12 Most Disruptive Business Issues for 2012
From a global business perspective, the 21st century is off to an interesting, and somewhat unpredictable start. So much has happened that sometimes the lines blur, and we forget just how far we have actually moved.
The “social” network as we now know it didn’t exist in 2001. The iPhone, which has revolutionized both social and commerce patterns didn’t even exist until 2007. And as we enter 2012 — the Mayan “end of days” — our global economy is hurling us along at a pace that offers up plenty of risk as well as plenty of opportunity. The key is in finding disruptive events or trends and leveraging them to advantage. Here’s a dozen that are worth watching:
1. The localization of global
Businesses are increasingly experimenting in taking traditional global business models and localizing them. Adidas/Reebok is a great example, as they gear up to locally source, manufacture and distribute a $1 sneaker in India. This isn’t “big” business, it’s distributed “social” business.
2. Business as “Big Brother”
Personal information has become the new gold standard. But although we’ve become accustomed to trading personal data for free services (Google/Facebook), we are seeing a shift towards covert, unexpected data collection (as seen in the recent scandal with CarrierIQ, Apple and Droid phones capturing user keystrokes). Sadly, “Business as Big Brother” is a profit center with which many businesses can’t afford to part.
3. The miniaturization of “Big Data”
Big data is shifting from volume to value as we begin to realize the benefit in looking at thousands or millions of micro data points, spotting the trends and seeing a larger picture that we previously didn’t know existed.
4. The extinction of products
Products are going to fade even faster than they appeared. Here’s a good example: DVD’s, GPS systems, wrist watches (I haven’t worn one in 2 years), cameras & video recorders — all fading fast as they become mere apps on our rapidly evolving “less than decade old” smart mobile device.
5. The globalization of economies
This past year has driven home the point that the global economy is a living, breathing animal. And just like an animal, a small thorn in the paw (halfway around the globe) can impact the movement of the rest of the animal. Look for changes in the types and methods of interaction with suppliers, partners and customers.
6. The rise of Asia-PAC
Without the formality of the European nations, the Asia-PAC region has put aside many political, religious and cultural differences to create a de facto Eurozone. Expect economic influence and innovation to increasingly flow from East to West.
7. The fall of the Eurozone
The EU and Eurozone are suffering greatly from policies which forced too much reliance and structure on its members. Watch for increased instability as the viability of the Eurozone, and the EU, is increasingly questioned under harsh economic conditions.
8. The shifting middle class
As traditional economic super-powers are seeing the gap between the rich and poor expand (and the middle class becoming less “middle”), many emerging and second-tier economic powers are starting to build a robust middle class — which could shift global consumption considerably. Great example? Brazil.
9. Politics vs. credit ratings
Who would have thought that the U.S. would see its credit rating questioned, let alone lowered? Watch for increasing polarization of politics impact both our federal and state budgets, ultimately hurting both businesses and consumers.
10. Mobile payments
As we edge closer to 4 Billion mobile phone users, mobile payments will leap to the forefront in 2012. This isn’t a technology issue, by the way — SMS is still one of the most widely used ways to exchange mobile money in emerging markets.
11. Transmedia everywhere
Transmedia — the cross-media narrative art that has revolutionized the entertainment industry — is about to break out big time into the mass market. Look for increased use of transmedia story-telling across multiple markets and mediums, changing the way we market our products to the world.
12. The consumer as boss
Social networking has rapidly given the individual consumer a global voice. A single user with a viral complaint can now dramatically shift regional and global sentiment towards a brand or product. Look for businesses to become more proactive, and increasingly try to cleverly shape user sentiment.
So there you have a quick list of trends and market conditions that are likely to disrupt business in 2012. Are they all sure bets? Not at all. In fact, the most disruptive trend for businesses in 2012 will likely be the increasing trend of unseen disruptive events and unpredictability. Either way, and especially if the Mayan’s are right, it’s going to be an interesting 12 months.
What do you think will disrupt business next year?
Photo is Creative Commons courtesy of ardelfin at morgueFile.com