We’re leaving 2016, the Year of Red Monkey, and heading straight for 2017, the Chinese zodiac Year of Red Fire Rooster, number 34 in the 60-year cycle called Ting UI. There are different kinds of roosters born in different years: Water Roosters, Wood, Earth, Metal, Wood, and now Fire Roosters, born in 1957 and 2017. The Red Fire Rooster is “the most dramatic and energized of all the rooster signs.” I consulted a list of famous people born in 1957: Steve Harvey, Steve Buscemi, Tony Abbott, Sid Vicious, Denis Leary, Spike Lee, Jon Levitz, and Osama bin Laden. Seems like a collection of dramatic and energized people, right? The Chinese Zodiak predicts this year’s batch of babies may be the most creative and talented ever born, so good news for expectant parents who believe in predictions of this nature.
The accuracy of more substantive statistical predictions – political, business, or sports — is based on the marriage of historical facts and mitigating facts or emerging factors. We’ve learned the hard way, in 2016, that political forecasting is highly susceptible to mitigating factors and is about as predictive as weather reporting. As a result, business forecasting for 2017 may be just as off-balance. Still, these four trends to get on board with seem to be no-brainers:
Virtual reality technology. I think it will move from the game room to the board room in 2017 in a big way, with lots of exciting emergent business applications. Given the online migration of travel and realty services to the web, both fields are primed to offer on-site virtual reality property and vacation rental tours. That’s the more obvious application; what do you think we’ll see (in another dimension online) that we wouldn’t expect?
Expansion of the gig economy. As Boomers transition into retirement, and Millennials demand flexible work hours, we’ll see much more free-lance opportunities for special or limited projects. Today, the computer savvy older American can telecommunicate from anywhere in the world, and well-paying (beach-side) limited gigs will have great appeal for talented and experienced Boomers (me included).
Bundling to fish upstream and downstream. This isn’t the bundling of two or more of your company’s products, but the bunding of your products with another service or product to increase sales for both partners. Big data will be critical in helping CFOs analyze which mergers would be most profitable, with the sweetest opportunities resting with shoppers who will buy this AND that, rather than this OR that.
CFOs will become leaders rather than followers. As alluded to above, CFOs today do much more than “count beans” or waive a cautionary finger after others have enacted a strategic plan. In 2017, more than ever, CFOs will take their rightful place at the right hand of the CEO in the board room, helping to determine the best way to enter new markets or expand product lines. The job is transitioning as the position gains stature; the expectation is that a CFO is now a strategic leader as well as business analyst with the ability to measure risk and reward, and to see opportunity where others don’t.
According to the zodiac calendar, your best CFO hire may be an Earth Rooster, born in 1969, because they are “Extremely organized and detail-oriented. Earth Roosters are excellent at multi-tasking. They’re motivated by success, and set high standards that they expect others to follow.”
This hasn’t been my hiring formula in the past, and I’m not seriously recommending it to you, but give U.S. political pundit pronouncements, it makes about as much predictive sense as anything else this year. I, for one, am curious and excited to see what this next year will bring.