Experts pick top business trends for 2016 and beyond

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It’s impossible to settle on a set list of business trends to follow, as even the most strategic thinking business minds differ on what’s most important. Instead, I’ve perused online literature and offer you a panoramic view of ideas so you can sample the ones you think might be most applicable to your business. Some are more “think tank” and long-term oriented, while other suggestions could be incorporated now.

Forbes’ contributor Haydn Shaughnessy, author of “The Elastic Enterprise” writes about these trends: “The emergence of a new type of business ecosystem; new ways to scale businesses; the emergence of a different type of leader and leader values; the rise of the global middle class; the new global division of labor; the ‘universal connector’ or mechanisms through which business can be conducted anonymously at huge scale; the business platform, cloud infrastructure; the externalizing of talent, and in particular the rise of the bottom of the pyramid as a source of innovation.” [Emphasis by Shaughnessy].

Russ Fujioka and Gene Marks, writing for Entrepreneur, identified five trends that small businesses need to be aware of in 2016: (1) changes in the labor force due to the on-demand economy; (2) stalemates regarding public policy during election campaigns; (3) a tightening of funds in the US market due to the presidential election year and no significant legislation expected at the federal level this year; (4) the impact of the falling cost of technology, allowing easier access to affordable data and analytics; and (5) the realization of the power of the cloud.

Fast Company talking heads say 2016 is the year “that familiar buzzwords start having real, mainstream impact.” Faisal Hoque explains that theory in his list of five trends to watch: (1) the “gig economy” (freelance employment) will create more opportunities; (2) “big data” will supersize, as more companies take advantage of affordable data analytics; (3) social selling is going mainstream; (4) “lean business” will win via organic growth models; and (5) “Generation Z” will come into focus, and they want to be self-directed, period – especially in terms of college course requirements and business opportunities. They will want to write their own tickets.

Ten other trends were identified by Forbes’ contributor Ian Altman, who suggests companies (1) focus on connecting customers; (2) shift from complaining about to embracing Millennials; (3) invest in mentoring and engagement for remote employees; (4) focus on strengths-based tasks more than remedial leadership; (5) extend value on commodity products through service; (6) invest in a corporate customer service culture to grow revenue; (7) measure and deliver results, not just solutions; (8) introduce fun and games to engage customers and employees; (9) tightly integrate content marketing into the sales process; and (10) invest in developing “selling/solving” skills for non-salespeople.

We’ll close out with five small business trends put forth by USA TODAY columnist and the Huffington Post contributor Steve Strauss. He, too, is interested in the changing workplace and addresses new rights for new workers. Another concern for small business, says Strauss, is cyber insecurity. And the next revolution won’t be televised, he advises; “it will be streamed on a tiny screen” because its now a mobile world with all the challenges and opportunities that presents to entrepreneurs. Strauss, also, talks about the changing face of business, transforming as the market changes alongside the emerging younger generation business owner. The number one trend that Strauss points to is the emerging Uber economy and what that means.

That’s our reading for today, leaving us with a summary mindset that a new business platform is emerging, thanks to advanced technologies and younger workers (and younger consumers with different tastes) entering the marketplace. What will that mean for your company’s future? It’s worth thinking about…now.

About Jody Glynn Patrick

Jody is President of Glynn Patrick & Associates, which provides management consulting, executive coaching and strategic planning services. She is Publisher Emeritus of In Business magazine, which she published for 17 years. Selected as the “U.S. Business Journalist of the Year” in 2007 in Washington, DC, by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Jody has been a business reporter, editor, radio talk show host , and has won other state and national journalism awards. At the same time, she has helped corporate clients grow their businesses -- the basis for her practical coaching advice here. She also was the 2005 Athena Award recipient for her leadership role in mentoring other professional women. Jody will be talking with you weekly on TDS’ blog to share her insights and tips from the C-Suite perspective. Follow on G+.

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