The top 5 business trends of 2015

Peter Crush

Tuesday 6 January 2015

If you thought 2014 was marked by constant change, just wait till you see what’s around the corner. Our pick of five key trends for 2015 reveals what you can expect in the year ahead.

1) The five generation workplace

In 2015, the first cohort from ‘Generation Z’ (i.e. those born after 1999) enter the workforce for the first time, meaning organisations now have another group to contend with in addition to an already crowded office of Baby Boomers, Generation X- and Y-ers.

With the number of economically active over-65s showing no signs of diminishing (they grew by 10 per cent just in the last year alone, source: UK Commission for Employment and Skills), young people in particular are going to have to get used to being stuck in lower paid positions for longer, as those at the top take longer to retire. Managers will have to juggle multiple employee expectations (Gen X want to just get on, Gen Y want work-life balance, while Gen Z need more hand-holding and praise), while communication channels will need to diversify – from email to instant messaging and collaboration.

2) Heads in cloud

This year is already being dubbed the ‘Year of the Cloud’. It’s also the tipping point when Microsoft says it expects to make more money from the cloud than on-premise software. That means offices will increasingly be places people congregate in occasionally rather than every day, as the technological barriers to working from home are all but removed.

Earlier this year, the ONS reported record numbers of people working from home. They now comprise 13.9 per cent (or 4.2 million) of all those in work – the highest proportion since records began in 1998. Of these, 14.8 per cent are managers/senior officials, while 35.2 per cent are professionals. The South West has the highest proportion of people working from home (at 17.1 per cent), with London in fifth place at 13.6 per cent.

3) The skills gap will turn into a skills chasm

According to Capgemini Consulting, the war for talent will increasingly be faced with a ‘Digital Talent Gap’ that shows no signs of diminishing. It predicts 4.4 million jobs globally will be created around Big Data alone by 2015, but rather worryingly, a third of them will remain unfilled, as the skills employers want are increasingly not being met by the talent entering the workforce. Even the arrival of Generation Z won’t help matters, as this group of workers has been branded with the lowest level of analytical acumen (according to the American Management Association). But businesses aren’t doing themselves any favours either, with the MIT Centre for Digital Business suggesting only 46 per cent of companies are investing in the development of digital skills.

4) Employment will be ad hoc and project-based and will encourage open innovation

During the recession, contractors kept companies afloat by keeping full-time headcount costs down, but don’t bank on a return to pre-recession permanent hiring norms. Employers now understand the benefit of having geographically dispersed teams that come and go as projects do. Employers will increasingly turn to groups outside their natural networks to find new ideas from people in places they never expected. BT already has more than 60 studios around the world to bring virtual groups of people together, while platforms like Innocentive enable firms to find people that have the skills they need to solve one-off or ongoing problems. Proctor & Gamble’s Connect and Develop scheme taps into externally developed intellectual property, and is expected to deliver $3 billion towards its sales growth by 2015.

5) It’s all about mobile devices

In 2015, the world’s mobile worker population is expected to reach 1.3 billion (37.2 per cent of the workforce – source: IDC), with further growth predicted because of the ability to enable staff to control their hours, follow their passions and eliminate commuting. Mobile working will continue to be a disruptive phenomenon, with IT departments needing to devise so-called ‘Enterprise Mobility Management’ strategies. These can include everything from exponentially increasing BYOD help services to collaboration technologies – such as Yammer – and virtualisation technologies.

So, apart from having to mind the gap, it seems that Baby Boomers and Generations X, Y and Z will be sharply focused on the cloud, as well as mobility, crowdsourcing and whether they’re actually likely to get more work done at home than in the office.

To find out more about the technology trends set to impact business in 2015, download our free Guide to the Top 10 Tech Trends Shaping Business.

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