Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fast Forward to Next Year's Trends

Looking for what will be hot in 2012?  A recent article in Entrepreneur highlighted ten trends that will shape business next year,  and for website and software developers it would seem the sky’s the limit as nearly each trend has technology implications.

More and more we are relying on information, feedback and recommendations from others to help us in our decision-making,  Knowledge is power.  In a 2010 study it was found that 62 percent of online retail shoppers think product recommendations are useful.  With sites offering recommendations on products, restaurants, decision-making does become easier. So how can you tap into this trend?  At minimum, ask for referrals and make sure your testimonials are front and centre on your website.

Collaborative commerce speaks to the increase in businesses interested in sharing, bartering, lending and renting goods, skills, money, space or services. Take Getaround, it’s a social car-sharing service that enables a car owner to make money by renting out their car when it is not being used.  Or TaskRabbit which is like an eBay for errands.   What services do you need?  Is there someone you can barter with?  We actually will be talking about collaboration at our January Oakville dinner.

 More and more customers are wanting products customized to their needs and they are willing to pay for these special orders – be it chocolates, shoes and jewelry.  Closer to home, Megan Barnes with her customized play mats for children can testify to this growing trend, with orders flooding in from all over the world for her product.

New electronic devices, like the tablet, give people mobility and make it easier to work from home or while on the road.  Any applications that can further increase their productivity will be successful in the year ahead. Are you accessing useful apps on your mobile phone?  Consider checking out what is available to you.  You might be surprised.

Today resources are available to foster creativity and help creative artists sell their wares.  Websites like Etsy, an online marketplace for direct-from-the-artist crafts clocked up $314 million in sales last year.  While other sites like sell in-person lessons on everything from guitar to gardening and with Blurb, authors can self-publish bookstore quality books or produce photographic journals.  

The push for food grown locally is growing. As a society we are more concerned about what we eat and what we put into our bodies. With urban farming, people in cities are converting their back yards into vegetable gardens; public places are being developed to include community gardens; and local farmers markets are turning into social gathering spots where the community collects and supports its local farmers.

The popularity of social gaming devices has been ever growing, but gamification is actually looking at “how to use game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging.” explains Nathan Landes, founder of Gamify, which has developed a product that allows individuals and brands to gamify their own virtual space.
 Simplicity and authenticity are the current driving forces behind design. It is about moving back to basics. Several websites are marketing design products.  With the increased interest in industrial design,  the Rhode Island School of Design, is equipping its graduates with “artrepreneur starter kits”  in preparation for this growing market.

High intense boot camps proved more popular this year compared to fitness centres where people join but never go.  Software designers are also capitalizing on this extreme fitness, developing boot camp apps that let its users develop their own circuit training workout.

With unemployment at an all time high, online tools such as LinkedIn are linking people to jobs through social media.  Entrepreneur reckons “the employment support sector is rife with opportunity.” New software apps, for example, are being developed to make it easier for job-seekers to post their resumes on numerous job sites at the same time.

Regardless of your business or industry, if you are not online, don’t have a website presence or are not taking advantage of all the new software and apps out there, you may well find yourself on a desert island. 

One fast growing trend for sure is that technology is changing faster than anything, and now is the time to get on board.

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