Thirteen trends for successful business leaders in 2013

Here are our top thirteen predictions for 2013:

1.It’s going to get more personal: Social media is no longer a fad, senior leaders have realised that they can not ignore this powerful trend and companies are fast learning how to embrace having a dialogue with their customers rather than just pushing products.

2.Marketing communications will matter less: Partnering with customers will increase as a trend. We see crowdsourcing and in particular fundscourcing (the activity of asking customers to invest in your products and ideas before they are even developed – see the hotly anticipated Peddle) increasing dramatically in 2013. Customers will increasingly buy from companies they have a vested interest and partnership in. In addition rather than taking notice of product push marketing comms customers will be more swayed by peer reviews. Communications that focus on creating an emotional connection (See John Lewis’s excellent Christmas Advert that captures the true essence of what marketing comms needs to be in the new world of work)

3.Sharing value will become a competitive advantage: Creating shared value is a term coined by Harvard Prof and strategy guru Michael Porter. The concept involves examining the entire value chain to determine where more value can be created for all parties involved (including broader society) rather than just focusing on the end results of profits. Companies like Nestle and GE are using the concept of CSV to build competitive advantage. We predict more leaders will become aware of this paradigm shift in business models and a new wave of economic productivity and growth will emerge.

4.Customers will pay more for authenticity: Leadership in a connected world places a higher premium on and rewards authenticity. The Internet ensures that if you’re inconsistent, you’re going to get caught out. Businesses have never been more transparent, the war for talent and valuable customers will increasingly be won in 2013 by companies and leaders who are authentic.

5.3D printing will race towards our homes: Three years ago we predicted that by 2015, 3d printers would cost £35o and that many homes would have one. Today the cheapest 3D printer already costs £350 (so this trend is happening even faster than we anticipated, although to be fair a decent one still costs more the £2000). The innovations that 3D printers or digital fabrication are creating will revolutionise our lives. In the not too distant future we will be able to print out our children’s scribblings as 3D toys and even print houses

6. Machines will become smarter and more connected: Combine Moores Law, massive increases in storage and broadband speeds with the capabilities of sophisticated algorithms and machines will become much “smarter” in 2013. Add the rapidly growing Internet of Things (there are already more objects connected to the Internet than there are people living on our planet) providing a deluge of unstructured and useful information and machines will increasingly become more intelligent and even predict events before they happen.

7. Cars will make us better drivers:  The cost of automobile accidents in the US totals $300 billion annually. the cost of traffic congestion is estimated to be $100 billion. Together these costs equal 2.6% of GDP. As a result innovations in driverless cars will surge forward in 2013. Most large motor manufacturers will experiment or launch driverless prototypes, this is a trend that is set to boost the economy and productivity. Think of all the extra time you will have to work on that report, play with your children or read that exciting book as your car drives you safely to your next destination. Come on driverless cars! Top tip invest in companies offering track day driving experiences.

8.Shale Gas will revolutionise energy and competitive advantage: “The shale-gas revolution in America has been as sudden and startling as a supertanker performing a handbrake turn. A country that once fretted about its dependence on Middle Eastern fossil fuels is now on the verge of self-sufficiency in natural gas. And the news keeps getting better. This week the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that the United States would become the world’s largest oil producer by 2020, outstripping Saudi Arabia and Russia” say The Economist We predict growing support for shale gas fracking although Europe with it’s more liberal environmental laws will lag behind the US and China resulting in a disproportional competitive advantage to locally based industries in those companies benefiting from plentiful lower cost energy.

9.Augmented Glasses will begin to replace smartphones: Innovations like Google Glasses are being developed to provide a seamless augmented reality experience. Expect many other product  providers to jump onto this band wagon. We predict smartphones will soon be integrated into our eyewear. This technology is a few years off but sports and lifestyle wear company Oakley has already developed augmented reality skiing goggles.

10. We will take giant strides towards singularity. The point at which humans and computers become one creating superhuman intelligence is still several decades off but the signs of human and computer integration will become more visible in 2013. Today most of us are joined at the hip to our smartphones. Many of us can’t even visit the bathroom without taking our smartphones with us, which is why we believe that video phones will never really take off. We don’t actually want to know where exactly you are! But joking aside, devices are becoming more integrated into our daily lives, uploading data on our whereabouts and behaviour real time to the cloud. From Nike+ that monitors your daily activity and uploads the information realtime via an App on your phone to our ability to measure sugar levels, heart rates and blood pressure using our smartphones and little embedded sensors in our bodies ensures that bit by bit computers are become more within our daily activities.

11. We are getting older and more single: In 2013 there will not only be an expanding demographic of singles proper, but fewer people will be marrying, and those who do get hitched will do it later, with half such unions ending in divorce. Society is at a tipping point where being single – or some variation on the theme, for at least a proportion of one’s adult life – is becoming the norm, being married the aberration.

12. Women and more feminine values will play a greater role in business. There are already more female managers in the US and more women employed in formal and informal businesses than men in the world. Increasingly woman will find greater representation in boardrooms. Much of this trend is being driven by the sentiment that the collapse of Lehman Brothers would not have happened if it had been Lehman Sisters! Business is in need of embracing more feminine values like empathy, intuition, generosity, nurturing and family. 2013 will increasingly see these values playing a greater role.

13.  The next space race heats up:  Commercial space travel and exploration is fast becoming a reality, and a new space race is hotting up. We expect  Virgin Galactic to commence with space tourism towards the end of 2013 and developments for a manned mission to Mars and a permanent base on the moon becomes more of a reality than science fiction.

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