2011 is now underway and both individuals and businesses are refining their plans for the year ahead. There has been a lot of speculation about what will happen in 2011 and a quick Google search shows there are many predictions on key trends in economics, technology and the environment.
Although environmental issues have enjoyed a growing awareness over recent years it does not seem that 2011 will be the year when green business gains traction and becomes common business practice. While the general consensus is that green business practices will not take off, the growing momentum of green issues is predicted to continue and the end of 2011 will see a greater global understanding of sustainability. As a result customers will increasingly ask about the environmental impact of a business and its products.
Another trend is that customers will be increasingly important in 2011 and businesses will need to develop strategies that talk with their customers rather than at them. How a business defines and seeks out their customers is also likely to change. The greater use of technology is creating opportunities for businesses to reach out to customers beyond their immediate geographical sphere. The rising use of mobile computing and social media (another trend expected to continue in 2011) means customers are now more connected than they have ever been – not only with the business but also with other customers.
This year there is also a focus on energy management. With the expectation of oil price increases in 2011, more and more businesses are realising that there are benefits in reducing costs associated with energy consumption. As well as having a positive impact on the bottom line, a focus on energy management to reduce carbon emissions prepares a business for carbon limits likely to be imposed (at least in developed countries) in future.
An additional prediction for 2011 is that the gap will widen between businesses who have already started to implement environmental practices and those that have not. This gap may not impact this year but make it more difficult for firms without environmental policies to catch up later.
Each business should consider whether these trends will influence how they conduct themselves in 2011. Introducing an energy management program or other green business practices will likely put a business in a more competitive position by the end of the year. Aside from benefits in reduced costs and better market position for the years ahead, 2011 will offer opportunities to engage with customers who have a greater knowledge of sustainability.