As we look forward to another year, just about every business will be engaged with their strategic planning for 2017, which will no doubt continue on into the new year.

To do a thorough job, most leadership teams will be doing a ton of research on the emerging business trends most likely to shape the environment they’re working in. Whether this is in the shape of a more formal SWOT or PEST analysis, or just as an information gathering exercise, it’s important to have some credible resources to work from .

But most predictions posts are written by other companies with an agenda, wanting to push their particular solution or industry as the next big thing in 2017.

So to try and get a more balanced view, I reached out to 9 successful entrepreneurs and professional trend analysts, senior business leaders and respected consultants to get their 2017 predictions.

They are:

And what do they have to say? Here are the 12 headline trends they foresee being impacting businesses in 2017:

  • Marketplaces will get ever more important for local businesses wanting to access global markets;
  • Voice enabled AI will be a huge opportunity and used much more widely;
  • Machine learning will enable all kinds of efficient business processes, with fintech being a huge beneficiary;
  • Users will increasingly become savvy about having control over services and their data, so products will need to keep building features that make people feel empowered;
  • Transparency will become less of a differentiator and more of a basic necessity for businesses wanting to win business and Millennial talent;
  • Data security will be ubiquitous as a competency every business needs, and no doubt the demand for cyber security skillsets will rise in line with the need to protect data from ever more serious, sophisticated and frequent attacks;
  • eSports will continue evolving as an interesting platform for brands and advertisers looking for news ways to connect with their highly engaged audiences;
  • Businesses will start to wise up the huge potential of Whatsapp as a communication (and promotional) tool;
  • Inventory search will help set apart forward looking retailers who want to connect with time-poor shoppers than know what they want;
  • Cross-generational mentoring will unlock a ton of value across businesses if they can embrace the dynamic;
  • High street retailers will continue to get better at eCommerce, but traditional online-only eCommerce stores (like Amazon) will be encroaching on their physical space just as quickly;
  • Blockchain will continue to help drive innovation in online trade, but it’s uses will start to be adopted more broadly across finance, supply chains, cloud computing and more.

That’s a lot of change and disruption on our doorstop!

It’s going to be a busy (and no doubt equally unpredictable) year, but these 2017 predictions will give you a head start on which emerging business trends you need to pay attention to, keeping you one step ahead of disruption, and helping you own your future.

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