As ever, the new year ushers in an opportunity to consider what’s going to come up in 2017. If I had sum up my major 2017 predictions, it would be more of the same, except faster, different and, probably, worse.
I would like to separate the challenges into three buckets:
- New technology
New Technology 2017 Predictions
On the new tech front, we are on the cusp of a number of breakouts. For most businesses, however, Bill Gates’ statement seems appropriate to invoke:
“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”
(Source: The Road Ahead)
The big issue for business is to sort out which ones are most pertinent to their situation and strategy and how to cracking on solving/integrating these new technologies into their business flow. Here is how I break down the new technological advancements and their impact on business:
There are five technologies with which we are now familiar in boardrooms that need to be tackled with greater means and finesse. These technologies are gaining undeniable importance for every business. While four are positive in impact, cyber security is the one more entropic force.
- Smartphone – is your site mobile first?
- Social Media - is your increase in budget matched by the increase in human resources?
- Big Data Analytics – do you have a single view of the customer?
- Cloud – have you optimised for what can be stored or run on the Cloud?
- Cyber Security – are your employees trained to be aware?
Interestingly, there are many overlaps between these technologies. Spawned by social media and the ever ambulatory phone, the use of big data without the Cloud seems unimaginable, yet they bring up serious concerns of security risks. In an era where cyber security breaches will continue to populate front page news, the opportunities and threats will play themselves out on data collections, social media, smartphones and the Cloud. Cyber security cannot be relegated to a cyber security software. It must be everyone’s role to act responsibly.
On the cusp
There are four technologies that have been around for a while, but are only now legitimately coming of age in a business environment:
- Artificial Intelligence – what is your AI strategy?
- 3D Printing – how could a 3D printer help your process?
- Blockchain – what problematic transactions or exchanges could the blockchain cover?
- Augmented Reality – are there ways to engage your customer or improve your retail experience with AR?
Finally, there are more specific technologies that are also about to break out over the next two to three years, and whose impact on businesses not directly involved in this sector is harder to evaluate:
- Energy Storage.
- Virtual Reality.
- Self-Driving or Assisted-Driving Cars.
Marketing 2017 Predictions
There are three major components as to how I see marketing evolving in 2017:
- Digital marketing dissolves into marketing (at last). Social media is only a pay to play game. Mobile traffic will surpass desktop traffic. As part of this challenge, companies that are dealing directly with Facebook and Google will need to take a step back to make sure that their marketing mix is yet optimised (having moved aside their ad agency of reference).
- Marketing will need to focus far more on the 5E’s: Engagement, Exchange, Emotion, Experience and Essence . This will be all the more true for brands intent on developing their influencer marketing strategies.
- Chatbots / Automated / Programmatic marketing will be the talk of every marketing conference. The vast majority of companies will rush into automated marketing, causing a virtual tsunami of bad reactions by customers whose inboxes will be inevitably overrun with impersonal, irrelevant and out of context messages. A smart post by Mitch Joel brings up another area (to be avoided): programmatic creativity. Everyone is looking to cut corners. But, beware of the fatal shortcuts.
There are three important implications for marketers:
- Being customer centric or customer focused cannot left as lip service.
- It’s never been more important for marketing to be cross-collaborating with other departments (especially customer service, retail and sales…).
- The role of the ad agency is in massive mutation. Many companies are going directly to Google or Facebook. But, print and “traditional” media remain highly relevant. Marketers will need to evaluate carefully who does what and how to keep on message all the time across devices and platforms.
Management 2017 Predictions
First, 2017 will feature five important elections on the world’s stage (Germany, France, Iran, South Korea and India) plus the installation of a new American administration that has never looked as threatening as a disruptive force. Secondly, there are many weighty issues overhanging economies, including the next spate of terrorist acts, the continuing influx and management of immigrants, the fallout of Brexit, the possibility of stagflation…
There will be those who are eagerly taking on the new tech challenges, boldly pivoting and innovating. Then there will be those who are going to struggle to make headway, not for a lack of everyone working. Finally, there will be the conservative companies unwilling or unable to move.
Every CEO and management committee should be laser-focused on ten key issues:
- Define and stick to one’s North direction. The winds of change will easily blow some companies off course.
- Seek ways to make the brand come alive company-wide. A strong brand is the only route for long-term success.
- Infuse more meaningfulness (purpose) into the business. Innovate with purpose. Make a Difference in the World. Make all employees feel attached to that purpose.
- Hire (and keep) great talent. Create inspiring cross-departmental projects.
- Master communications in a multi-channel, multi-device world. Communication is the lifeblood of a company. Leaders must lead by example.
- Encourage continuous learning among employees (including the ExCom).
- Upgrade the level of awareness and habits of the entire company’s workforce on cyber security.
- Enhance the way the [entire] company stays up-to-date on new tech trends and initiatives around the world.
- Review and strengthen important partnerships. Collaboration is key to survival.
- Walk in the Customers’ Shoes. Get ever closer to the customer service department.
Wishing you all success and fulfilment in this fast-paced world. 2017 will be a rocky one. Fasten your seatbelts, because there will be many surprises and for those who feel behind the eight ball already, there will be good value in investing time to reflect on these points above.
Happy to hear your point of view on the above!