Top Business Trends 2017

As the curtains are drawn on the dusk of 2016, and you turn another year over, your mind is shrouded with overwhelming thoughts of the year that was, the catches and the misses. The accomplishments that were and the opportunities that didn’t. There is an excitement of the the optimism for the times ahead and anxiety of the uncertainty that lies ahead. As you deal with the mixed bag of feelings, you wish you were in control, strongly wish you were aware of the dawn that lies ahead – all so that you could sharpen your focus, tweak the strategy and execute against that strategy.

Here is a list of the top business trends that would shape the the course of 2017, maybe disrupt the eco-system and define contours of businesses for 5-7 years thereafter. Their importance is not reflected by the order in which they appear.

1. Fitness and Wellness

The awareness for a healthy living is catching up fast, and hence the consciousness of the implications of exercise on health, energy levels and longevity. No wonder that 1 out of every 5 people is already heading to a gym or a fitness club. Globally, over 151.5 million members are subscribed to more than 186,000 health clubs, contributing to $84B in revenues, and growing steadily.

Globally people are taking fitness and wellness seriously. This necessitates professional help. There is hence demand for professional services ranging from medical practitioners, to gym trainers, to aerobics coaches, to dieticians. There is a huge demand for speciality sports-goods and sports-wear, accessories, food supplements, energy drink, etc. There is also a growing market for fitness trackers, fitness wearables and even the mobile apps.

As a consequence there are enormous possibilities in the segment. From infrastructure development/ management, enrollment, personalized services, sportswear and sports industry, and finally fitness trackers. There are significant opportunities for technology or consulting services in improving the reach, providing actionable insights and collaboration across the different user interfaces etc.

2. Infrastructure

Across economies, infrastructure would vie for the highest attention in the budget. More so in the developing economies. It could range from roads, to rail, to high-speed rail, to airports, to healthcare to technology infrastructure to plenty of other options. 2017 would witness significant investments opportunities in infrastructure expansion, or augmenting safety supplements. With emerging technologies, there is a huge demand for leveraging such to deliver better value to the users, as well as to governments. The sector consumes wide array of services and products, and hence would be a significant business opportunity across wide ranging interests.

3. Payment

The Payment industry involves a complex landscape of acquirers, issuers, payment gateway among others. With demand for faster and simpler architecture and advances in the eco-system there have been different adaptations in the payment industry. As a result, the payment industry is forecasted to grow at 6% CAGR for the next 5 years. The payment industry is being disrupted broadly across the following areas:

  • User Experience – With evolution of technologies, there has been a significant improvement in the front end experience for retailers and customers. From mobile point-of-sale, to contactless technologies e.g. wallets – established technology players as well startups are coming around with disruptions in the market. From the likes of Apple, Google, Samsung to startups like PayTM – there is a huge interest in the space.
  • Payment Infrastructure Integration – Many retailers have extended the social media landing sites to payment infrastructure. This demands a adoption of more appropriate technologies. Given the wide acceptance of digital channels globally, the B2B as well as B2C businesses are expected to expand into such channels. This presents opportunities to review and revamp the payment integration.
  • Data & Insights – The kind of data being generated across different transactions and across wide array of media is mind-boggling. This offers the providers the opportunity to study the buying behaviors and hence position products/ services at the precise time and location where they are most likely to buy, or offering the most personalized experience. There are significant opportunities of sharp-segmented campaign, and hence up-sell / cross-sell opportunities. The question is whether as an enterprise, are you leveraging available applications or technologies to draw actionable insights, and in turn are you mining your installed base effectively?
  • Security – A strong impediment for payment infrastructure, both existing as well as newer ones is the security backbone. More so for the ramifications due to the capital involved. While the current security infrastructure involves any or a combination of Password, PIN and OTP, the question for security specialists is whether this is future ready, or can this be further simplified – for instance using leveraging biometrics?
  • Emerging Possibilities – Refrigerators are being designed that can manage their inventory of consumables like milk, cheese etc where they can manage the payments by themselves. Likewise, Smart Meters of the future would be programmable to manage the power consumption and also settle payment with the provider. This is redefining the contours of technology. These and likewise developments will require newer protocols for instance Bitcoin transaction protocol – Blockchain an industry standard. The question is are you anticipating the trends and is there an opportunity to disrupt?

The other opportunities which one could look forward to would be in the following segments

  • Domestic Payment infrastructure modernization
  • Transformation opportunities to address Cross-border Payments inefficiencies
  • Customer Experience Opportunities that could disrupt the Payment landscape
  • Need for Transformation in eco-system due to Digitization in Payments/ Retail Banking  

4. Information – Communication – Entertainment

With penetration of smart-phones and tablets, and increasing bandwidth the way we consume content – news or entertainment – has changed dramatically in the last several years. And the change would continue to happen, and with an an urgency witnessed never before. These demands present both challenges and opportunities for the content publishers or the broadcasters. More viewers want the content in streaming rather than on their TV sets – driving the astronomical growth of streaming services. All these and others are posing newer challenges, and opportunities for innovation. For instance

  • Abridged versions of media – in the 5-10 min range that can be streamed from YouTube
  • Unprecedented interactivity and inclusivity between content developer and the consumer, thereby driving creation of personalized content
  • Internet of Things providing a platform for different devices to ‘speak’ to one another. For instance, wearables as a mode to engage with multiple devices be it at home, or on the go.
  • Leveraging data generated through multiple devices to provide a razor-sharp personalized experience
  • Success of Amazon and Netflix leading to scale-up alternate channels, or potential disruptions
  • Gaming industry has adapted successfully with the advances in the smartphone eco-systems. There are tremendous opportunities for personalized content for target audiences. Also, there is an opportunity to address a new segment enabled through the smartphone platform.

The questions you need to be asking as a publisher, broadcaster or a service provider are – how are you trying to differentiate considering the above changes in the eco-system? Or, what are the changes you are envisaging, hence what are the investments you are making to beef up capabilities ahead of the change?

5. Green Energy

Given the limited reserves of the carbon fuels and their cost, there is an increasing dependence on green energy, also called renewable energy globally. As per US Energy Information Administration, Renewables account for 13-14% of the total electricity generated and this is steadily increasing, expected to be about a fifth of the total by 2040. Of the renewables wind and solar together contribute highest to the current base of renewable energy. Solar is growing at the fastest rate while Wind is expected to be the largest constituent by 2040. 

According to The Climate Group, Renewables would constitute just under 60% of added capacity over the next 25 years, with over 3,000 GW of this to be solar. The study also suggests a five-fold increase in onshore wind, a 24-fold increase of utility scale solar PV, and a 25-fold increase in off-shore wind in the forecast period.

Per EIA estimates, of the growth globally, Asia in general and India and China in specific will account for 56% of the total growth. That would call for installing/ expanding capacity, and a supporting infrastructure which includes a technology infrastructure, to help improve efficiencies and customer experience.

Other opportunities would be around smart-grid, business transformation to address emerging scenarios and professional services to match the advances.

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