Having worked for large corporations a long time and now investigating new trends, I see interesting things happening outside the corporate domain I think will influence the way we do business.
Traditional corporations work according to business models developed in the 19th century developing a product or service, bringing it to the market and selling it on a mass scale to customers worldwide. This model still works but also causes problems like the bonus culture, the marketing of unhealthy products, the impact of global distribution on the environment etc.. More and more companies are working according to new business models giving their customers more influence on what they produce, where it’s produced and how. The trends I describe below will have major impact on business and will change the competitive landscape significantly the coming years.
The local economy: all I want is available just around the corner.
Last weekend I was visiting a local fare trade market in Amsterdam where a lot of local small business presented themselves to the public. I was surprised of the number of small business presenting themselves and the quality of the products shown. In my hometown Amersfoort a market for biological and local grown food already exists for some time and is now even bigger than the traditional market. And just around the corner there is a biological cooperative supermarket where I can buy all my groceries. This supermarket, of which I’m a member, sells only local biological food from farms in the surrounding giving the local economy an impulse. And as a member I can influence the products they sell and their policies. People in this sector don’t earn a lot of money but they are highly motivated people working very hard to make a living. While a lot of traditional shops are closing because of the internet shops like these are growing in number and creating local jobs making also shopping more fun and improving the social environment.
The informal exchange economy: becoming supplier and consumer at the same time.
Another trend is that, while more and more people are using e-Commerce sites like Ebay or Alibaba, it becomes possible for all consumers to be active as both client and supplier. Through the internet you can buy and sell without all the formalities of doing official business. Want so sell or buy a second hand car? Need a plumber to repair something? Post it on Yelp or Uber. You see at this moment a lot of new Apps becoming available for supporting the C2C marketplace, with or without exchange of money, creating a new bottom up informal economy (and you will never know what is really happening here Big Brother!). Existing Online companies like Amazon.com are very interested in this market and have planned to add location based services to their portfolio. With this direct C2C way of doing business products and services are directly exchanged between people without interference of traditional company’s. The volume of this market is not easy to measure because the deal is closed in the end between two individuals, but the traffic on C2C websites is growing and huge. A reason why government is looking eagerly how they can control and tax the transactions closed
The new make Industry: the switch from mass marketing to user specific production.
The last couple of years a lot of people tried to start-up new business by focussing on the services industry. They tried to sell their knowledge and skills to companies and were contracted as long they were needed by these companies. The growth of this flexible workforce started while companies had problems hiring people while the economy was still running well. With the recession this market decreased and the market for communication managers, project managers and consultants is very crowded. You can see now a new trend students are choosing for technical studies and are more focussing on creating and developing and producing new products. And with the availability of new tools and technologies like the 3D printer it becomes possible to produce client specific products on a limited scale. Instead of designing standard products for the market which can be marketed, sold, produced and distributed on a massive scale it’s now possible to make more and more products local or at home without needing to pay for the high corporate overhead, marketing and distribution costs.
It’s always difficult to look in the future but the three trends I described above have added value to our economy. They are better delivering what the customer needs, creating new jobs and improving the quality of life, work and our environment.