123rf10847207 bothWhile revolutionary changes seldom happen overnight, getting ahead of big trends can pay off handsomely. How would you have done had you spotted what was simply a gap and filled it – like enabling people to book rides on privately owned and operated cars using your cell phone?

There are big social, economic, and technological movements that you must consider in your business growth strategies for 2017.

Be sure you have addressed what we see as some of the biggest changes on the horizon. Let’s look the eight major trends we see for next year.

1. Empowerment and enabling people at every level will be your key to success

[quotesright]The old model of centralized decision making and hierarchical command and control is crumbling[/quotesright] before the onslaught of agile competition, rapid prototyping, fast information flows, social network influence, the connected and collaborative mindset of Millennials, new social norms for what constitutes a family and partner roles, along with the obvious global competition and changing ethnic makeup of populations.

Keeping up with the competition means having an engaged, collaborative team who innovates and continually improves their performance because they love where they work and what they do. Achieving those goals will mean adapting to better management strategies of a connected, aware and different workforce from the baby boomers. They are your secret weapon in outgunning and outpacing competitors in a rapidly changing marketplace.

2. Removal of Friction in the Shopping Experience

[quotes]Amazon Go’s no-cashiers, no-checkout store in Seattle is showing what empowered technology is going to do for retailers[/quotes] and others who make the shopping experience seamless: Walk in. Walk out. No lines, no cashiers. No, seriously, check out this Amazon Go Video to see it in action.

3. End-to-end prospect engagement and monitoring

It used to be just counting website visits were enough to measure marketing success. No more. [quotesright]Simple tactics to get people to your site went the way of the carrier pigeon[/quotesright] and getting seen without paying for ads is getting tougher with the changes Google made to right side ads and it’s ranking methods.

[quotes]Today, you’ve got to work a lot harder to get people to your site[/quotes] and once you have them, maximizing your engagement with them will be even more essential than it is now (and it’s darn important right now!) That means not just attracting people but having a set of strategies to get them to give you a way to engage with them and help them smoothly navigate their buyer’s journey from prospect to customer to raving fan.

The tools are there to do it, like Customer Relationship Manages and Marketing Automation but it isn’t easy to build the underlying conversion strategies and supporting content. It can’t be haphazard, it takes planning and ongoing work to make it pay off.

4. Social media will be the place to advertise

[quotesright]With more than 1 billion people active on Facebook and 100 million using Instagram every month, social sharing platforms have the audience, [/quotesright] the engagement, and the targeting information to focus your messaging for effect and cost effectiveness.

With increasingly sophisticated targeting prospects and retargeting those who have visited your site using social media and mobile devices, you’ll need to get smart quickly or hire pros to help you deal with the complexity of ad networks and social marketing options.

5. Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn will expand advertising opportunities

Now that Microsoft has officially ingested, if not yet digested, LinkedIn, already there are priority integrations planned by Microsoft. [quotes]Satya Nadella, CEO, put the following on his “priority list”:[/quotes]

  • Extend the reach of Sponsored Content across Microsoft platforms – This is going to be huge so monitor developments closely. With sponsored content, you can target you audience with the rich profile available from LinkedIn and presumably, Microsoft and the near ubiquitous use of Microsoft software, your ads will reach huge audiences. With Microsoft’s implementation of more artificial intelligence into their products, marketing smart will have a whole new meaning as responses and non-responses, big data, and deep profiles are brought together.
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator will be combined with Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 family of intelligent business application CRM and ERP products to make a seamless end-to-end client engagement and service platform across sales, customer service, operations, finance, field service, service automation, and marketing.
  • Extend the reach of the learning platform Lynda.com and help people develop new skills online.
  • Create a business news desk across MSN.com and its properties.

6. Innovation will accelerate; external collaboration and consultation are essential

Innovation isn’t new, we’ve been at it since our ancestors made it to the slime mold stage. However, today as we emerge from the great recession, the pace of change is accelerating and doing so at an increasing rate.

More people are connected, travel, and exposed to new cultures and ideas while markets are becoming increasingly global and competitors all over the globe are looking to score knockout breakthrough products and new disintermediating services.

[quotes]It’s essential to recognize the dangers and opportunities that a far more connected and aware world offers and tap into your team and other groups for new insights[/quotes] on how you can run your business and better serve your customers. Believing you can take all this on inside without outside points of view will leave you vulnerable to stagnation and obsolescence.

What difference can a new perspective make?  Does anyone remember the almost forgotten use of stevedores to load individual cargo barrels, one at a time on steamships? This short (2 min) video on NYTimes Business makes the point of how one outsider’s point of view upended an entire business supply chain worldwide and revolutionized our lives. It teaches an important lesson: Reaching beyond your walls for people who question your long held assumptions and ways of doing things is invaluable because [quotesright]we only see what we see and we’re looking through a soda straw.[/quotesright]

Of course, you never need to challenge yourself to do better. You can wait for a Malcolm McLean to come along…

7. Artificial Intelligence and Big Data will change how you market, what you build, and where your company adds value

[quotesright]Stand by for a revolution that will displace people in many industries. [/quotesright] Travel agents, ticket takers, cashiers, investment advisors and others will be displaced by powerful learning systems built on top of the Internet and the vast data flowing in every second.

[quotes]Smart is being built in.[/quotes] Big Data and artificial intelligence (AI) will increasingly be used to improve and revolutionize how you find clients, individualize the messages they receive, the way you move them from prospect to customer, and even how your customer service operation works. Even your thermostat is getting brains!

IBM is using its powerful AI Blue Gene technology and big data in marketing to help clients in these areas. IBM reports in THINK Marketing that 64 percent of early adopters of their technology are using it for marketing. Can Google or Facebook be far behind? Be ready for a revolution in targeted, relevant marketing across all channels.

[quotesright]It’s going to be as disruptive as heck and no company will be immune. [/quotesright] What are your plans to lead into an uncertain and ever faster changing world where yesterday’s hot hand is today’s tired old and obsolete phone/thermostat/lamp/job/vehicle/product or service?

8. Video will become essential to prospecting and sales success

[quotes]Increased use of video is the new norm for engaging, informing, nurturing, and converting prospects across the marketing spectrum. [/quotes] People process video about 60,000 times faster than written content.

To rank on Google, you simply must have video on your site, it’s a key factor in your SEO ranking. Do it right and get rewarded with attraction, attention, credibility, and customers. The downloadable infographic in this edition of the newsletter will make you think twice about not using good video in your marketing. See the article in this edition on the topic.

9. Mobile is where it is and where it’s going

Members of the mobile workforce and harried families juggling jobs, kids, and everything else with less and less time are looking at your content and messages on the go. [quotesright]Are your advertising and Internet platforms keeping up? [/quotesright]

[quotes]Mobile friendly and fast-loading sites will be rewarded as never before in search rankings.[/quotes] It’s why video is the new communication tool by delivering your message quickly and memorably to a viewer with the attention span of a fruit fly and the patience of a Marine drill sergeant.

Google already penalizes non-mobile friendly, sites and slow loading sites will find they simply can’t rank in a meaningful way. Their Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) compliant pages get cached at Google so they are served far faster than those who are not using the caching advantage. AMP pages are bare bones and not at all like the full web experience; think core information sparse and devoid of a lot of user interface niceties. Although it’s not for everyone and not all sites can use it, because the 8-ton gorilla, Google, says it’s important…well, you’ll just have to use it or be left out in the cold as competitors who do eclipse your search ranking.

[quotesright]It’s no small point with mobile platform users taking over how content is consumed. [/quotesright]Make sure your marketing and advertising platforms are in sync with the mobile trend.

10. A New Administration takes over in the USA. It appears highly likely there will be a colossal change in direction on offshoring, repatriation of earnings, environmental laws, minimum wage, health care, education and immigration. All spell opportunity as where there is change, there will be opportunities for your business.

What other global trends are important in your industry and how are you doing in keeping up with this seismic shift?