So where will these opportunities be? Below are my thoughts on the six trends that are likely to continue growing and developing in 2019, and where businesses can act accordingly.
1. Change and uncertainty are the new normal
Each year seems to bring with it more unexpected developments than the last, to the point where change and uncertainty have become the only things we can be sure of. 2019 looks certain to continue in much the same way. The companies who survive these unpredictable conditions will be those who are able to react swiftly – either to seize new opportunities in the market, or to mobilize quickly once uncertainty crystallizes into decision time.
Agility comes through maintaining visibility and insight over all areas of your business. What are your business drivers? Where are you able to grow quickly? Which processes can you optimize? The businesses who can answer these questions without delay will be the ones who will weather the storm of change and uncertainty in 2019 and beyond.
2. Digitization doesn’t have to be earth shattering
Discussion around digitization often conjures up imagery of smart algorithms, robotics, or blockchain. But companies don’t need to invest in blockbuster technologies to experience the benefits of digitization – in a lot of cases, it can pay to start small.
Many companies are still relying on Excel spreadsheets to inform core areas of their business. In these cases, digitization could simply mean centralizing business processes onto one platform and gathering intelligent insights. Make no mistake – digitization needs to happen, but businesses need to be pragmatic about what that will look like for them.
3. To get ahead in 2019, invest in tech before you need it
We increasingly see a common factor that links fast-growth companies together – the fact that they have the right technology to hand when they need it. This sounds simple, but those who are ready to grow, and grow fast, are those that had the foresight to invest in technology before they needed it.
Mapping out your initial technology investment for the first year of business is important, but it’s those who can foresee which technology they will need to support growth in their second, third, and fourth years who go on to thrive the most.
4. International growth looks to new markets
Technology is making the world smaller, and it has never been easier (or more profitable) to take your business to new international markets. As uncertainty lingers around certain regions, we will see different markets come to the fore. China and the US will remain of interest, but we will also see other Asian markets, such as Vietnam, become increasingly appealing.
However, it won’t be as easy as flicking on a switch. Companies will need to invest in a technological backbone to continue seamless operations across different locations, currencies and regulations. And it will become even more important to maintain transparency and insight across their entire operations.
5. Think carefully about how you take on Amazon
Amazon’s reach touches virtually every business that has something to sell. For most, tackling Amazon head-on is not a viable option. It’s an entity of its own, enhanced by its growing B2B marketplace. For a smaller business, going head to head with Amazon verges on the impossible.
Instead, companies need to look at what they can offer that is unique in comparison. Ideally, this should be in line with the interests of the target audience. For example, if a company’s customer base is made up of an older demographic, it would be worth offering customer service on accessible platforms, such as a personalised phone support service.
6. Automation in professional services will grow significantly
Companies are increasingly looking to Professional Services Automation to enhance their efficiency and profitability, and we will see this trend gather even more momentum in 2019.
Many of the challenges companies will face in 2019 – staying competitive in an increasingly tough business environment, navigating changing market conditions – can be addressed through integration, automated processes, and meaningful business intelligence. Professional services organizations who can harness the power of PSA will go into 2019 with a substantial competitive edge over those who aren’t.
Ultimately, regardless of any challenges the year might bring, the right strategy can help businesses turn 2019 into a year of opportunity and growth. The important thing is to remain flexible and agile, whether that’s through technology investments or simply through sharpening up your planning and decision making. Businesses that want to prosper in 2019 must make sure they are prepared to take advantage of the many opportunities ahead.