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Business Innovation From Those Nonsense 2015 Predictions?

2015 predictions, business innovation, performance improvement,

Squeeze out the nonsense.

2015 is going to be a challenging year for business innovation as your best path to performance improvement.  Why?  Because people are predicting “more of the same in 2015”.  Your best chance for success in 2015 lies in ignoring most of the 2015 predictions you’ve read.  We’ll squeeze out the nonsense; we’ll show you how to discover their real value.

Our Exclusive (Really!) Survey of Surveys

We at GoodBusiness prepared for this article by reviewing 15 of the most highly ranked (by Google, at least) articles on business predictions for 2015.  For reference, they are:

  1. 21 Tech Predictions for 2015 | Fox Business
  2. 11 Bold Predictions For 2015 – Business Insider
  3. Gartner Predicts Top 2015 And Beyond Trends For Technology, IT Organizations, And Consumers
  4. 10 Small-Business Predictions for 2015 | OPEN Forum
  5. Forrester Research
  6. 29 predictions for 2015: Fortune’s Crystal Ball
  7. Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2015 and Beyond #GartnerSYM
  8. Gartner Reveals Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2015 and Beyond
  9. 50 Big Ideas, Predictions and Trends for Small Business in 2015
  10. 2015 Global Economic Outlook: Better Than 2014—but Not By Much – Businessweek
  11. Small Business Predictions For 2015
  12. 10 Marketing Predictions You Should Prepare for in 2015
  13. 15 Predictions to Shake Up Business in 2015
  14. 2015 Small Business SEO Predictions | Social Media Today
  15. 12 Retail Trends and Predictions 2015 | 12 retail trends and predictions to watch for

You’ll recognize some of the most trusted providers of business information: Forbes, Fortune, Gartner, Forrester Research, Businessweek, and others.

Then, we applied the powerful approach we explained in our GoodBusiness Monday article.

We use two analysis secrets to uncover the real value of all those articles.

First: ignore the forecasts, numbers, predicted events and “exclusive analysis”.  Ignore them because looking at the business past is a notoriously unreliable way to predict the business future.

Second: Discover the perceptions hidden in those articles and pay close attention to them.  Push that amazing analysis organ, your brain, into overload.  Quickly read 15 prediction articles.  At the end of 15 articles you can’t remember many facts, but the overloaded brain has distilled a series of perceptions.  Perception is the lens your customer uses to see the world.

By ignoring the predictions and discovering the perceptions, you’re one step closer to putting yourself in your customer’s shoes.

The (Un)surprising But Profitable Results

The predictions reveal a a lot about the predictors.  Here’s what your business customers (B2B) think:

  1. Successful firms believe the trends on which they built their last few quarters’ profits will continue.  When asked, they will reinforce the primacy of their company’s core offerings.
  2. Research believe that their research is valuable and you should pay for it.  (Since they receive their fees from their clients, refer to item 1 above.)
  3. Groupthink (mobile expansion, the importance of big data, social media, and increasing automation) will continue to be valid.

According to the 2015 predictions, business people of every stripe are busy reading their own press clippings or following the highest Google-ranked groupthink.

Bottom line: selling something really new (that isn’t an extension of current wants, or current absorption capacity) is going to (continue to) be really hard.

What do your consumer customers (B2C) think?  Incredibly, no one asked them.  Perhaps their views don’t make for very interesting predictions, or perhaps the customers don’t agree with the business.  Regardless of the reason, their views have been left out of the 2015 predictions   Therefore, we’re going to have to apply Jim Wang’s maxim that “even if there’s no data you still have to make a decision.”

Here’s my instinct about individual consumers in 2015:

  1. Your individual understanding of your own customers is probably your best source of decision-making information.
  2. In the absence of data, go with your gut, based on what you’ve seen about your own customers.
  3. Customers’ human nature hasn’t changed.  Customers will continue to (a) love to save money, (b) need real selling/convincing to buy into a better overall value if it’s not cheaper and (b) be ready and willing to be surprised and delighted.

Bottom line: consumer behavior isn’t changing much, either.

In 2015 Innovate and Improve Performance for Success by Doing This

What are the best bets for business innovation? We’ll place just one bet. Since so many customers are betting on and implementing automation, customers have grown to expect more of it.  Innovation?  Either give them much more automation, or give them a real person.  If this is a year when people don’t expect big change, working harder for big changes should pay off in outsize results.  After that… where it makes sense, spend money on getting real people to interact with the customer.

Resist buzz phrases like “customer engagement” and “the customer experience”  Instead, ask in plain language “What can we do to put a smile on our customers’ faces and more money in their pockets?”  Then say “What?  Say that again, more specifically.”  Follow up with “How can we do that?” and keep probing with “Break that down into bitesize chunks.”

The role of automation?  You’ll find process or technology automation is your answer to “better, faster, cheaper” in many instances.  Except when we’re talking about customer problems or complaints.  Then, the answer is often a real person empowered to make decisions that you’d never trust to automation.

How should you approach performance improvement?  Since so many people believe that trends will continue, don’t follow the crowd.  Aim for big performance improvements.  You can take big risks on a single big improvement or… and this is the approach we recommend… you make lots of small performance improvements  Since your making progress in small steps (i.e. 1+1+1+1…), you should focus on what you can measure, to make sure that each step is really helping.

Embark on a kaizen (continuous improvement) campaign so that your small results add up to a big performance improvement over time. We wrote briefly about kaizen, so that you can easily discover its benefits by reading this post.

Extra Bonus Insight

By the way, if you’re plunging into business innovation through continuous improvement, you’ll be happy to know that you’re not committing to big investments or the latest technology.  We’ve found that many innovative businesses see performance improvement from process changes.  Others find that relatively simple technology changes, combined with process changes, give excellent results.  How excellent?  A sustained kaizen campaign can cut cost, effort and time by 50% to 80% by the end of the campaign. Those are remarkable benefits… but businesses large and small, in both product and service markets, have done it.

You can, too.

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