One of the best ‘Trends' lists I've found this year comes from an article entitled '30 Big Ideas, Trends and Predictions for 2012,' from U.S.-based site BusinessNewsDaily.com. Author Cynthia Bunting surveys a wide spectrum of companies and experts to winnow out the new year's biggest ideas and opportunities.
To give you a taste, here are seven of my favorite ideas from the 30 dug up by Bunting;
Microsoft envisions an interactive landscape that involves touch and gesture recognition, as well as voice input. (Microsoft has already slipped this functionality into its Xbox Kinect, where your body is the onscreen controller.)
Get prepared to shell out for cyber-insurance
When it comes to data breaches, says Bunting, "small businesses are as exposed as and, at times, even more exposed than large businesses."
Proximity-based social networks
These will allow you to identify like-minded individuals close to you at any time. "As you ride a bus or attend a seminar, your smartphone will identify individuals nearby you should probably know. Our smart devices will thus evolve to become a way to meet new people in real time, taking networking, hiring, marketing, dating and other human-to-human interactions out of the Stone Age and into a new and much-more-efficient era."
Look for more companies that consolidate small- and mid-size businesses into larger entities. "Baby-boomer business owners that want to exit their companies will have few other viable options than to sell out to rollup firms," suggests Bunting. "That's because one-off acquisition financing will remain scarce, and because there are not enough Gen X or Gen Y business buyers to consume the fast-growing supply of baby-boomer businesses for sale." She believes that selling your firm to a roll-up company may be the best way to get a fair price for your business.
Personalized business software
Here's hoping Bunting is right on this one. "The last generation of business software was meant to optimize your back office, make accounting easier and keep up with tax rules," she writes. "The new generation of business software is going to focus on creating value for your business, connect your customers and suppliers in a network, and make it easier for you, not your accountant, to do business."
A franchising boom
The franchise industry, already going strong, will see an uptick as they allow entrepreneurs to start quality businesses with low overhead costs and startup costs. Many people looking to start their own business, says Bunting, "see franchises as offering more of a guarantee than starting their own business from scratch. There are many franchises that can be started for less than $10,000, and I think we will see a lot more of those springing up in 2012."
Chinese companies will become a force in global markets
Representing a broad spectrum of industries, Chinese firms will start shaking up markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa, but they'll soon be in Europe and North America as well. "A common characteristic of these new competitors from China is their ability to offer ‘almost-as-good products' at a very attractive price point," says Bunting.
Other growing trends include social media, marketing measurement. niche group-buying sites, public/private partnerships, local search, and much more. Check out the full story.