Scorecards and Forecasts: Itís That Time of the Year
Like death and taxes, few things are more certain than the annual January deluge of predictions for the new year’s hottest trends. With all the fun it is to take a stab at predicting the future, I wouldn’t want to exempt myself from such a time-honored tradition. So, I haven’t and I won’t.
In the January 2017 issue of Parking Today, I outlined three social media trends – pay-to-play, employee advocacy and automation – that I expected to take off during the upcoming year. So now that 2017 is done and over with, let’s see how I did!
2017 Social Media Predictions Scorecard
√Off the mark: Automation is the key to survival.
I predicted that tools to help automate social media activities would be a necessity as “social” becomes an even bigger part of the marketing mix and increases in complexity. With “legacy” social sites fading and new social platforms maturing, delivering the right content with the right information at the right time to the right audience is an ever more daunting task. Thus, the need for tools to automate your activities.
From using a third party to schedule posts in advance to personalized curated content perfect for sharing with your network delivered daily to your inbox, automation can help businesses more efficiently and effectively manage their social media.
But my prediction regarding the necessity for social media automation failed to take into account the massive decline in reach of organic (nonpaid) content on social sites as platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as they shift their priorities from growth to profitability. This shift in strategy resulted in the release of new algorithms in 2017 that gave preference to paid advertisements and content with high levels of engagement. This is where automation fails to be all it was promised to be.
While some social media tools facilitate audience engagement, automation tools often remove businesses from direct interaction with their audience on social platforms as they can target and post through a third party without ever visiting the actual social platform. Use of automation in social media didn’t decline or lose utility, but automation wasn’t the be-all, end-all in 2017.
√ In the ballpark: Employees will be your company’s most valuable branding asset.
Here I predicted that companies would increasingly use their employees as brand advocates by encouraging them to share company messages with their networks. Such initiatives have been touted as the way to amplify a company’s message and reach. After all, on average, each employee is connected to 10 times more people than their company alone, according to LinkedIn data.
This prediction wasn’t exactly inaccurate; it was a bit ahead of its time. Employee advocacy has been a buzzword for a few years now, but, as with all great things that require change, it takes time. We are really just seeing employers instituting formal programs to engage their employees on social media.
√ On the mark: Pay-to-play becomes a necessity.
My final prediction of 2017 was that as organic reach declines and social media platforms focus on monetization, paid social media will no longer be optional to have the same exposure brands had in the past for free. This is the slam-dunk win of my predictions.
2018 Business Trends Forecast
To reflect my column’s subject matter expansion over the last year, I decided not to limit 2018 predictions to just social media trends. Instead, this year I took a step back and considered macrotrends that affect all aspects of business, the economy and society.
When I sat down to write this column, I outlined a number of predictions regarding the adoption of emerging technologies, the up-and-coming, most in-demand products and services, and the highest potential growth industries.
But a common theme runs throughout these predictions, which led me to the conclusion that 2018 will be a very big year. It will be the year we bring it all together.
Convergence Is the New Innovation
With technology impacting every industry, where everything and everyone are connected, boundaries that used to be clearly delineated are now blurred. It is no longer a given where one industry’s expertise ends and another’s begins; where one product’s functionality stops and another’s starts; or where one technology’s capabilities max out and another’s is needed.
It used to be that you could see your competition from a mile away. You could prepare for it. Whether you improved a product’s functionality or reduced your time to market, businesses had the time and wherewithal to react.
Today, however, disruption is the name of the game. Challengers outside the traditional boundaries of an industry, product or technology are often the biggest threat. It’s much harder to see these guys coming.
Let’s Get Down to Basics: The 5 W’s of Convergence
Who? Every person in every organization in every industry. Those are who will be affected by convergence. Certain products, industries and technologies will see greater impacts than others, and those that deal with transportation/mobility and financial services/payments are at the top of the list.
What? Convergence refers to the integration of products, technologies and industries that lead to new, innovative and unique products, technologies and industries. We have seen convergence have a dramatic impact on business in the past.
Way back in the day, people used to visit a bakery to buy bread or a butcher to buy meat. But where do they go now? Today, we are far more likely to make it a one-stop-shopping event with mega-retailers such as Amazon, Walmart and Costco. We have convergence to thank for that.
Where? Geographically, everywhere. The world is a small place, and thinking you can escape this trend is futile.
When? Now, or even yesterday, or the day before that, or the day before that …
Why? Connectivity has reached a critical tipping
point. Consumers no longer want “silo-based” apps or services. They want end-to-end solutions that provide a seamless experience.
To meet such demands, businesses must shift their focus from the limitations of traditional boundaries that we associate with individual products, technologies and industries to the opportunities of incorporating peripheral products or tweaking functionalities for new applications. Convergence represents the single most fundamental growth opportunity for organizations today.
Convergence generally manifests itself in the form of a collaborative partnership or acquisition that will create new business opportunities (including new business models) and promote growth.
Next month’s Modernization column will delve further into how convergence — including product, technology and industry convergence — will impact the parking industry. This is too relevant a topic for us not to explore how we, as an industry, can use convergence to better not only meet the needs of customers, clients and consumers, but also provide enhanced benefits such as more sustainable and efficient solutions.