Six International Business Trends Expats Need To Be Aware Of In 2016

Business trends often play a very important role in shaping not just the economy of a nation but also the future of any entrepreneur and professional. Every year brings forth its own share of economic surprises, good or bad, which are likely to have a huge impact on businesses across the globe.

Specialists and observers regularly conduct a thorough study of the movements in the market in order to spot any opportunities or threats way ahead of time.A few of them predicted the decline in oil prices that began in the summer of 2014; some also foresaw the significant drop in China’s economic growth towards the end of 2015.

Professionals around the world can of course be severely affected by these changes, but being prepared can help limit loss of investment, and may keep them from making poor career choices. On the positive side, with a little foresight, a person could make a fortune by being in the right place at the right time.

With the start of 2016, experts are sharing their takes on the potential economic movements that could emerge or gain steam this year. Some of the existing patterns are not likely to disappear any time soon, and could get stronger in the near future. Consequently, all these will shape up the commercial world for better or worse. Read on to know more about the six international business trends that expats need to be aware of in 2016.

Man vs. Machine

For years now, there has been a considerable amount of speculation on the phenomenon of machines taking over human jobs. Fortunately, there is no reason for anyone to panic just yet. Even though many processes are becoming automated, people continue to add value. This is because computers aren’t likely to perform jobs that involve high levels of care, empathy, and creativity.

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Nevertheless, it is quite evident that the robotic age is here, and this is indicated by the US$ 1 billion venture capital funding, which for the last two years has been pumped into various types of cognitive technologies. According to projections by analysts, the total market revenue for these solutions is expected to exceed US$ 60 billion by the year 2025.

On the other hand, the evolution of cognitive technology will probably be only another useful tool in the toolbox; while it will be essential for the right application, it isn’t likely to replace the traditional analytical capabilities that come with the human ability to think. Experts predicts that the man-machine dichotomy won’t be an “either/or” situation but rather a “both/and” one.

In the near future, there will probably several ways in which smart people and machines complement each other at work. Of course this means that the leading business entities need to build their cognitive technologies. At the same time, the technologies are incorporated into the existing work processes.

While the transition from the present situation to the combination of people and technology won’t take place automatically, it can be fairly seamless if planned well. It will be necessary for an organization to examine its knowledge-intensive processes, and identify which tasks are best performed by machines and which should involve people. With changes taking place in technology and processes, businesses will have to invest in training and maybe even re-training.

There may be a few professionals who do lose their jobs as a result of this transition. Smart, people-centric organizations should consider these issues in the early stages, so that they can help their employees get ready for a collaborative future involving machines.

Cognitive technologies won’t just have a major impact on global business, but also on society. Given the amount of research, development, and training that is required, it will be at least four to five years before this movement reaches its peak. Industries more likely to be affected include healthcare, retail, and customer service.

Expansion of Analytics

Up until a few years ago, it was rare for an organization to invest in enterprise-levels analytics; most businesses just worked to achieve or improve upon their targeted analytics for a specific area, within a set frame of time. Even this turned out to be quite a challenge for many companies. However, things have changed to a great extent today, and still continue to do so. Economic gurus across the globe are now starting to talk about laying the groundwork for “industrialized analytics” or “analytics transformation”.

Building upon analytics successes in certain discrete disciplines has become important. Furthermore, organizational leaders are implementing several measures to connect these successes and for the creation of a bigger picture. This will further lead to the development of an Insight-Driven Organization (IDO). An IDO doesn’t just stick to the selective use of insights for making decisions on individual aspects of the business. Instead, it adopts a combination of people, processes, strategies, and data, along with technology, for delivering insights across all parts of an organization.

Several business leaders have begun to make decisions as per the IDO future. For example, they now weigh their decisions to build more data warehouses instead of investing in a huge data infrastructure. The main difference between both scenarios is the scope of expectations. Achieving minor analytics victories in specific parts of the business probably won’t be enough in the future. For those who have their eyes on the prize, the connection of analytics capabilities throughout the enterprise is of primary concern.

This trend is expected to have a fairly high impact on all those who are involved in the information technology, marketing, and production businesses. While the expansion of analytics across the enterprise is likely to gain momentum in 2016, leaders believe it will reach its peak in the next three years or so.

Strengthening Cyber Security

This is one of the trends that gained a lot of momentum last year; it is expected to become even more prominent in 2016, as more organizations experience losses due to their security gaps. Lack of adequate cyber security puts the company’s revenue and reputation at stake.

In this day and age, it’s not only data that is at risk of being compromised. Product designs and other types of intellectual property are also vulnerable to sabotage and/or theft. Each day, cyber criminals become more adept at infiltrating off-the-shelf technical systems. Ironically, cyber security often slows down the adoption of other trends that help drive innovation. According to estimates by the International Data Corporation (IDC), US federal government agencies spent more than US$ 14.5 billion on IT security in 2015. It is expected that the financial services industry all over the world will spend close to US$ 27.5 billion on the prevention of fraud and on robust information security measures.

Many organizations are going on the offensive by adopting predictive approaches to various types of threats. This could include an automated scan of the chatter on the internet by individuals and groups that may intend any kind of cyber harm. It also involves the analysis of past breaches and hacks in order to create a predictive pattern. This helps experts envision potential threats that are likely to surface. Some firms also continuously and systematically probe their own defenses to ensure that potential cyber criminals can’t find a hole before they do.

An organization that takes the offensive in fighting cyber crime needs to continuously enhance its capabilities. Unfortunately, not all have the skills or infrastructure for potential threat intelligence or a predictive analysis of past breaches. In such instances, extensive collaboration between cyber professionals and analytics is the very least that is required.

Industries that should focus on this movement include retail, finance, and the federal and state governments. This trend is expected to reach its peak within the next three years or so.

The Internet of Things

Innovation has always been one of the key aspects that transform a business or society. This phenomenon occurs when various factors are considered in order to create a new product or service. The Internet of Things (IoT) has been around for a while, but is quickly evolving from the world of gadgets to creating new business models and influencing of people’s behaviors.

This form of innovation is making waves in both customer-related and business-to-business (B2B) models. According to IDC estimates, the global IoT market is likely to grow from US$ 655.8 billion to US$ 1.7 trillion in just about six years. Around two-thirds of this sector will be made up of devices like modules and sensors.

Fortunately, for many businesses, the infrastructure required for IoT technology is already in place. For example, many car insurance companies now use the customer smart-phone data for “pay as you drive” applications. Certain health insurance providers monitor customer fitness activities through wearable tracking devices and then offer appropriate discounts. To give an example of a B2B service, ships, locomotives, and transport trucks are equipped with various sensor devices as well as GPS. This enables the firm to offer services that analyze movement patterns and optimize routes, before making a suggestion on the best places to fuel up.

Innovations related to IoT are likely to benefit society as well as business houses. With these technologies, transportation is expected to become more efficient. The partnership between a city and its business could result in higher transparency and better economical government services. For example, if garbage trucks were equipped with devices that identify potholes, the municipality of a city could be alerted about them. Parking applications may help drivers save time and energy while looking for open spaces.

Today, several apps provide extra value to people in various fields like fitness and money. Almost every industry can undergo a great transformation or improvement with IoT. Of course, a considerable amount of effort will be required for the development of IoT standards and technologies. With the right investment this trend can reach its peak within the next five years. IoT will have the highest impact on the consumer products, gas, oil, and insurance sectors.

Bridging the Talent Gap

There are over 100 analytics and data science programs available across universities in the US. Yet, many organizations claim to face a lot of difficulty in getting analysts or data scientists with the right education and experience. Studies show that only around 17% of companies and around 74% of analytics innovators have the talent they need.

The IDC has predicted that by 2018, there will be a requirement for more than 181,000 professionals with deep analytical skills in the US alone. They also claim that the need for people with data management and interpretation capabilities will go up by five times that number. Unfortunately, the exact capabilities of a data scientist can’t be defined clearly; different problems will call for different skill sets. Some companies are therefore adopting a multipronged approach. They supplement campus recruitment with alternatives like cultivating in-house talent.

Organizations should work closely with campuses on internship programs and projects for students. These graduates are more likely to be successful at their jobs when recruited.

Analytics talent isn’t always directly employed by organizations that require it; several positions are outsourced to external providers. Nevertheless, smart companies do realize that analytical talent is limited in supply and critical to their success. Those who get serious about preparing a strategic workforce or partnering with an organization that can help them do so are headed in the right direction.

Borrowing from the Sciences

The world of business analytics isn’t exactly a novel idea; businesses have been engaged in this field for a decade or so. However, it is fair to say that analytics is going through a renaissance phase at the moment, which is expected to continue throughout 2016. The changes have been triggered off by big investments and advances in data and technology capabilities. Consequently, business analytics has reached a new level altogether.

Interestingly, major analytical advances haven’t only taken place in the business sector; in fact, the sciences have led a stronger vanguard in this domain. Research labs, universities, and other scientific organizations have been applying and refining analytics to resolve complex problems. They don’t usually refer to their work as analytics; to them, everything is a science.

Cross pollination between business and the sciences can help resolve the challenges most organizations face. This trend has already been put into motion. While the development is still in its nascent stage, there are several signs that sharing of tools, techniques and processes between business and sciences is the path of the future.

Companies that are in the finance, consumer service, marketing, and supply chain industries are most likely to be affected by this trend, which should reach its peak in the next five years.

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