In 2015, I wrote two forward looking blog posts; the first on major business trends for the coming year, and the second on the evolution of management consulting, where I recapped the consulting landscape in 2014 and shared my insight on what 2015 might look like. As the New Year begins, we are continuing to see new trends emerge, so I thought I’d share some learnings from the past year, and key developments I see approaching:
Growing Sense of Confidence
Business, in general, is gaining confidence. While economic uncertainty remains a concern – a survey of business leaders we did a few months back found that economic uncertainty was the top concern for 2016 – we also know that growth is a top strategic priority for the year. At the beginning of 2015, we were uncertain with the stability of the economy, but with each quarter we saw our clients become more comfortable in the sustained growth period that we are heading into. And, although slower, we expect 2016 will be a growth year. This period of growth leads to companies taking on more risk, investing in new revenue streams and increased merger and acquisition activity. Many companies that have improved balance sheets through business efficiencies and cost cutting the last few years now have an opportunity to return to growth.
Competing for Customers
The flip side of this is intensified competition over customers. Companies need to be able to leverage new tools, technology and data to understand the consumer better and create loyalty. In the old days, it was purely about services and bundling. Today, it’s about the experience and authenticity of a brand. We saw this some in 2015, and it’s been an evolution over the past decade or so, but influencers are critical to reaching decision makers. It’s no longer about reaching one person; it’s about understanding the various touchpoints of the full customer journey to create a true human experience. At North Highland, we are partnering with and guiding our clients on how to navigate the new world of human experience.
Cross-Industry Learnings and Exploring New Spaces
Industries tend to be quite myopic in their view, but companies need to look outside their competitive set to identify new ways to innovate and grow. The cross-industry learnings we can share as consultants with our clients are going to be profound. If you think about patient experience, healthcare providers are trying to take the learnings from other industries who are providing excellent customer experience and bring it to their customers. I see this happening more and more, so a consultancy’s ability to take technology or insights in one industry and apply it to another is going to be very significant.
I encourage you to take a look at our 2016 Industry Outlook, which identifies trends and potential opportunities for some key industries in the year ahead – you’ll see a lot of similarities across the board for what’s on the horizon. What’s your radar for the year ahead? How will you turn challenges into opportunities to succeed in 2016?