Predicting The Business Landscape for 2016

2015 has been the year of the entrepreneur with new business models and start-ups constantly popping up. This is due, in part, to innovative use of technology, social media and extremely low-interest rates. 2015 indeed, is a great time to start a business. However, as 2015 is coming to a close you may wonder what the future holds for 2016. 

What technology trends will create unique new business opportunities and change the worldwide business landscape for better or worse. Although we cannot predict the future, we’re going to share with you my predictions for three important changes that should be taken into account before setting up a business in the new year. 

3-D Printing
3D printing makes it possible to create an object simply by creating a digital file through computer aided design (CAD). The software then sends it to the 3D printer where the image is split into 2-dimensional representations, these are then fed through the printer that builds the object layer by layer. A rise in popularity in 3-D printing has the potential to totally revolutionize the global business landscape. Basically, 3-D printing means that anyone anywhere in the world can produce an object they want or need pretty much on demand.

Global shipments of 3D printers were forecasted to grow an astonishing 98% by the end of 2015. In 2016, these sales are expected to double. Over the next several years, it is expected that the price of 3-D printers will decline while means of use will continue to expand. 

Big Data
For the most part, Big Data has mainly been used by larger organisations in order to get a grasp of consumer behaviour. However, this is changing, relatively quickly in fact. Digital marketers and many start-ups collect distinct information about customers, then this data is used to improve their strategy. All the while collection strategy and analysis techniques are improving so many organisations are becoming better at collecting and analysing data.

In the past, companies had so much data they actually struggled to mine it for the useful information. Now, enhanced analytics means that big data is a completely different ballgame. Big data is helping organisations meet their goals and objectives. It’s being used to help retailers predict their customer’s future purchases, for pre-targeting in advertising which generates additional traffic and incremental sales by targeting new customers. This only scratches the surface of how increasingly crucial and useful big data is becoming. 

Smartphone Resale Market

Smartphones are expensive. Yet consumers want their hands on new smartphones with exclusive features, without having to pay the large retail price. This has generated vast business opportunities. This is breathing new life in the mobile phone resale market, especially in markets emerging throughout South-east Asia and China. Additionally, businesses that offer services to help users unlock their iPhone iCloud accounts on second-hand phones are becoming increasingly popular. As the smartphone resale market continues to expand, business opportunities like this will continue to emerge.

What These Changes Mean

It is vital to understand how the business landscape is changing if you are an entrepreneur. Developing an understanding of new technology trends and adopting them before others are key to maximizing your potential earnings, whether you’re trying to figure out uses for big data or are planning to involve 3-D printing in your prototyping process.

Is technology the answer to better productivity?

With Britain’s economy and employment levels growing much faster than other countries, productivity remains a key topic for improvement for businesses far and wide.   In a recent statement George Osborne expressed the importance of cracking the UK’s productivity puzzle in order to secure future prosperity.  Research has shown that the global financial crisis has had a negative effect on UK productivity levels. While this crisis is gradually improving, we cannot assume that our productivity levels will too.

Statistics show that even though the French shut down business during the summer holidays, they still produce more than the UK who work all year round.  A 2013 Government study provides additional support for this statement, revealing that French workers are operating at a 27% higher productivity rate per hour than UK workers.  This percentage is even higher when compared against Germany and America too.

However the ongoing investment and advancement in technology offers a promising opportunity for the productivity of the UK workforce. For example, the UK’s manufacturing sector has benefited from such technologies, allowing for them to produce 50% more than in 2009. Technology can be hugely advantageous for businesses and start-ups,  helping to reduce costs, provide access to new markets and enhance customer service. Globalisation has meant that local businesses can now be accessed worldwide, thanks to technology. This digital marketplace opens many doors for businesses, enabling them to sell their products nationally and even internationally.

Although there are a growing amount of success stories of businesses breaking into international markets, this is still not mirrored throughout the UK. Larger businesses think investing in IT and new digital innovations will guarantee them better business, but this is not the case. Businesses need to be more efficient when it comes to optimising these technologies in order to reap the rewards. The mixture of creativity, the right channels and data usage can create future opportunities.

The importance of an effective online presence is also crucial for businesses. However it is shocking to see that less than 30% of UK business have an effective online presence. Cloud-based computer file storage and sharing abilities now allow teams to collaborate across locations, providing much more flexibility. However the majority of businesses and employees understand the importance of the digital marketplace but are merely lacking the skills to take full advantage of these technological advancements.

The Government’s Digital Transformation Plan is the strategy we need to transform productivity. The extra focus on the role of digital technologies will be beneficial for the UK economy and help to drive productivity. If executed effectively the potential rewards for the UK are massive.  Future investments in IT systems and training is essential for the strategy to succeed. A change in behaviour and workplace culture is also needed for productivity to improve. There is no better time than now to implement these changes and get all businesses to embrace the technology at their fingertips.

Cloud is slowly gaining popularity within the financial sector, but many companies have been slow to adopt it…

Cloud is slowly gaining popularity within the financial sector, but many companies have been slow to adopt it and put in place a proper strategy for cloud. Unsurprisingly, the main concerns are over the security of cloud systems.

A survey recently conducted by Cloud Security Alliance revealed that 61 per cent of respondents had a cloud strategy in the formative stages in their company. 47 per cent of those said they had plans to use a combination of in-house IT, public and private cloud. 18 per cent planned to use private clouds. None of those surveyed had plans to primarily use public cloud.

The survey also revealed a link between use of electronic transaction channels and cloud policy. The more an organisations customer base used electronic transaction channels, the less strict the cloud policy in place.

“The results of this report are insightful into understanding how the financial services industry is progressing in terms of cloud adoption and how cloud providers can best serve their interests and needs,” said Jim Reavis, chief executive of the Cloud Security Alliance. “We hope that cloud providers and financial institutions can use this as guidance to help accelerate the adoption of secure cloud services in the financial industry.”

Financial service firms are keen to see more transparency and more control of auditing from their cloud providers, this was desired even more than improved data encryption. The top reason for those moving to the cloud, according to the survey, was flexible infrastructure capacity. This was closely followed by the need for reduced time for provisioning. The top services and uses of cloud amongst those surveyed was CRM, application development and email.

When looking at compliance requirements when moving to the cloud, top of the list was data protection at 75 per cent, corporate governance at 75 per cent and PCI-DSS at 54 per cent.

“The responses overall showed a very active market for cloud services in the financial services sector,” said Chenxi Wang, vice president, cloud security and strategy at CipherCloud, which sponsored the report. “Cloud has made solid in-roads in this industry with many firms looking to harnessing the power of cloud. There’s plenty of room for growth, particularly for providers who can fill the void for the auditing and data protection controls that are at the top of respondents’ cloud wish list.”

The survey also looked at how finance, insurance, security and government decision makers take action within their organisations. From standardising cloud services, to identifying which policies will have most impact, to understanding how best to educate users.

Over 100 professionals were surveyed, with organisations varying in size and from locations across the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions.

While financial organisations have been slower to adopt cloud services, it’s clear that they are catching up and starting to reap the rewards of these new services. If you would like to know more about how cloud can benefit your organisation, financial or otherwise, give us a call or email and we will be happy to discuss the best tailored solutions for your business.

The Procurement Group

Join us...

and 2000+ other CFOs and FDs who are already enjoying our free resources and industry insights.