Digital is king when it comes to running a successful business. Here are some of the upcoming trends for 2017. 

Now more than ever, it is important for businesses to stay on top of digital and technological trends.

The landscape is changing quickly and it is a matter of sink or swim when it comes to running a company of any size.

These are some of the online trends that will be embraced around the world in 2017, not just for the sake of being up to date but to improve efficiency and make room for future growth.

Improvements in mobile and page loading 

A properly performing mobile web page (or advertisement) doesn’t just look pretty. One of the keys to its success is page loading time.

Recently Google shared that 53 percent of users will abandon a page when viewing it on their mobile if it doesn’t load within three seconds.

What’s more, it was projected that publishers whose mobile sites load within five seconds earn up to two times more mobile ad revenue than sites that take up to 19 seconds to load.

The focus for online publishers in 2017 will be on fast page loads. For advertisers and businesses the goal is to create mobile friendly ads that don’t stand in the way of this.  

Local outsourcing 

Australian businesses are outsourcing a growing number of tasks to the local freelance community.

Accounting, tech support, deliveries and even graphic design are all roles that can be outsourced with ease, eliminating the need for a full time headcount.

Businesses can save on desk space, office equipment, holiday pay and more by making the most of freelancers and contractors.

This move towards the access economy is not only saving businesses money. It is creating a culture of ‘side hustlers’ who are turning their hobby or skill into a business and finding clients who need those skills via the internet.

This allows for more flexible working hours and the opportunity to earn money without the need for a locked-down day job.  

Video, video, video

Forbes contributor Ian Altman adds video to his list of business trends for 2017, reminding his followers that “video is becoming a critical source of information.”

He references Forbes research, which shares that 80% of people are watching more video now than a year ago and that 75% watch work related videos on business related websites at least once a week.

The clincher is that Forbes found 65% of people have visited a website after seeing a video posted by that business.

Trending for this year for companies ahead of the curve are 360 degree video and interactive video that allows customers to click-to-buy.

Consumers will also see more integrated calls to action including branded banners on YouTube clips that invite buyers to “Find out more” or “Buy now”.  

Digital payments and digital security 

With customer service being a key focus for 2017, so to is making it easier than ever to pay for goods and services.

The rise of the mobile wallet and the ability to ‘click to pay’ via social media means that customers are expecting ever more convenient ways to part with their money.

The flip side of this is the growing importance of digital security. Major global organisations like Tesco and Groupon have been the victims of hacking scandals in recent times, demonstrating that no business is immune to this kind of crime.

With the continued rise of the Internet of Things, IT and online development teams will be turning their focus to keeping their customers and their business safe from the potentially devastating effects of being hacked.

According to sources referenced by PC Mag, 2017 will be the year “security cements its role as a competitive differentiator”.  

Going paperless… and going email-less? 

Everywhere you look there is a new service that takes your business activities onto the cloud and reduces the need for hard copies of documents.

Apps allow you to snap a photo and create a pdf with text that can be easily searched for, e-signatures are now legally binding, and pay-by-the-month CRM tools let you automatically stay in touch with your customers.

The need for paper is diminishing, which means lower printing, storing and waste removal costs.

This year, another prediction is the evolution away from email.

With cloud based services such as Slack, Evernote, Trello and Workplace by Facebook allowing for multiple group chats, document sharing and personalised news feeds, internal staff are expected to rely less on email in their collaborations.

Fans of these systems say they make communication more efficient and reduce the dreaded inbox clutter.

Upskilling 

You don’t need a university course to build your skills. You don’t even need to show up to a classroom in many cases.

Businesses keen on developing their teams will be investing in custom-made as well as off the shelf e-courses to distribute to their staff in 2017.

Ambitious team members will also be looking to build on their skills by attending webinars and signing up for online courses.

Tech-related courses in particular will be in demand, especially as recent findings showed that 90 per cent of the current workforce will need a basic level of digital literacy by 2022.

Having a successful enterprise doesn’t mean jumping on board with each new trend out there.

The best strategy is to be aware of new developments and to investigate how you can leverage the ones that will be of most benefit to your business.

Looking to start your own business? Check out our article on how to start your own side hustle.

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