How will technology affect business in 2016?

  • Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.com 2015Dan Isaacson, CEO of Elgin-based CAVU, says the challenge for the growing drone industry will be to convince a skeptical public that responsible use of the technology can far exceed perceived harm.

    Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.com 2015Dan Isaacson, CEO of Elgin-based CAVU, says the challenge for the growing drone industry will be to convince a skeptical public that responsible use of the technology can far exceed perceived harm.

 
 
Posted1/1/2016 5:30 AM

How much can technology change your business in a year? Think about it. Ten years ago, there were no iPhones. Three years ago, few people knew about the cloud. Last year, you could swipe a credit card without fear of being left vulnerable if a transaction turns into fraud.

So what's in store for business and technology in 2016? I asked three suburban experts to share their thoughts on what the trends and challenges will be for their industries in 2016:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Manufacturing

Ray Ziganto is president of Bi-Link in Bloomingdale, a global supplier of manufacturing components and services to a number of industries:

Q: How do you see manufacturing technology evolving in 2016?

A: Second and third generation owners of manufacturing businesses are finding their voice. What I mean is they are stepping out of the shadow of the founders (respectfully) and embracing new technology (additive manufacturing), social media (blogs, Twitter, etc.), and really putting thought and effort into developing their company culture. I've been around long enough to know that if you don't have a good relationship with your customers and your employees, all the fancy tech in the world won't save your business.

Q: What will be the industry's biggest challenge?

A: Recruiting. Many business owners I talk to are in a hiring mode but they are struggling to fill the open positions. I believe there are a couple of forces at work here. Number 1, manufacturing has had a PR problem. Manufacturing jobs weren't seen as a "desirable" and/or manufacturing companies were seen as monotonous, dirty and dangerous. Number 2, the recruiting process is outdated. Most companies are still trying to use old recruiting methods (run ads, sort resumes, pay recruiters, etc.), yet they wonder why they're not attracting the latest talent (Millennials).

In our experience, putting more effort into demonstrating what an extraordinary culture we have vs. just providing a job spec has made a world of difference. To communicate that, we've been migrating away from traditional "ads" and started using video and social media as a tool for recruiting, and it has worked extremely well.

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Q: What will be the "hot" trend of the year?

A: More and more school districts in the area are reintroducing "shop," or in the current vernacular, "manufacturing technology." The challenge they are having is that they really need the support of the manufacturing community to help with training, equipment, mentoring, etc. What a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved. The new generation of manufacturing leaders gets to engage with and influence the next generation of leaders.

Drones

Ray Ziganto
Ray Ziganto -

Dan Issacson is president of CAVU, an Elgin-based drone photography business that in two years has grown from a one-man operation to a 47-person business with nine locations in seven states.

Q: How do you see the drone industry evolving in 2016?

A: I think the basic look of drones won't change much, but what will change will be the technology "under the hood." More accurate automatic flight controls, situational awareness, even onboard radar are possibilities, and if achieved, will revolutionize an already revolutionary technology.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Q: What will be the industry's biggest challenge?

A: The greatest challenge the drone industry faces in 2016 is the same it faced in 2015, showing an already skeptical and fearful public that the benefits of this technology far exceed any potential harm, and that both the drone community and the public should embrace proactive regulation without compromising innovation or industry. We can have Amazon delivering packages and privacy. We can help farmers in California better use ground water and safeguard other aircraft from dangerous collisions. We simply need the will.

Q: What will be the biggest surprise of the year?

A: The biggest surprise of 2016 will be if the FAA can finally put in place the rules for commercial drone flight and begin to address the need for oversight of the industry, recreational fliers included. The irresponsible fliers making the 5 o'clock news have all been recreational users who either lack the knowledge of the danger they are placing others in, or disregard those dangers. We need our industry to crack down on those folks, as well as our regulatory bodies. It takes a communitywide effort here.

Social Media Marketing

Kacey Keegan
Kacey Keegan

Kacey Keegan handles community management for Red Caffeine Marketing + Technology, a Lombard-based agency that utilizes a wide range of technology to develop marketing and brandings strategies.

Q: How do you see the industry evolving in 2016?

A: One trend that we've seen take off in 2015 and expect a full-adaptation by the end of 2016 from all of the major social sites -- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest -- will impact sales strategies, primarily for B2C companies. This trend is "social selling." In June 2015, Pinterest launched Shop Pinterest which is now available via iPhone, iPad, and Android apps. Users can search clothing, jewelry, furniture and other miscellaneous trinkets and purchase with the click of the little blue "buy" button. The app saves the user's credit card and mailing address information for quick and easy transactions.

Facebook has also rolled out a buy button in 2015, and Twitter has begun testing the waters.

When social selling fully takes hold in 2016, we'll see more social campaigns specifically aimed at the convert phase of the customer journey.

Q: What will be the industry's biggest challenge?

A: The biggest challenge companies on social media will continue to face is having their posts found organically. Organic reach continues to decline. Multiple reports, from sources including Forbes and AdWeek, claim varying organic reach statistics to be only 0.7 percent to 2.6 percent of your following. We can thank the social media filter bubble for this.

So how do you get around it? The answer is sponsored content. If you want your content to be found, you will have to pay-to-play.

This makes it increasingly important for businesses to invest in a social strategy to smart spend rather than random acts of media.

Q: What will be the "hot" apps or channels to watch for?

A: Each social media platform has its own culture and etiquette -- including best timing of day and frequency of postings. And when your company manages a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., it can become overwhelming to post on multiple social networks. Not to mention, social media management is time consuming.

With this information overload, you will be grateful to hear there are tools out there to help manage the madness for both B2C and B2B companies. A couple of our favorite tools include Sprout Social and Buffer. These social media management tools offer services including: scheduling future posts across platforms to publish, recirculation of unseen content, providing content pieces of interest via RSS feed, and analytic reports to measure the engagement and impressions of your social posts.

Also, a good social media marketing strategy will soon be measured by how seamless your buying process is. And considering the inevitable growth of social buying, an integration of third party e-commerce tools will be crucial for successful B2C social media marketing. Some of these tools to watch for include LIKEtoKNOW.it and shopify.

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