Business Trends to Watch in 2016
Last year in this column, we highlighted business trends that focused on efficiency, mobility, and accessibility. In 2016 we expect businesses will focus on many of the same ideas, with technology remaining at the top of business priorities. This year, however, we expect to see a shift, with companies placing value on employee and client satisfaction as a way of increasing productivity and retention.
Here are some of the trends we anticipate for 2016.
1. Cloud Computing: We have heard about the ubiquitous “cloud” for several years, but in 2016, we will see more companies making the switch from traditional servers. In fact, it is expected to the biggest information technology expenditure for businesses in 2016. Cloud computing is an Internet-based system where resources, data, and information are provided to computers, allowing its users on-demand access to its data. The biggest advantage is accessibility; users can access their work from any location, without dealing with the speed issues of remote access. Cloud computing also has benefits of affordability and effective disaster recovery and backup. Cloud computing will soon become a necessary business resource.
2. Wearable Technology: One technology trend that will soon integrate into the business environment is wearable technology. Forbes magazine forecasts that by 2016, the market for wearable technology will exceed $6 billion dollars, primarily driven by millennials and Generation Z entering the workplace. While devices like FitBit and Apple Watch have debuted in office environments for health initiatives, in 2016, it is likely that wearables will be of greater use to facilitate employee accessibility and efficiency.
3. Online Lending: Since the economic crisis of 2008, small businesses have been turning to nontraditional means of financing. While Small Business Administration loans continue to be the preferred and most secure option, companies that are not able to meet the more stringent requirements of SBA loans are turning to online lenders. Since 2014, almost twenty-five percent of small business borrowers have turned to financing through an online lender, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve. However, business owners should be cautious. Internet lenders are not subject to the same regulations as traditional loans, and factors such as Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and hidden fees may not be entirely transparent. However, with proper due diligence, small businesses may find online lenders to be a viable option in the coming year.
4. Cybersecurity: 2015 has taught us that hackers are not only targeting big business, but small and midsize companies that notoriously neglect security. Small businesses tend to create repetitive or predictable passwords, use open and unsecure Wi-Fi connections, and open and abandon numerous user accounts. According to Matei Gavril, CEO of PRMedia-Online, taking steps to install security software, create complex passwords, secure Wi-Fi connections, and encrypt smart devices are some of the steps businesses should take to reduce their vulnerability to cyberattacks.
5. Flexibility in the Workplace: While employees have always longed for the elusive “work–life balance” we expect to see more savvy companies creating opportunities for their employees to make this concept a reality. As the demand is growing—millennials are expected to produce the next “baby boom”—flexibility is becoming a priority among companies to retain their employees and promote productivity. More companies have begun offering flexible work hours, more vacation time, longer maternity and paternity leave, and even paid sabbaticals for travel or philanthropic endeavors. These initiatives are examples of how companies are maintaining their competitive edge in recruiting top talent.
6. Customer Service: Today, customer praise and complaints alike are more readily available to the public and can make or break a business. This year, we will see more companies budgeting for initiatives to retain customers. According to Jay Bear, New York Times bestselling author, worldwide, companies spend $500 billion on marketing in a year while only spending $9 billion on customer service. This is despite marketing research demonstrating that customer retention is the fastest route to growing profits. Businesses can integrate their customer service into a form of marketing that may prove to be more affordable in the long term.
Business Insights is hosted by the Law Firm of KPPB Law.
Bidisha Idnani an associate attorney at KPPB Law practicing civil litigation.
Disclaimer: This article is for general information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or other professional advice.
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