Towards the end of 2016, and the beginning of 2017, market experts from across the globe came together to predict what the future might hold for small businesses. They considered several trends for this year, including the potential of niche businesses to find their place in the market, the growth of the on-demand business model, and the delivery of new AI, AR, and IoT services.
Here, we’ll touch on some of our favourite trends that managed to capture the hearts and minds of the world this year, as we approach the end of 2017.
Trend 1: The Growth of Niche Companies
As the marketplace has grown more saturated, companies have needed to increase their focus on specific target audiences, going more in-depth with personalised messages and customised experiences. This year, we’ve seen more focus on smaller audiences, and greater success for businesses who know how to speak the language of a niche buyer persona.
Trend 2: Support for Remote Workers
As the remote workforce has continued to grow, the technology industry has done what it does best and responded with plenty of solutions designed to make remote working easier. Now, workers have access to a range of collaboration and communication services, including real-time messaging platforms and high-definition video conferencing platforms. Remote working is a sinch!
Trend 3: More Popularity for AI
In 2016, businesses were already beginning to embrace artificial intelligence as a way of getting ahead of their competitors in the marketplace and learning as much as possible about the customers they serve. This year, AI has become more imperative than ever to companies in search of a digital transformation plan that puts the needs of customers first. Machine learning is definitely on the way up.
Trend 4: IoT Begins to Mature
Various companies around the world have been focusing on the development if IoT for some time now. However, before 2017, the sector was largely under-explored. This year, we’ve begun to see IoT really come to life, with the delivery of intelligent cars, incredible new smartphones, and of course, the development of smart cities capable of making life safer and more convenient for their residents. As we move ahead into the future, the focus will be on making these systems more innovative and secure than ever.
Trend 5: AR Becomes More Innovative
Virtual reality was the hot topic of 2016, and while it continues to have an impact this year, more organisations have begun to experiment with the potential of augmented reality – not just for gaming purposes, but also for business solutions too. Start-ups in the communication industry are beginning to explore the idea that AR could be used for teaching purposes and meeting room environments. As the technology continues to expand, the chances are that the opportunities available will only grow more impressive into 2018.
Trend 6: Hybrid and Multi-Platform Continue to Emerge
As more users demand versatile access to their data on the go, there’s been a greater move towards the cloud for businesses and consumers alike. In the small business world, organisations are beginning to move away from the strategy of keeping their information in a single location, and are instead beginning to consider hybrid cloud options instead.
Trend 7: More Collaboration Across Industries
In 2017, small businesses and large enterprises alike have entered the era of customer experience. That means that companies in various sectors are beginning to work more closely together in order to provide their consumers with the end-to-end experience they need. Businesses are starting to recognise the need to integrate with other people in the space to provide a more complete set of products and services for their end-user.
Trend 8: Millennials Take Over the Workforce
Finally, millennials are now officially the largest segment of the population in America, they’re taking on management positions, changing the way that we communicate with each other, and transforming our experience of business environments every day. The workplace as we know it is changing, and it’s the digital natives that are behind the wheel.
It’s time to get digital if you’re not already.
Rob is Founder & Publisher of UC Today, a leading news publication specialising in Unified Communications & Collaboration technologies.