I'm going on record as designating 2016, "The Year of the Millennial."

There is no doubt in my mind that this year represents a tipping point among the number of 30-somethings reaching the management ranks of organizations around the globe. Because of this build-up of critical mass, we can assume that these newly minted Gen Y managers will greatly influence this year's business agenda.

Here are 8 business predictions for how the coming year will be shaped by Millennial-inspired sensibilities:

  1. Business will continue to adapt to a dynamic and transient workforce:
    Gen Y has sparked a tremendous uptick in free agency within the workforce. This reality has presented a challenge for businesses that are unaccustomed to working with temporary staff. Thus, 2016 will be the year that businesses embrace this workplace trend as the new normal and begin to put provisions in place that enable free agent personnel to be trained in the organization's operating policies, procedures and quality standards, so that they can assimilate quickly and deliver desired results in the most effective ways possible.
  2. New benefit packages will be incorporated into company offerings:
    Driven by Millennial sensibilities, businesses will be compelled to offer more "tailor-able" and enhanced "lifestyle" benefits to employees. We are already seeing concierge services, childcare and eldercare offerings emerge in benefit packages. This trend will continue as a new generation of leaders come into influential positions. Look for other Gen Y-inspired perks including College Debt Relief and Super Flex-time (i.e., work schedules managed in annually, rather than weekly, increments) concepts being introduced to the benefits scene in 2016.
  3. Politically Correct advertising will begin to saturate ad space:
    In 2015,we've seen businesses begin to leverage a broader palette, than ever before, in their characterization of American life in their ads. Consequently, demonstrating diversity and inclusion is becoming hip. That said, this year we will see more businesses following suit (or, managing the damage that can come from being left behind).
  4. The "sharing economy" will grow legit:
    Airbnb and Uber are proving that the business model works. Look to 2016 as being the year that the sharing economy blossoms. Watch for businesses that enable job sharing, knowledge and skill trading and micro-lending emerging on the horizon.Business leaders within traditional businesses must begin to wrestle with how they can embrace this trend and leverage it for competitive gain.
  5. "Commerce Anywhere" concepts will continue to mature:
    Don't expect business app development to diminish this year. Rather, expect continued growth and innovation in this space. Convenience is what we demand and businesses will continue to innovate to deliver that convenience to their customers. The re-use of existing, conventional technology and its tie to an expanded use of Internet of Things concepts will likely represent the next frontier of mobile computing in 2016.
  6. Increased cloud offerings will level the playing field:
    Enabled by cloud computing, the time is quickly coming where information systems will be consumable through subscription. This means that even the smallest business can compete with the big boys. When this idea is fully realized, systems leverage will not be a competitive advantage any more than access to water or electricity is today. The question for business leaders in 2016 is: "When will we embrace this concept and get out of the business of building and maintaining our own systems?"
  7. Personal data will continue to be commoditized:
    Will 2016 be the year that individuals begin to recognize that their personal information, web surfing habits and buying preferences are worth more than a free newsletter? Look for businesses emerging on the scene that offer to commoditize your personal information for you in exchange for a cut of the action.
  8. Terrorist threats will inspire new technological innovations:
    There is a fine line between the need for personal privacy and public safety. The continuing threat of terrorism will drive technological innovations that will preserve privacy, while extending the ability to identify terrorist activity before it can be parlayed into an act of violence and devastation. This need represents a growth industry opportunity for American businesses in the coming year.

These new leaders will drive the breakthrough thinking needed to overcome the challenges that lie ahead. It is through their leadership, coupled with guidance from more senior advisors, that the sea-level changes predicted above will come to fruition. It is our jobs to prepare our organizations to leverage the tremendous opportunities that will arise as a result.

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