Last month, I revisited a Business News Daily article published toward the end of 2018 that forecasted trends across the business landscape for the coming year, and offered my perspective based on the experiences I had in the first half of the year. Following is the remainder of the predictions, accompanied by my thoughts on how they’ve played out thus far.
(As always, you are welcome to share your thoughts in the Comments section!)
- A radical change toward digital banking will continue."Millennials want to bank wherever they want and whenever they want, which does not align with the traditional banking model. … As a result of this shift, the traditional brick-and-mortar banking solution will be replaced with a technology-first mindset.” While it’s true that digital is a large – and growing – part of modern banking, and that banks are re-styling traditional brick-and-mortar locations to appeal to a more on-the-go, tech-savvy clientele, the need for face-to-face interaction, particularly when conducting large, complex transactions, persists. Yes, daily transactions are increasingly being done on a computer or mobile device, but many – especially those for whom banking has historically been an in-person experience – enjoy the confidence that conducting their personal business with someone they trust affords.
- Mobile banking means more mobile cyber attacks."All are experiencing a big increase in attacks on their mobile banking and transactions. Expect that to continue. Approximately 80 percent of financial institutions' customers are doing online banking; 50 percent are on mobile, and that's growing. More customers equal more opportunity for attacks." Unfortunately, this continues to be true, which is why it’s a growing area of concern in financial institutions. State Bank of Cross Plains has a staff dedicated to strengthening our systems and staying ahead of cyber attacks. Right now, more mobile users means more vulnerability, but as the world of banking advances, hopefully so, too, will the measures that safeguard against danger.
- Businesses will prioritize employee happiness. "Businesses [will be] focusing on employee engagement and happiness. Because unemployment is at historic lows, keeping employees engaged and happy is critical to retaining good people." Employers (especially in the service, trade, and ag industries) are struggling to find and keep employees. They’re having to increase pay to attract workers and then, once they get those employees, need to do more to keep them. I hear this from my small business customers every day. As long as the economy keeps humming and workers continue to have a wealth of potential opportunities, businesses will have to go to great lengths to ensure that their workforces are content, to avoid any disruption in productivity/profitability.
- The shift toward remote work will increase. "With the rise of telecommunications (video, chats, etc.), the need for employees to hit the road has subsided, meaning that business leaders will need to rethink their communications strategies. They'll also need to consider how to encourage workplace collaboration when everyone is in a different place." The gradual shift toward telecommuting has been ongoing since, at least, the beginning of the decade. And as technology becomes more capable of accommodating this workstyle, that shift figures to continue. That said, it’s difficult to build camaraderie and culture when you not interacting personally with people. Working remotely, employees do not have the same ability to get to know their co-workers personally, which can cause issues with workplace collaboration.
- Tech startups will hire candidates from a broader range of professional backgrounds. "A broader representation of STEM-related roles, especially women in these fields, will be a focus for companies that want to increase diversity and innovation, which is essential for competing in the tech industry." The recent emphasis placed on the value of a STEM-centric education has been inspiring to witness – I completely agree with this prediction. Diversity is vital for many companies seeking to move to the next level. The better diversified the staff, usually, the more informed/in-touch the organization.
Times change so quickly, it can be hard to keep up. In talking with my small-business-owner clients, I find the key to be keeping an open mind, learning as much as possible, and recognizing that everyone’s in the same boat. While it remains to be seen what the rest of the year will bring, I welcome the opportunity to discuss your situation and goals with you. Please feel free to get in touch – and here’s to a great second half!