As the year progresses, analysts are predicting their forecasts for trends that will shake up not just the business world, but everyone’s world over the next 12 months. They reflect not just arise in new technology – but also inherent issues in the current world of business which are finally garnering attention.
These trends are not just going to impact the way businesses function, but consumers too. Here are a round-up of the trends picked by leading media channels for 2016.
1. The Gig Economy
The gig economy refers to the exponentially growing field of workers who are contracted purely for specific one off projects or freelance work. As technology advances, working remotely has become much more accessible. There are now easier ways to use cloud computing, remote work tools and other platforms that makes the necessity for a worker to be physically present in the office obsolete.
Furthermore, Forbes predicts that this new class of workers will also get a new classification. Uber drivers up until recently have been considered as contractors and therefore ineligible to benefits of regular workers or employees. There is no maintenance of minimum wage and they miss out on the benefits of regular employees. But an oncoming class action law-suit is predicted to if not overturn this ruling, then at least set the wheels in motion for a change to come in the next few years.
2. AI becomes less alien and more human
The future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming a norm in our day-to-day lives is not so far off. AI has loomed as a technological advancement that should be treated with great caution (Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates have all collectively voiced their concerns). Disregarding the threat of AI turning on humanity down the line, it would also pose a threat to the workforce. It is predicted that by 2020, 50 million people will have their jobs replaced by AI.
But Inc.com highlights that in the year ahead AI will help streamline businesses and even stimulate new ones. They have the potential to act as office assistants, with technology now able to automatically translate skype conversations and perform other more complex tasks.
Blake Irving wrote in a LinkedIn curated piece that mobile assistant tech though now widely available, is still to be widely adopted because as of yet, the complexity of interactions are still limited. Though Siri can tell you the weather around the world, a question that you may be able to pose to an assistant (“What was the name of that man I spoke to on the phone last thursday?”) will as of yet draw Siri a blank. This will change in 2016. Prototypes of new artificial intelligence apps have been released that show a personal assistant with a lot more human qualities. Their language is described by Irving (who unknowably interacted with a demo of X.ai’s “Amy”) as far more human. Furthermore, SoundHound’s new prototype app allows the user to talk to AI in natural language, rather than painfully trying to emphasise specific keywords.
3. The “Internet of Things” is also creeping into all aspects of everyday life
The “Internet of Things” is another buzz phrase that made the rounds in 2015. In case you missed it, it describes the growing world of machine-to-machine communication that intends to make every object we interact with “smart” (if you were hoping that word would disappear from the prefix of every new invention – you were wrong). The way that smart objects communicate is through a network of cloud computing and data-gathering sensors.
In the year ahead this network is expected to solidify and spread connecting everything to just about everything else. As Inc.com muses, “Coffeemakers will start brewing once your alarm clock goes off, wireless headphones will remember your music preferences, and friends and colleagues you’re supposed to meet will get an alert if your car is stuck in traffic.” Research predicting patterns of the year ahead suggest that 6.4 billion “things” connected electronically, an increase of 30% since 2015. In the next 5 years, it’s predicted that the scale of the internet of things will jump to 21 billion.
4. Emphasis on social media and online content
Content writing has been lauded as one of the most important marketing tools of the present day. Why is it so important?
“Consumers value impartial input,” says Ian Altman in his Forbes article. “When the customer goes silent in the middle of the sale process, it used to signal that something was wrong. Today, it often means they are doing their own research. You have two options: 1) Provide valuable, impartial content to support their research, or 2) Allow your customer to get their information from other sources.”
Consumers, overwhelmed by the swathe of advertisements that flood their daily lives, now have many tools at their disposal to block advertisements. They’re more aware of the intention of companies to dupe them into buying something they don’t need. In order to establish a relationship of trust with a user, providing relevant impartial information to empower and excite the user is the only real option.
5. Millennials and Gen Z is the talent you need
Long gone are the days where businesses thought of rejecting millennials. As baby boomers begin to retire, millennials are set to start dominating the work force. Companies must take a certain approach in order to entice the best millennial talent. Kim Cole, co-founder of TheSalesZone.com, notes that “Millennials need to see a clear vision of their growth and future role in the organization. They might have aspirations that go beyond their current skills. If you share how you help your employees develop skills to advance in their careers, you might attract quality talent – and they will often help you attract other like-minded individuals.”
More so than the obsession with millennials – what they want from employers, what they don’t want etc – Gen Z need to come into focus they are the youngest demographic of new workers coming into the workforce in the next few years. They have grown up in a much more financially unstable world, particularly in the US where every 1 in 4 kids lives in poverty.
Research compiled by Northeastern University on Gen Z explains that this oncoming cohort of entry level workers are entrepreneurial at heart and want to “chart their own future.”
- 42% of them expect to be their own bosses at some point in their career
- 72% want to design their own university degrees and majors
- 70% want to leave higher education having gained some hands on experience
With a future of mounting university debt, Faisal Hoque believes these fears are justified, but that they also give Gen Z an edge. They have a mindset for some of the new and rapidly growing industries. Gen Z workers would excel in innovation and growth hacking. They are a definite advantage to companies, rather than a flight risk!