Gazing into future with trend-setters
7 Data ‘myning’
This refers to the vast increase of data unleashed by the digital age being used to enhance societal as opposed to just business goals. The best example here is a collaboration in the US between Facebook, the Nation Resources Defense Council, software maker oPower and 16 US-based utility companies. Users can connect their energy account to the app and compare their energy usage to friends and others in similar residential areas, and engage in competition to reduce energy bills.
8 Again made here
The eighth trend alludes to the new phenomenon which US president Barack Obama is calling “in-sourcing”, the practice whereby businesses are bringing previously outsourced production back home. One of the examples quoted is a French electronic bicycle company bringing production back from China to La Rochelle. A start-up Welsh jeans business, Huit Jeans, has located in Cardigan, a town which previously boosted a jeans manufacturer, under the brand positioning; “Our town is making jeans again”.
9 Full frontal
The ninth trend is based on another familiar 21st-century business theme, transparency. An example of the lengths to which this trend is now being followed is from the Japanese restaurant franchise Kimitachi. Customers are now able to follow the preparation of their meals from a video system installed in the kitchens. The businesses objective was to humanise sushi delivery by making the whole operation more transparent.
10 Demanding brands
The final trend, predicts an increase in brands that not only make a contribution to society but encourage their customers to do the same.
There’s wonderful example here from Brazilian football club Vitoria, which encourages their supporters to donate blood. Their strip was black and red stripes but they started this season with black and white, promising fans that as more blood was donated more red stripes would be restored.
There are a number of common threads running through these trends. The first is the continuing concern with sustainability and the recognition of what one commentator has called “the intrinsic value of nature and our responsibility to refrain from damaging or desecrating it”.
The second is the onward march of the app resulting is an increasing number of businesses, for example Nike, redefining themselves as tech companies.
The third common thread is the rise of potential new global brands from emerging markets.
There are valuable lessons and opportunities here for Irish businesses. In fact there are some that would already qualify to be featured in this report – Voya, the upmarket beauty products brand from Enniscrone using local seaweed as an ingredient, and Inis Meain, the fashionable knitwear range which has just launched a new product based on what local fisherman Mairtin Beag wore a 100 years ago.
But the greatest opportunity for many Irish businesses will be in the sustainability area. After all if E L James can make trillions from Fifty Shades of Grey, surely we can make billions from forty shades of green.