New years always bring about excitement, energy, and predictions for what will happen in the future. Of course, the last two years alone have significantly shaped what the next ten will bring, but a few things stick out to me from the trends I have been watching.
So let’s get to it.
Certain technologies have only been available to the most prominent companies for the last few decades. Those technologies either cost too much money, or the company that ran them didn’t even care about small businesses.
Tools for businesses and customer options will continue to move digital transformation into Main Street small businesses. Here are a few examples that have continued to grow in popularity.
Cloud computing: Gone are the days of a small business needing its own server to house information, or Dropbox was kind of the first pioneer to help open up digital transformation. With its freemium model, the price was free so that everyone could enjoy.
That led to Google Docs and Drive so every business could house their documents for a low cost, and Small businesses will add technologies to be more efficient.
Cloud computing is cheaper than ever before, and it continues to bring value to small businesses.
Artificial intelligence: we don’t have robots making plumbing repairs quite yet, but we do have artificial intelligence ad buying at small businesses. Tech companies like Scorpion, AdRoll, and Adobe have provided programmatic ad buying for quite some time. It’s now more affordable than ever as this technology continues to improve and get stronger.
Artificial intelligence software can work in the background for your ad purchasing and make on-the-fly changes, and adjust bids for you to get your ideal customer. This allows a small business to compete for keyword share with larger-budget competitors.
Web2, the state we are currently in, is currently owned by big companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others. We, as consumers rely on them for all of our information, and our website traffic is ultimately tied to their results.
Web3 is still a bit of an obscure topic from niche areas of the web but is focused on breaking that chain and creating a more open ecosystem.
If web3 starts to take off, we may see companies relying even more on reviews to drive their business. Reviews are nothing new, they have been around for centuries. But, in digital forms, reviews make your business show up on search engines in web2 and make you look good on your website.
Reviews fit in nicely with a web3 future in that it’s a verified purchase of your company where people can learn more about your services. How you handle review management will be critical. It will showcase your company and its abilities and also help you with search engine optimization on web2 and web3
The metaverse potential led by Facebook (now called Meta) will breed more companies to come out with more arable options for customers.
The world’s currency is still data and who owns the data becomes even more valuable. People have also already started to show an affinity for sharing data for technology that can help simplify or enhance their lives.
So what type of wearables will take off? Glasses, VR, and contacts are interesting to think about.
Virtual Reality: There are multiple VR environments to choose from. Meta has to be the leader in investment into the future. It has extended beyond games into conferences, meetings, and other events.
Virtual reality has still not hit its tipping point for growth, but a global pandemic has certainly helped it expand with people still wanting experiences. The future could be interesting to expand the metaverse into services where you could meet with a lawyer in their office with VR or have a home inspection done from someone 3k miles away from you. Strong possibilities.
Glasses or Contacts: Google Glasses were ahead of their time in their awkwardness and behind their time in technology. Apple has long been rumored to be creating wearable glasses. They will need a new product eventually to keep up with the crazy growth they have from their other devices. Glasses could make a lot of sense. Apple is known for its design chops, and you would expect that they would be more functional than first drafts of glasses.
Google has a patent on smart contacts. I imagine it may take a little longer to develop the technology and find people willing to put something in their eye instead of just wearing it.
I feel like every time I go to the grocery store, there is something new that I can’t find or that isn’t in stock. Thankfully toilet paper is no longer one of those things.
What’s the deal with the supply chain? The long and short is the pandemic wreaked havoc on demand for certain products, and the ability to supply certain products.
Consumer product companies have focused on revamping factoriesto build for the future and be a bit more pandemic proof, but that takes time.
Remember how you could never find hand sanitizer, and now it feels like Mcdonald’s is selling it because there is so much supply? That will hopefully adjust over time. Key supply chain losses are raw goods for building homes and parts needed to build new cars. These losses have led to an inability to build more houses leading to real estate spikes and new cars sitting on lots awaiting one final piece before they can sell it.
If you sell a physical product and aren’t actively engaged in new supply chain strategies as a part of your 2022 business plan, then you should start now.
Harvard Business School and Bloomberg both say that there is an increase in demand for supply chain MBAs from business schools. As companies try to fix the supply chain problems hitting shelves across the world, they will look to hire the next generation of talent from top business schools to help solve it.
The investment in new graduates will take time to start developing results, but will help companies build more future issues from developing with a pandemic that looks to be sticking around for a while.
With an increase in demand and focus on the supply chain, we will see a trickle-down effect in finance, tech, and other industries that rely on MBA talent each semester.
It’s not often that you get the chance to have the Olympics and the World Cup in the same year AND during a pandemic when people are looking to take in the events virtually.
With fewer people being able to attend the events live, brands and the organizers will look to find ways to bring them in virtually. Social media , traditional video, and virtual reality all remain options for ways to connect an audience to these global events.
These events tend to get a lot of attention and conversation rolling. They are also an excellent opportunity to capture a live audience which is a premium. Brands will try and connect their logos with these events and position the messaging around activity and global connection during the pandemic.
Big companies will be more invested in building social and other communities to breed loyalty. In addition, companies will try to expand into Discore, Signal, Slack for real-time communication and social properties like TikTok to create connections that showcase their company.
A community support option has always been a powerful way to build loyalty and awareness of a brand. With competition continuing to heat up in most sectors and with goods sometimes being out of stock due to the pandemic, this loyalty will be worth even more than ever before.
Tablet traffic has been on the decline and may end up at a similar pace with TVs, with mobile phones having the lion’s share of searches.
With mobile phones and voice controls as the remote, smart TVs have improved at promoting internet “surfing,” especially with video first sites like YouTube. This will continue to grow and develop.
Video marketing has long been exploding as a way to connect with customers. The growth of TikTok is a perfect example of that. It now boasts 700 million active users, growing faster than any other social media platform before it.
Businesses will emphasize more authentic, less professional video content. Professional videos create a lot of time, money, and planning to build out.
User-generated content videos can build on their own, and with the right strategy and planning in place, can become a viral moment that grows in perpetuity.
Numbers 10, 11, and 12 are all tightly wound together with remote work and the great resignation movement.
Big companies have delayed a return to the office. However, leadership roles will go back to being required in HQ or a significant office. Remote leadership can be challenging. There will be more surges of the pandemic controlled by remote options, but many people will want to return to the office and its connection.
Hybrid work will continue to be supported, but look for leadership and executive roles to be required in HQ. In addition, many big companies are built on in-person communication and will look to continue to provide a space that fosters growth through synergistic connections rather than virtual ones.
For companies who stick to remote, look for them to set up regular in-person connections. For example, monthly or Quarterly planning meetings can be a new way for people to get together while enjoying remote work at home.
Remote will also continue to play a factor for some positions/people, and companies who don’t support it will be limiting their overall talent pool.
There are still many people out there who prefer remote life. They won’t even look to move unless a company supports it. For this group of folks, companies can either decide to support it or make their talent pool smaller and only go for people looking for the in-office/hybrid experience.
We will continue to see challenges with hiring. Local talent is now accessible globally to companies that support remote employees. This will cause a rise in money spent to retain talent and money spent to acquire talent with both recruiting and salaries.
We will also see new benefits come about. If remote work is table stakes, look for more benefits around flexible work schedules. Vacation days or even on-site daycare could be options as well.
Equity and culture will also be a crucial part of securing talent.
Depending on where you look, Utahand many other unexpected states are leading for fastest-growing in the nation.
Utah grew its population by ~20% between 2010-2021 and had some of the highest appreciating real estate to prove it.
People have flocked to Utah from more populous metro areas. Now that they have the ability to work wherever they want. Utah is known for its beautiful outdoors. It is also an excellent place to raise a family and has less traffic/commute than larger cities.
Those states will struggle to support the infrastructure, political, and cultural changes that brings.
Predictions are always fun to put out in the universe. Everything I have mentioned is based on trends I have seen or heard. It will be interesting to track this year to see which lands and which doesn’t.
If there is anything we have learned over the last two years, it’s to expect the unexpected.