2013: What are businesses hoping for in the New Year?

Growth, digital and mobile marvels are on the cards in the New Year

The Mayans are wrong! We’re alive!

With 2013 safely open for us to enjoy, how are businesses feeling about it?

Many are going all out for growth and pursuing opportunities. 2013 is set to be the “year of innovation” for business, according to Alma Consulting Group’s marketing director Martin Hook.

“Trail-blazing businesses will need to ensure they are maximising the value they are getting out of the new schemes and may need to find specialist support to do this,” he advises.

But again and again it’s a question of economic growth. As TranslateMedia MD Patrick Eve says, “the biggest issue is growth”.

Others share Eve’s concern, like Vince McLoughlin, partner at the business advisory Russell New. For him, the problem is exacerbated by the continuation of economic austerity and cuts by the chancellor.

“This will stifle confidence and consumer demand over the next 12 months. Businesses will need to react to this by adopting innovative and resourceful measures in their approach to customers and suppliers. We may see continued difficulties with securing finance despite the proposals to encourage bank lending.”

East London director at Lloyds TSB Commercial Bank Paul Evans says 2013 will be about business confidence.

“Recession worries and ‘doom and gloom’ are likely to remain in newspaper headlines in the year ahead, which could mean SMEs don’t make the most of opportunities when they arise out of fear about committing resources.

“Subsequently, confidence is still a vital element of any SME’s investment decisions and I believe these significant programmes across the capital will ensure that businesses in London have real reasons to feel positive about growth prospects in the year ahead,” he says.

Facilities managers Planon is just as foreboding, warning businesses to expect greater red tape and guidelines. They’re talking things like mandatory carbon reporting and demands for building information modeling to be available on your assets.  Planon’s CTO Erik Jaspers explains:

“The regulatory landscape in the UK will continue to put additional pressures on companies throughout 2013. Businesses can prepare by ensuring they know what regulations are coming up and ensuring that they have the necessary measures in place to help aid compliance.”

Business analyst Stephen Archer is similarly sober, warning firms to account for zero growth and tougher taxation on consumers.

In a departure from the gloom, Archer does have a morsel of good news!

 “Oil prices and pump prices should fall 5% as demand for crude continues to tumble.”

You can expect motorists to be looking forward eagerly to that.

There’s further good news for taxi-lovers, you’ll be getting free Wi-Fi in 2013 while being whisked around the capital.

Just read what marketing director for taxi advertisers Ubiquitous, Sarah Priseman, has to say:  

“This service would be highly valued by London’s regular taxi passengers, with 79% being more likely to try and hail a cab that offers free Wi-Fi.”

2013 may seem a harder prospect for businesses after the Olympo-tastic 2012, but we can still be thankful for the royal baby, as IGF Invoice Finance managing director Tracy Ewen said:

“More often than not landmark events are good for business, as people go out and celebrate together. 2013 is still very much a blank canvas, but at least we can look forward to a Royal baby!”

Businesses are going to lose cash in 2013. Not an apocalyptic prediction but simply as firms will get to rake it in through other means, as UK MD of SumUp, Florian Richter explains:  

“One thing we’re certain to see in 2013 is a rise in the number of businesses that accept credit and debit card payments. With pay-as-you-go transaction processing solutions like SumUp in the market and modern smartphones conquering the country, it is only a matter of time before cash-only businesses are a thing of the past.”

Businesses will be breaking out and getting mobile. You’ll all be embracing cloud computing and social media.

It’s all part of the need for businesses to be quick on their feet, as says Simon Guest, business strategy director at Maverick.

“Real time communications will play a bigger role in communications campaigns, with clients and agencies working to react and respond to unplanned events and advertising opportunities to maximise their customer exposure.”

Ben Dowd, business director at mobile giant O2 UK, is positively evangelical about the rise of social media and cloud computing for firms.

“Cloud and mobile services will become more important than ever in enabling the enterprise workforce. As businesses evolve their flexible working strategies and seek new tools to empower staff to work remotely, we expect to see a big increase in business mobile apps, as developers cater to a growing enterprise audience who use an array of connected devices some of which are funded by the Business but many which have been purchased by the individuals themselves.

 “Social channels are an opportunity for staff to engage in conversation and represent your brand or business amongst growing numbers of online communities – representing new ways to connect with customers. In 2013, businesses should be actively looking at news ways to embrace this new online world.”

David McLeman, managing director at Ancoris, enterprise partner to Google, is just as evangelical about the importance of cloud computing.

He predicts that it’ll be precipitated by mean ol’ Microsoft leaving businesses hanging.

“With a significant number of companies being forced off Exchange 2003 implementations as Microsoft ends support, we expect to see a third of them migrate to Google Apps rather than stay with Microsoft. Gartner’s confirmation that Google Apps is a viable alternative to Microsoft Office for most users will make businesses question the value of renewing Microsoft Enterprise Agreements that lock them into paying for licenses and software they may not use.

“Just as 2012 saw IT directors wake up to the dangers of staff using consumer systems to collaborate when corporate IT fails to meet their needs, 2013 will see them respond to employees’ growing use of consumer cloud storage and document sharing solutions like Dropbox and Box.net to get their work done. Enterprises will start to regain control of their data – and address security and compliance issues – by rolling out integrated and controlled cloud solutions such as Google Drive as part of their corporate solutions,” he says.

But before we go cloud-mad, John Newton has a warning for you. He’s CTO of enterprise content managers Alfresco.

“Will we regret our indiscriminate overindulgence in 2013? Gartner’s Hype Cycle shows that the Cloud is heading towards the Trough of Disillusionment, where implementations fail to deliver and highly visible failures expose its flaws.  One cloud storage vendor boasts that 80% of UK government and 80% of Fortune 100 companies are using its cloud solution – a scary thought. So, what can we do to save the cloud from disillusionment and continue to enjoy its benefits?”

In short, Newton concludes that clouds aren’t enough and businesses will need to go for “hybrid” approaches.

Technowizardry a-plenty will be in the pipeline for next year then. Even from the taxicabs to how we do business, London will still be changing and rocketing along at its usual place.

If this is just a foretaste of what the year will be like, bring on 2013!

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