It’s always good to plan ahead in business. But when it comes to the future, can you say with all honesty that you are actually prepared? Given that technology, trends, and consumer habits are changing more often than the seasons these days, it’s essential that your company is able to move with the times – and beyond. But what, exactly, can you do to future proof your business for the days to come? We’re going to take a look at the key areas you should be looking at right now – so read on to find out more.
Understand your people
Business owners live in a strange time at the moment. On the one hand, you might have lots of employees who are approaching the end of their careers, supported by up and coming youngsters. Needless to say, the millennials you employ will have an entirely different approach to work – and ways of working, in fact – than their older peers. And it is essential that you have an understanding of the changes this could bring in the next ten years. Once the millennials in your firm start replacing the retirees, it’s going to make a difference in a multitude of different ways, and now is the time to start listening.
By now, the chances are that you will have a company website up and running. But that is not enough these days. Mobile now accounts for a lot more than half of all searches, and that number is rising each year significantly. A decade from now, you can put your house on the fact that searches – not to mention purchases – from desktop PCs will be in the vast minority, so make sure you are investing in mobile-friendly presentation and technology.
The Internet of Things
The IoT – or Internet of Things – has been banging on the door for many years now. It’s fair to say that we haven’t quite seen what it can offer as of yet, but make no mistake about it – it’s not going to be long before this technology is in use in virtually every area of life and business. We are still in the early days, but the connectivity, applications, and communication possibilities are all too important for businesses of any kind to ignore. And if you aren’t thinking about how the IoT could benefit your business now, when it explodes as everyone knows it will, you could end up in the fallout.
Go Big on Data
You’ve probably heard a lot about Big Data. For now, though, unless you are a huge enterprise, it’s not likely to have much impact on you or your company. Again, Big Data is a relative newcomer, which can often cause more problems than it is worth. When you are mining such enormous amounts of information on everything from your customer’s buying habits to their favorite pop group, it can be impossible to manage. But, while businesses large and small are struggling to understand how they can use data to their advantage, the reality is that we are not far away from a ‘Eureka!’ moment. And when it occurs, you can bet your life that you need to be able to take advantage, or you will miss out on the competition.
Take inspiration from open source technology
The world of open source has given us some incredible technology. But many companies are afraid to embrace it because of the simple fact there is no money in it. While it’s easy to see why – what’s the point in creating technology that your competitors can use? – the basic premise of being open means that you can be a lot more flexible in your thinking. By creating products that are able to integrate with other technologies, for example, you will give your customers more choice. You will also be able to evolve as your client’s pain points change.
Always think further than your core product
You might have a core product or two that keeps your business ticking over and in good shape. But the reality is that in the future, consumers are likely to want something more than you are currently giving them. It’s vital to look at other ways of giving them an experience, rather than just selling them a product, or you could get left behind. History is full of companies that failed to move with the times, and as a result ended up dead in the water. Think about Blockbuster failing to understand the impact of streaming, or Kodak failing to digitalize their offering fast enough, despite the fact they were the company that invented the technology. So, as a final point, always look beyond what you sell, and try and foresee what you can offer as an experience.