In mid-December, small business owners are thinking about year end numbers and whether their companies will meet the annual goal(s). Advisers to small business owners are thinking about tax liabilities, the expiration of certain programs favorable to their clients, and whether the upcoming year will be better for their own businesses. What is little discussed but super important is what the future holds. In preparing to answer that very significant question, the small business leadership team is thinking proactively about strategy, innovation, and how to turn today’s customers and competitive advantages into a plan for sustainable success.
American Express publishes a blog under the OPEN Forum brand. One of its leading bloggers is John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing. A few weeks ago, he identified the following top 5 trends in business for 2013:
1. “Crowdsolving” becomes a hot innovation trend. Some of the greatest challenges we face in the world..are being tackled in unique ways. Instead of relying on the existing machines and organizations to address problems, innovative organizations such as the X Prize Foundation are creating competitions that reward disparate groups of individuals to collaborate and create innovative solutions in ways that had not previously been possible..This form of what is being called “crowdsolving” will make its way into the mainstream of business innovation. Asking our customers, vendors and employees to act as a community think tank will become one of next year’s hottest innovation trends.
2. Technology evolves to assist human contact. ..Instead of a world lacking human connections, these.. innovations have actually made it easier for some to create real human contact—one-to-one. For example, medical-monitoring devices provide the opportunity to create better doctor patient relationships and care; new scheduling and meeting services make it easier to connect in real life; and sharing ideas in virtual space leads to a greater desire to connect offline in social settings.
3. Content-filtering becomes a significant marketing practice. ..Moving forward valuable content must include insight, and filtering should be a central practice in order to help people and prospects get what they need when they need it. Service providers will be chosen based on their ability to find and share the good stuff in addition to making sense of the changing stuff.
4. Visual simplicity becomes the desired communication method. From a design standpoint you don’t need to look beyond sites and services such as Pinterest, Pinvolve and The Fancy to see that people want visual content. The current trend in Web design takes a cue from this desire for visual scanning and marries it with the need for simplicity and white space.
5. Tablet optimization becomes the mobile standard. ..The new generation of mini tablets are going to impact responsive design and what we’ve been calling mobile devices. Tablets and mini tablets will see a tremendous jump in server logs and become the de facto design standard for mobile content. That doesn’t mean mobile phone size browsers aren’t important, it means there will eventually need to be a divide in how we address tablets vs. phones.
How you apply these trends to your own business is a big decision. Let’s take the trends in reverse order. If you have a website, it is simply inexcusable any more to not have it prepared to be read on multiple platforms/types of devices. Secondly, please take a look at your website and consider how to make it more simple, visually appealing, and written with the mindset of the user in mind. Everyone has content available–come up with a strategy of how you are going to share it with others professionally, opportunistically and systematically. Work with your leadership team to use technology to make your business more personable. When you encounter problems that need solving or innovation that needs to occur, outsource the brainstorming to others related to your business–they will be glad you thought to involve them and your ideas will be stronger as a result!