In addition to identifying areas of emerging technology, the Advisory Board reviewed key trends, examining current articles, papers, interviews, and published research to discover patterns that are affecting business and industry. The Advisory Board listed the five trends described here as those most likely to have a significant impact on small to medium businesses over the next five years. They are presented in priority order as ranked by the Advisory Board.
- Employees increasingly expect to be able to work flexible hours and to work from locations other than an office building. In today’s global marketplace, colleagues and customers may be located anywhere in the world, and round-the-clock service is a requirement for any international organization. A central office is not necessary in many industries; knowledge workers simply require reliable Internet access and a computer, both of which can be established at home or even on the road. This shift in business practice, supported by communications technologies and the Internet, is leading to increased choice for employees when it comes to where and when they work.
- Modern consumers expect that the content in which they are interested will be available in a variety of different forms. The transaction between consumer and producer does not end when a purchase is made. Whether the item is a toy, a book, a movie, an appliance, or a piece of clothing, consumers are buying not only the physical item itself but also a spot in the community of that item, including content on the Internet, television, mobile devices, and even in other products. A child interested in the Transformers looks for them in all of these places: on websites, on his phone, in his games, and on his lunchbox and clothing. Marketers must be ready to create webs of content that support the consumer’s interest.
- Gaming is an increasingly universal phenomenon among those entering the workforce. In a 2008 survey of youth ages 12-17 by the Pew Internet and American Life Project (http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/263/report_display.asp), it was found that young people have a great deal of experience with gaming. Further, this experience is rich and varied, and includes opportunities for social interaction and civic engagement. Understanding the kinds of experiences that young people are having through playing games is crucial to designing work environments in which they feel empowered and can excel.
- Increasing globalization continues to affect the way we work, collaborate, and communicate. As noted above, the flattening world is changing business practice. Similarly, globalization is altering our interactions at every level: communication with friends, family, coworkers, and clients; the ways we collaborate with others; and the ways we manage our personal workflow. From almost-instant turnaround on questions through email and mobile devices, to jointly-authored proposals hosted in the cloud, we have almost immediate access to the people and files we work with, wherever they may be located.
- Technology is increasingly a means for empowering employees, a method for communication and socializing, and a ubiquitous, transparent part of their lives. For many employees, and especially for knowledge workers, technology mediates both social and business relationships and facilitates time management. Gradually, attitudes are changing; organizations that once blocked communications technologies such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and instant messaging services are beginning to appreciate the role of such services in maintaining employee productivity. Technology tools give employees the ability to find answers, do research, consult with their peers, and keep abreast of current trends.
Posted by NMC on September 29, 2009