The world is changing rapidly.  People are becoming more interconnected than ever.  Information is increasingly easier and cheaper to come by.  Whether it's texting, social media, emailing, faster logistics, or finding information on the internet, it all leads to one thing, making a faster paced and more competitive business environment.  Here are some top trends in business that are already happening but will play a significant role in the future.

The biggest change has to deal with the increasing lines of immediate communication and access to information.  According to this article by Business Week magazine, the consumer is starting to become the biggest competitor of many retailers.  With apps such as Google Shopper, which allow you to scan barcodes of items to shop the competition, read reviews, and learn about an item, stores are having an increasingly difficult time selling their merchandise.  Stores are starting to become places where people just browse to see what they want.  After, they can go home or to other stores, often times wholesalers and buy the products at a discounted rate.  Stores must therefore have to contend not only with their direct competition, but their own vertical supply chain.  Think of Costco which was originally meant to be a wholesaler for local retailers.  Now many people have their membership cards and shop there regularly for the best deals.  Sure, lower prices are great for the consumers and competition is always encouraged, but what happens to customer service and your local stores when there margins are completely undercut?  How will small communities survive?

Continuing on the information trends, social media is becoming a large part of our daily life and an increasingly bigger area of personal marketing to consumers.  Facebook and Twitter immediately come to mind when this subject comes up, as this trend is hidden by no means.  With these sites, information on preferences, friends, and everything you can think of is saved to create a more personalized marketing campaign.  20 years ago marketing to a segment was vague, i.e. retirees, teens, women, men.  Now? It's very niche, i.e. 19-21 year-old men whose favorite sport is kayaking.  What is interesting though is the simultaneous requirement by consumers for more personalized products.  As consumers gain easier access to the products they want, the quality must go up and the price down as a decision between which kayak to buy has now gone from one retailer to five.  This personalization actually contradicts the trend above as wholesalers base their margins off of volume of sales, while personalized products, by virtue of what they are, cannot be entirely mass produced.  This gives smaller niche businesses an opportunity to capitalize on customers desires, selling products with higher margins that are not worth the effort of the large corporations.

The last trend is for businesses to consolidate or become quasi government institutions.  When companies are looking to go abroad, the hardest part is making/finding the connections to make the leap.  Many companies and governments are realizing that by teaming up both organizations benefit.  The government creates growth and prosperity in its country, while the business becomes acquainted with the biggest natural networking organization in the country.  Governments are in a natural place to exporters and importers with their complements in other countries.

All of these trends are changing the business landscape of the future.  The question is, can you and your company capitalize on them?

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