2016: The TRANSITIONAL YEAR. The Monkey Year for the Chinese!

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Dear SBS Stakeholder,

We carry on the yearly tradition of analyzing some trends, which will have an influence on our lives.  We will have to wait until the year is over, to evaluate this article. I do wish you all a Happy Year with plenty of personal success.

These are the key trends for the upcoming year:

  1. The year of Virtual Reality
  2. Internet of Things
  3. Holistic Marketing
  4. Robots
  5. Democracy and cybersecurity
1. Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality

All technology companies are heavily investing in virtual reality.  Facebook has taken over Oculus Rift and Microsoft works with Hololens, glasses which are bringing augmented reality to you. Augmented reality is a mix of real life and the virtual reality. Most of these applications are for the entertainment industry, but companies can benefit from it as well.  It will be the “new normal” in the upcoming years that you will put on these glasses to get in touch with the consumer service of a company, instead of calling them.  If you wish to buy a house at your preferred holiday destination, just put on the glasses and you will walk through your dream house, no need to travel there anymore to make the purchase.

2. Internet of Things
Internet of Things

The Internet of Things really comes together with the connection of sensors and machines; the real value is in the intersection of gathering data and leveraging it.  Cloud-based applications are the key to using leveraged data.  Today, 5 billion devices are already connected and Gartner predicts that in 2021, there will 21 billion ‘things ‘connected. This goes from printers, to cameras, to roasting a chicken in your oven.  And the trend will only increase in the coming years, but security remains weak – still an important issue.

3. Holistic Marketing
Holistic Marketing

According to BusinessDirectory.com it is a marketing strategy that is developed by thinking about the business as a whole, within the broader economy and society, and tapping in the life of your customers.  The four main components are: CRM, Integrated Marketing, Internal Marketing and Socially Responsible Marketing.  Creative destruction will continue this year, and some industries will completely vanish.  Flexibility in all aspects of the society will gain importance!

4. Robots

Robots are inexpensive and will have a big influence on our labor market. Today, 10 percent of worldwide production processes are done by robots, according to BCG. It will be 25 percent in 2025. A good point for government to think on how they can tax these robots to generate revenue.  The cashier person will be replaced by RFID, the bus and truck drivers will be replaced by an automatic driving system. Is your job also at stake? I don’t believe robots will entirely replace human beings, maybe except in the health care sector to join elderly people. But overall, they will increase efficiency and effectiveness on the workplace and will bring cost reduction for companies.

5. Democracy and Cybersecurity
Cyber Security

We live in a volatile world, which is going through a lot of transformations at the moment.  I strongly believe that we would live in a more peaceful world if other countries would adapt the confederation model.  Artificial intelligence is another treat for democracies. If computers are becoming stronger than human beings, the so-called quantum computers, then we have to start thinking about our future of nations.  With the growth of Internet, payments and terrorism, cyber-security will be an increasing cost for companies. We all know that we have to do something about it, and how to go about doing this remains to be a complex issue. Increased data traffic and stealing of personal information, will force us to think different about this topic.

There is a lot of technology in this overview, but oil companies are overvalued and will not any longer dominate the world. Technology will.

Happy 2016!

Bert Wolfs, Ph.D.
Academic Dean

SBS Swiss Business School