Whether you're a multinational organisation or a small business, it pays to have a sense of where the next opportunities and risks lie on the horizon. According to PWC*, the central message of our latest UK Economic Outlook is that the economy is now firmly on the road to recovery and growing at a healthy pace. The services sector is predicted to remain the main engine of UK growth for both output and employment, (as has been the case for the last four years). But, both manufacturing and construction are also now showing positive growth trends. However, concerns over the Eurozone and a slowdown in emerging markets will cause many to remain cautious in the coming year.
There are, however, plenty of trends that businesses could take advantage of in 2015. Here are the top 7:
Use it or lose it: Data Analysis
Successfully utilising data is proven to improve a company's bottom line and can transform businesses. New technologies and devices mean it's possible to gather and analyze information about consumers including their location, preferences, purchasing histories and much more in real-time. In fact, there is now a well established link between improved business insight and company growth and success. It seems that companies are starting to realise that business intelligence (BI) is becoming a valuable source of competitive advantage and even smaller firms are expanding their use of analytics.
Make your mark:
With the growth of the service industry, it pays to find your niche as online goes offline. Not every firm needs millions of customers to be successful and there is a trend towards pop-up shops and restaurants across the country. A highly-personalised niche service can return big rewards through a premium charge. And many smart brands will be brave enough to be honest and confront product or service limitations, and the bravest will partner with other brands to offer creative alternatives they can't.
Deliver (more than) the goods:
Adding to your service offering by delivering (more than) the goods will make the difference. By cramming additional services and added extras into deliveries or delivering to unusual (and mobile) locations are set to establish the trend. For example Pizza Hut in Panama launched Oven Delivery: a delivery service that cooks pizzas whilst they are in transit! You can already tap to summon a taxi and the trend is for a rising numbers of consumers to expect to tap to order just about anything. Get ready for an acceleration of smart-phone delivery innovations.
Made in Britain:
The Government are encouraging more SME's to sell abroad. With small businesses making up 99% of the market, they account for just 12% of exporters which leaves room for enormous growth.
The might of social media:
Virtually every business is linked in some way to social media but many companies see it as a box to tick rather than a tool to exploit. Facebook and Twitter growth in 2014 has boosted SME relationships with customers and suppliers. But both networks are looking for new ways to make money e.g money transfers via tweets. Use of social media could offer many businesses the tools for a variety of transaction and sales opportunities. By continuing to increase your following and enhance interaction and by offering a first rate social after-sales service you really can buy loyalty when mobile and social payments take off.
Keep your workers happy... or risk losing them:
Holding on to good employees can be difficult, especially with the trend for freelance or flexible working steadily increasing. Many bigger companies are now offering innovative perks such as unlimited holiday allowances in an effort to ensure their workforce stays put and is happy, (simultaneously increasing productivity by up to 5%). Additionally, a poorly designed workspace can cultivate frustration and unhappiness. Whether it's the inability to concentrate because of distractions, not being able to find a meeting room or privacy, temperature wars, or even uncomfortable furniture, substandard workspaces can make people miserable.
Digital business is driving change
For businesses to thrive let alone survive in the digital world, they need to invest in customer experience and people. Marketing to people won't be enough in the future, executives will need to create marketing techniques that capture the attention of digital assistants as well as addressing growing consumer interest in mobile commerce and payments such as Google Wallet and Apple's Passbook.
So if you're a business with a flexible project-based workforce, kept happy by perks and great workspaces, with a niche product or service that can be pushed through social media and exported to other countries, then 2015 is the year for you!
* PWC Report: UK Economic Outlook March 2014: Summary report