Business is changing, and fast. The old models and practices are being swept aside in a perfect storm of social shifts, new consumer behaviours and game-changing technologies. What will we see in 2015? We count down the business and tech trends that are set to change the business landscape over the next 12 months.
1. Baby boomers are leaving the workforce
Amid cost-of-living concerns, many baby boomers are choosing to remain in the workforce for now. Despite this, the most senior boomers are hitting 70, and retirement figures will only increase. Many are taking skills and experience with them that are not easily replaced. Employers are at a crossroads: train younger employees in the same skills, or restructure so those skills are no longer needed?
2. Millennials are taking over the workforce
Boomer-age bosses are already handing over the leadership reins to their Gen X colleagues, and millennials aren’t far behind. According to Hays, Gen Y workers stand out as being ambitious, socially aware, technologically savvy and creative. Their energy is best utilised by giving them responsibilities that will stretch their skills, and the resources they need to work smarter rather than harder.
3. Mobility is becoming more user focused
No one can ignore the proliferation of mobile devices – smartphones, tablets and ‘phablets’ – that seamlessly blend computing with communication. In a strategic technology trends report, Gartner predicts we are entering a “computing everywhere” age, where the focus is no longer on the device itself, but on serving the needs of the user regardless of environment or context. An example is the ANZ Mobile Wallet smartphone payment system, which is poised to launch in early 2015.
4. Outsourcing and freelancing are on the rise
In an increasingly technology-driven business world, it is becoming easier to source low-cost talent through third-party services, such as oDesk and Freelancer.com. On the other side of the equation, 30 per cent of local workers fear losing their jobs to outsourcing – compared to 20 per cent in 2013 – and half of them would take a pay cut to remain employed, according to Greythorn’s Market Insights & Salary Guide 2014/15.
5. Flexible working is entering the mainstream
At the same time, younger workers in particular are seeking flexible work arrangements that will give them a better work-life balance. For employers, it can be an efficient way to share knowledge and tasks among workers. According to the Department of Employment’s Australian Jobs 2014, 30 per cent of Australian workers are currently in part-time roles.
6. Honesty and transparency are in focus
The internet has transformed relationships between companies, brands and consumers. Before choosing a vendor, we can compare offers, check opinions on social media and read online reviews – all in just a few clicks. Social engagement is making traditional advertising platforms obsolete, and we are now in the age of the customer. Consequently, companies must strive to uphold the highest standards of honesty and transparency.
7. Brands are turning into publishers
Google’s Panda update in February 2011 was introduced to help wipe the internet clean of spam – in particular, websites that offered little value to visitors. Successful brands already understood the power of telling captivating, well-crafted stories that centre on the user rather than the product. As of late 2014, more businesses are utilising high-quality, story-driven content that can be adapted across different platforms and targeted at specific market segments.
8. We are becoming omni-channel consumers
Despite the e-commerce boom, people still like to visit the shops so they can see and feel the physical product. According to Zendesk, 60 per cent of Australians used more than one consumer channel – online and offline – to make a purchase in 2013. In 2015, the cloud and big data will allow retailers to further leverage their customer intelligence to deliver a consistent shopping experience across all channels, and to target consumers with more compelling offers.
9. The hybrid cloud will become more popular
There are significant security, performance and flexibility benefits in implementing a cloud-computing architecture that uses both on-premises and remote infrastructure. In line with this trend, Telstra recently announced it will host and deploy VMware’s hybrid cloud service for Australian customers in 2015.
10. Online security is becoming a top priority
Cloud services have also been in the spotlight of late thanks to some major public security breaches. The Internet of Things will mandate that robust security be designed into even the simplest devices. And, accepting that bring your own device (BYOD) is here to stay, businesses are investing in wireless-network infrastructure, with annual demand in 2014 growing just under 10 per cent in the Asia-Pacific region, according to IDC. As a result, businesses will have to work harder than ever to keep their data secure.
From how we shop to how we work, change is in the wind. Is your business ready for the challenges and opportunities of the next 12 months?
Find out who set the trends in 2014 with this list of the year's leaders and visionaries.