How can a company innovate and make sure it stays ahead of its time? We’ve carefully selected 5 trends companies should pay careful attention to in order to stay competitive.

What if you boost your business by innovating while also anticipating changes in your markets and the expectations of your customers? 

Have you thought about the gap standing between your business and the other competitors?

If such ideas resonate with you, take a quick look at these 5 tips and trends.

1 – Integrate New Technologies as a Tool For Good

tech innovation ideas business

It can be hard to stay competitive and trendy if you forget to pay attention to new technologies such as blockchain, big data, or virtual reality.

These new technologies will most certainly be at the center of many companies across different industries in the coming years. However, being an innovative company ahead of its time does not necessarily mean blindly embarking on these technological revolutions. 

Instead, the challenge is to integrate these new technologies in a more positive and fruitful way.

For several years now we have seen how technology creates mixed expectations and perceptions among people. Sometimes it raises people’s hopes. Other times it is a source of fear or fuel for conspiracy theories.

For example, the Internet is now seen as an indispensable tool. But many see the issue of data protection as a fundamental concern. 

This makes it a relevant issue for companies that go further on questions of technological innovation. Every company should wonder about the data it collects – from clients, suppliers or investors – more specifically what it will need and use it for and what security guarantees are being taken.

Blockchain, for example, can be a great tool for traceability and transparency. 

It can help companies better control their production chains while clarifying the origin of the products it marketed or the efficiency of the services offered. 

But blockchain can also quickly become an energy sinkhole and an endless source of speculation capable of disconnecting the economy from reality. 

Big Data also has the potential to open up new horizons in areas such as HR, supply chain, marketing, or strategic decisions. As long as it respects GDPR regulations and manages data security issues.

The challenge for companies that want to be at the cutting edge is, therefore, to find positive ways of using these technologies. And putting them at the service of the common good of citizens. 

For example, using nano-technologies as part of an eco-design strategy. Or putting big data at the service of energy efficiency. Or using blockchain as a traceability and guarantee tool. 

The goal is, therefore, to use technology as a tool that facilitates becoming a better business: one that’s able to create value – including social or environmental value – for all.

2 – Move From Communication To Dialogue

communication business transparency

In a world where new content is increasingly created and circulated around, the way companies communicate is fundamentally important.

Making your company’s product/service and identity known, attracting customers, creating loyalty, being present – it all takes time and can be quite challenging.

This is a sector that has already, in recent years, been “turned upside down” by many major developments. Like the opening of new communication channels (internet, social networks), the generalization of new vectors (video, live), and even of new experiences like virtual reality. 

However, one thing has not changed (not fast enough in any case): communication remains “top-down”: companies actively build their communication strategy and deploy it to consumers and citizens. 

But quite often all this is done without co-design and without benefiting from the inputs stakeholders might have to add. So what if companies finally moved on to active dialogue? 

What if social networks finally embraced the opportunity to hear customers and other stakeholders out to better meet their needs and expectations?

What if companies used citizens’ and consumers’ insights more often to create new offers, to develop new identities and umbrella brands that are more tuned with societal changes?

What if communication truly went both ways?

For this to happen it is necessary to consider the traditional spaces of communication a little more as spaces for discussion. And from there starting to develop real processes to analyze and understand customer feedback – while using social networks as tools for monitoring brand issues.

We can see it very well with social movements such as “Fridays for Future”, “Black Lives Matter” or “Me Too”: people are looking for ways to express their views and discontentment.

It’s time for open communication and to co-create how business is done with the views and inputs of different stakeholders.

3 – Adapt the Business Model (and the Customer Journey) To Changes in Individual and Collective Expectations

business model impact operations

One of the major trends in consumption today is the transformation of expectations. 

As consumers but also as citizens, individuals have different expectations from businesses. They not only expect innovations in products, services, or sales – such as more digital and immersive experiences. People also want to have a clear vision of the impacts their consumption has. 

Thus, they want to know how what they buy is produced, what are the impacts of different products and services on human health, on society, and on the environment. 

Consumers increasingly dress as citizens looking to understand what business practices along the value-chain their hard-earned money make possible.

The big business success stories of recent years almost all have in common the fact that they have taken in these new realities to how they design their products and services. 

As a result, many companies have started to consider and act on a range of different issues. Many now pay attention to issues such as fair wages, human rights, environmental protection, supporting local or organic production, embracing diversity, etc.

For instance, as a result, organic brands built around specifications that are more respectful of the planet show much higher growth rates than traditional brands. 

It is, therefore, a matter of rethinking business models by integrating individuals’ new expectations: more quality, traceability and more positive impacts on the environment or health.

And of course, all of this must also influence the way a company structures its customer journey. 

Today, consumers are educating themselves. They read social networks ang go to specialized sites looking for reviews before buying. As a consequence, companies should become more and more clear, transparent, and display their commitments as much as possible.

4 – Focus on Authenticity and Transparency

business transparency authenticity

A growing body of research shows that consumers are more likely to turn to brands they believe to be genuine, i.e, brands that inspire trust. 

According to the Consumer Content Report, 86% of consumers believe that the authenticity of a brand is fundamental in their decision to buy (this figure rises to 90% for millennials). 

20% of consumers have even stopped following brands that they don’t consider to be genuine. Nonetheless, the world of consumption today is still largely marked by opacity and vagueness. 

Consumers aren’t, generally speaking, aware of the ingredients and materials of the products they choose to buy because while many products lack information about their composition or nutritional quality. However, consumers are increasingly drawn to brands that know use quality materials and ingredients.

The same is true for areas like cosmetics, transportation, technology, repair services: most people are looking further and analyzing issues like manufacturing methods or product lifecycles. They’re on a quest for transparency and quality while feeling proud about what they buy.

The same goes for communication. Today, corporate communication is a lot focused on language elements, corporate jargon, artificial marketing…

Even on social networks, communication is standardized, often supervised, sometimes even paid, and sponsored (including via influencers ). 

There seems to be a cruel lack of spontaneity in the way companies address their customers. To get out of this deadlock, companies really need to promote transparency and authenticity. 

They should say what they do, why they do it, and how – unveiling the impact of their products, their composition… And ultimately encouraging the commitment of influencers and consumers thanks to the quality of their offers and by stepping up for cornerstone values.

5 – Become a Meaningful Business

meaningful purpose companies

Finally, companies taking the lead will certainly be the ones knowing how to have and give meaning to their businesses. 

A recent Accenture poll showed that almost 2/3 of consumers would prefer to buy from companies that hold a certain meaning in society. 62% of consumers would even seek out companies that take clear positions on environmental and social issues – including, sometimes, political positions.

Today more and more citizens consider that the role of companies is no longer just to make a profit and to sell products and services. But to do so with a positive impact on the world. A clear call for meaningful companies able to create shared value.

The same is true inside organizations: more and more employees are asking their employers to craft their roles so they become more meaningful. 

They want to feel their contribution to a fairer and more ecological world.  The organizations of tomorrow should, therefore, find ways to make their core operations meaningful, while also supporting their employees’ quest for meaningful jobs that create positive impacts.

Follow these 5 trends and your organization will be backed up by the 5 fundamentally important ideas that will help it stay or become innovative, competitive, and better for the world.

[Note: the original article was written and published by Clément Fournier]