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6 Ways Business Could Change in 2013

At long last, the fax machine may finally die. Read on for more shifts next year that may change how you do business.

Time to dust off the crystal ball and start looking to the future. These might not seem like game-changers quite yet, but how you respond (and make plans) for these trends could impact your bottom line dramatically.

1. Reverse outsourcing will pick up speed.

Everyone knows the jobless rate is too high in the U.S. Himanshu Sareen, the CEO of IT service provider Icreon Tech says he sees an interesting trend for 2013 developing that will involve "redistributing jobs." That's a fancy way of saying businesses will bring jobs back to the U.S. from overseas. Even Apple has announced it plans to start building manufacturing facilities here, despite what Steve Jobs once told President Obama.

2. Reputation management gets serious.

I first wrote about reputation management in a recent column in Inc. According to Leah Luddine from TrendSetter Communications, businesses will become even more concerned about what others are saying about their brand on social networks. She says the issue will become more important because of a greater need for accuracy in reviews of a company service or how a brand is covered online, and because tools like Reputation.com now work more effectively.

3. Flash will finally give way to HTML5.

Mobile browsers used to run slowly unless you had a fast 4G connection. That's changing all across the U.S., which means the technology behind the browser will start to change. Case in point: HTML5 can transmit rich content on your phone without the burden of compatibility. That's why Peter Friedman, the CEO of content management company LiveWorld, says HTML5 will start to replace Adobe Flash for movies, animations, and other rich content.

4. Email will decline slowly and painfully. 

We've seen this one coming for years. Anyone under 20 barely uses email anymore. But LiveWorld's Friedman says email will decline even more in 2013 as businesses switch to social networks like Yammer and start broadcasting shorter messages on Twitter and through SMS. These more instant communication methods result in faster businesses processes, and we can all appreciate that.

5. The end of email marketing is coming.

Speaking of the decline of email in business, Friedman says you can expect another trend in 2013: As online survey tools and apps for idea generation (not to mention live chat tools like Google Hangout) become more popular, he says there won't be as much of a need for mass emails and bulk newsletters. If you can reach people using something like SurveyMonkey.com, why go bulk?

6. The fax machine will finally die.

There is one obvious reason why the fax machine has not died yet: No one can figure out how to make digital signatures work in the legal and real estate professions. In 2013, businesses will finally give in to a solid alternative like DocuSign and skip the paper contracts. Faxing, RIP.

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Last updated: Dec 27, 2012

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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