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The biggest digital trends to watch in 2016

Forward-looking business owners and managers should be looking at possible trends that will be the "next big deal" in 2016, so to construct a strategy in order to implement them into their business.

The new calendar year has arrived, and everyone is gazing into a crystal ball to project growth, and to construct a strategy in line with the trends that are the next big deal.

If you can predict where your industry will be next year, and even 10 years out with confident accuracy, you can develop strategies that capitalise on the next big deals today.

Although, can we predict future performance of business sectors? Better than ever before, in fact, and based on how far we’ve come in such a short time, big deals, like GPS, can point us in the right direction.

As you plan for the coming year, look back at last year’s big deals in your business sphere and take a look at the trajectory of business trends as they ascend and how they are received by consumers and business owners.


But, with the New Year well under way, here are some of the big deals business owners and practice principals should be looking out for in 2016.

Search engines will get smarter

It’s hard to believe that search engines were first introduced by Yahoo in 1994 – pre-Google. Google, of course, has changed the way we use search engines and the company continues to innovate.

Eighty per cent of us use Google every day. Why? Quality of results. Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) deliver the site link to what you’re looking for on page one.

Search engines are human constructs, subject to innate biases held by a search engine developer/owner/company. Google, Yahoo, and Bing – the big three general search engines – deliver different SERPs based on the keywords users type into the query box.


Google leads the pack by a lot. It’s the 800-kilo gorilla of search engines. The company introduces new algorithms to improve SERPs regularly. It adds new features.

Have you noticed the new “smart boxes” on Google SERPs? Query a stock price and Google delivers a brief summary of the company, its exchange and symbol, contact info – all on page one of your search engine results in a smart box. You don’t even have to leave Google SERPs – the answer is right in front of you. Smart, and a big deal headed your company’s way.

Reaching new clients

You know how you reach prospects now? You won’t be doing that in the future. Forget unfocused marketing. It’s a roll of the dice. Oh, indeed, statistical analysis of TV ratings and website performance is a highly refined science, but the next big deal is likely to change the way your company engages its market.

Mobile hardware will continue to evolve delivering more images, video conferencing, and other dense content that chews through bandwidth. Bandwidth is expanding as demand increases.

Business growth will evolve with the technology. You’ll be watching a TV commercial, click on the remote and instantly access the company website, or better still, a helpful representative who calls you! No more elevator music waiting for the “next available representative!”

TVs will look more like computers and computers will look more like TVs as two technologies merge into a unified whole. Advertising will become increasingly targeted. Buy a computer game with an embedded chip credit card and you’ll see lots of gaming spam in your inbox before you even get home.

Market channel integration will increase in importance. If you know this prospect is in the market for a new car, you want your dealership to go proactive and reach out to that lead. It’s a highly qualified lead.

Cyber security

Cyber-security will have to keep pace with the black hats. It has to.

Each time we hear that a major retailer or government agency has a security breach, new security measures are deployed in a constant battle between malicious hackers and those who think like malicious hackers.

You’ll see more bio-metric security on everything from computers to cars to home entryways. Not only is it coming, it’s here now. Just not widespread yet, but sooner than later cyber-security will make it more difficult to hack a system.

3D printing

3D printing will grow exponentially. In the next few years, we’ll see car bodies constructed of extruded resin using 3D printer technology. This will greatly lower cost of production across all industry sectors.

Cloud computing by business will expand even faster. It’s low-cost, highly-secure, available to different HR assets with individual permissions (i.e. view only), and it stores valuable company data off site so even if the office burns to a pile of charred rubble, all of your company data is accessible from your new office.

Artificial Intelligence

AI (Artificial Intelligence) just keeps getting smarter. You see it in use every time you conduct a Google search. Google Suggest – the drop down box showing what Google thinks you want – is primitive. Machines will get smarter. So will Google Suggest.


Smart automation and robotics will continue to become more sophisticated, capable of performing with increased precision in industry, medicine, CAD, and other disciplines. That robotic vacuum cleaner is just the beginning.

Planning for the next 12 months isn’t a roll of the dice. It’s predictable based on long-term trends. Guaranteed, the Internet will be here in 2016 and experience jaw-dropping growth and innovative utility. How do I know? It’s been happening for decades.

The biggest digital trends to watch in 2016
Michael Harrison

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