10 business trends for 2017

City at sunrise
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

3 February 2017

As world economies begin to stabilise after a period of geopolicitical uncertainty, Eleanor O'Neill sums up the business trends set to keep climbing in 2017.

1. Optimistic entrepreneurs

UK business confidence saw a small uptick in December 2016, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Small business owners could see higher levels of investment as a result and Close Brothers reported that, despite uncertainty surrounding the UK's economic outlook, 51% of SME owners expect their business to grow in 2017.

2. Crowdfunded SMEs

Crowdfunding platform Crowdcube became the first in the growing industry to process over £200m of investment in startup businesses at the end of 2016.

The World Bank has estimated that the value of online alternative financing will reach $90bn by 2020 but others seem confident that the potential exists to reach that level this year.

3. Technology startup slowdown

The startup fever in the technology industry may begin to cool down in 2017 due to a number of high-profile business failures, including GoZoomo and Bonafide.

However, artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, digital transformation and augmented/virtual reality are areas that will likely still attract attention.

4. On-demand businesses

The conversion to mainstream and seemingly exponential growth of companies like Uber, AirBnB and TaskRabbit has defined a consumer base for on-demand models.

Momentum for crowdsourcing is now starting to build in the B2B and corporate spaces for innovation and product development platforms.

5. AI in small business

While big names have been making use of artificial intelligence applications for some time, the improvement and more widespread use of the technology opens up the possibility to smaller enterprises.

AI and machine learning have uses in customer service, marketing and automating processes.

Business development

6. Bigger and better Internet of Things (IoT)

Now the IoT is well-established as a valuable resource in industry as demonstrated by EY, we can expect to see some refinement start to take place.

Optimising analytics, data processing and effective implementation may receive a significant level of attention in the near future.

7. E-commerce growth

The diversification of online retail into open-source platforms like ePages and Shopify has saturated the global e-commerce market. Cloud-based solutions are slated as the next stage of development for businesses of all sizes.

8. Millennial leaders

The millennial generation are poised to take over the majority of managerial and, to a lesser extent, executive positions over the next few years.

Workplace practices are evolving to reflect the changing face of the workforce.

9. The 'paperless office'

Secure online and cloud-based file storage and distribution software is beginning to remove the need for hard copies of documents and business materials. Tax administration is also going digital.

10. Digital wallets

Online payment options have been popularised by the likes of Apple and Google, and businesses that embrace the web-based economy have a distinct advantage.

However, these new payment methods may now require further cybersecurity development.


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