet, it’s time to embrace the young people of today for a number of reasons.  As a whole, they tend to seek creative ways to perform roles better and they are constantly looking for ways to improve the processes in the workplace.  This leads to innovation, and helps jump start change within large organisations.  As they continue to take over more of the workforce, it is clear they should be embraced.

Customer Focus instead of Selling Focus

The customers of today are well educated in the ways of traditional, often tried sales techniques.  In fact, a hard sell today can often turn people away instantly.  Instead, consumers are now interested in connections.  This can be greatly attributed to the rise of social media, which is now not only used for personal connections – most businesses also are now active on social media platforms to connect with existing and potential customers.  With its ability to segment based on target markets, social media can be seen as a more personalised or individual style of selling or marketing, as opposed to more generic direct mail or television campaigns that are designed to reach a larger audience catchment.   Individuals will also use their social media accounts to ‘promote; your company, or otherwise – when they share information about your business (good or bad) with their networks.   If you and your business are not so tech savvy, it’s time to get social and connect with your customer!

Big Data Analytics

Big data examines large amounts of data to uncover hidden patterns, correlations and other insights and it is set to radically change the way businesses operate and make decisions – with many more decisions able to be based on predicted elements and data analysis versus ‘gut’ instincts.  Big data has potential in a wide variety of industries, from banking and securities, where data can be used for fraud detection and audit trails, and customer data analytics, to educational institutions, where data can provide insights into student’s learning patterns, to medical and healthcare providers, who can use patient data to predict medical emergencies and health trends.  Stay tuned – big data is coming to an industry near you.

As you can see, the frameworks we operate in are constantly changing and innovating.  Technological advancements mean there are myriad tools available at the tip of your fingers with which to build and enrich your business – whether it be data, analytics and reporting, or innovating and exciting ways to interact with your customers and increase sales.  Embrace the changes around you (and those Millennials!) and you’re well on your way to building a team of happy employees, and a strong business foundation to tackle the future head on.