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Business Trends to Watch in 2016

This is tomorrow! 2016 has arrived, and we are back to work and gearing up to do more great things throughout the course of this year. But before we click ready-set-go, we’ve pinpointed a few trends within the world of small business that we believe will carve out the year to come.

Big Data for Small Business

More and more technology is making science fiction reality. Innovation specialist Craig Rispin of Sydney-based Future Trends Group told the Sydney Morning Herald he was a strong advocate of IBM’s ‘Watson’ –  a jack of all trades super computer that uses natural language processing and machine learning to make sense of unstructured data.

Similar to HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rispin says Watson is capable of answering customer questions, extracting key data from documents and making sense of unconnected, inchoate strands of information. Rispin envisages a whole new line of machine-learning apps which peruse mobile telephone plans, energy bills and insurance contracts, scouring the market for better deals and suggesting alternatives.

Automation Futurist Ross Dawson, who heads Advanced Human Technologies Group, told the Sydney Morning Herald he believes we will see greater automation across retail and hospitality industries. McDonald’s Australia rolled out ‘Create Your Taste’ in 2015, a fully automated touch screen digital kiosk that allowed customers to create their own burger from scratch. Dawson predicts it will be the hospitality who will be the first to deploy robots (Silicon Valley’s Aloft Hotel is run by 3 foot high ‘botlrs’).

Global Business As people work and live in places remotely, there will be a rise in social media apps which link teams and people together globally, notably apps such as Slack and Facebook at Work. “There’s no impediment to starting a business anywhere, which is why we’re seeing new start-ups pop up in a broader spread of regions beyond traditional hub cities. Places like Tasmania, Eastern Europe and New Zealand are now viable,” Jon Tanner, co-founder of technology recruitment firm MitchelLake also told Sydney Morning Herald.

Working Agile Rocketing real estate prices, diverse markets and vastly improved conferencing and communications technology have meant the idea of a “central office” has become outdated. More and more small businesses will have less roots in one specific, company owned physical location, and can operate with teams of individuals located throughout the country and across borders. Virtual Office solutions are adapting and being built out as a solution to this new, increasing agility.

(For information on The Office Space’s Virtual Office services – go here.)

Social Futures In a retro move, the crowded social media marketing turf will frustrate many small business owners. They will take a fresh look at direct mail strategies. That said, many small businesses and startups will begin to see their long-term growth and success in terms of “community building” rather than traditional sales and marketing.

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