Not only will we have a new genertion of consumers, future employees and business owners but we can expect other significant changes in the coming decade. Here’s a quick birds eye view of some of the coming changes we can expect in the way we run our businesses.
Gen Alpha starts now
Babies born during the next 15 years officially belong to the next generation, named Generation Alpha. (That’s because, having used up the end of the Roman alphabet, we are switching to the Greek one.) After years of declining birth rates in the Western world we are set to experience a massive spike, even larger than the post war baby boom. Alphas are going to be the most formally educated in history. “They will begin schooling earlier and study for longer” says social researcher Mark McCrindle. With information overload the established norm they will outpace even Gen Z in being more tech savvy and more materialistic.
Greater input from consumers
“Consumers will have much greater input into product design and development” predicts Jim McKerlie, noted writer and speaker on issues related to privately owned businesses and CEO of digital agency Bullseye. Dell and its IDEASTORM (www.ideastorm.com) is a good example of this in practice. Mass production will be replaced with volume-based personalized production. Consumers will place orders so that they can get exactly the specifications they want, i.e. they will custom order goods or services, much as they did for bespoke goods in the past. This might even result in consumers holding on to goods longer since they will fit their needs better.
Changes in supply chains
Supply chains will probably polarize into those that produce the goods and those that manage the customer relationship. Businesses will need to outsource those functions not core to their business. Knowing your business model and your unique value proposition will be vital to understanding what to manage and protect in-house and what to outsource “Take cars for example,” McKerlie says in Business @100MBS, “a buyer will log on and itemise exactly what make, model, options and colour they want. They may even negotiate the warranty terms, financing terms and service agreements they want, and the respective price adjustments will be made to their order. This is a far cry from the current situation of selecting a car that is in stock or in transit, and then dealing with separate financing and after-market suppliers.”
Product tracking systems
Product tracking systems will be developed that maintain details of a product’s location, usage rates, service history and condition. Post-sale product management could take on a whole new meaning. If a small transmission device was placed within a product which recorded the level of usage then signals could be sent back to the supplier indicating when a product service was due or when the product was nearing the end of its useful life.
Personalisation vs specialisation
Personalisation will replace even specialisation. Look at the music industry where consumers download song by song exactly what they want from a variety of sources and construct their own listening programmes. Niche operators of the future will need to consider how they might compete with this.
Collaborative networks rather than distribution channels
The new social media and tools such as wikipedia are good examples of the way customers will work with businesses to create solutions. This kind of collaboration will improve customer loyalty as well as the customer experience and client service. “The current one-way distribution networks where consumers are provided with information and products according to what producers decide will cease”, says McKerlie.
Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.