Great CEOs are always trying to see what's next--the thing around the corner that they need to prepare their business for. That's especially true as we enter a new year.
As a way to shed some light on what I see coming down the pike in 2016, here are my six predictions on the kinds of macro forces that could disrupt your business if you're not doing your best to prepare for them.
1. The "Uberization" Of Everything.
The brilliant idea at the core of Uber, the now ubiquitous car-sharing service, was to find a way to release a stranded asset: the car. Most cars are used about only 10% of the time--which is incredibly low. Uber's genius is that it offers a way to tap information technology to increase the utilization of those assets. It's a powerful concept and we've already seen it spread to sectors like real estate where disruptors like AirBnB have already caused ripples in the nation's housing market. But this is just the beginning. Starting in 2016, you can bet on seeing even more assets liberated with the help of technology: your pet's vet will come to your house on demand; you'll be able to hire a mechanic right when you need them; and you'll be able to get access to the most delicious food whenever you want it. You'll even be able to hop a ride on your own private jet. The point is that any underutilized asset you can imagine will be "Uberized" in 2016--and you need to be ready to take advantage of that.
2. Uberization Will Jump The Shark In 2016.
You might recall that I just predicted that we are on the cusp of an age of Uberization, where underutilized assets of all kinds will become revenue-generating machines in 2016. Well, there is a downside to that shift as well as we will see this trend reach comical levels. There will be plenty of attempts to fund startups trying to leverage an insane array of assets and this will destroy vast amounts of wealth. Get ready for the Uberization of clowns. It's coming.
3. Physical Assets Become A Liability.
It used to be that owning a physical asset--such as a building or a piece of equipment--was a valuable thing to build a business around. Just think about a prestigious university: having plenty of ivy-covered buildings would make your organization seem staid, stable, and, well, collegiate. But in 2016, we will increasingly start to value physical assets like these more as liabilities. This is exactly why Uberization has taken flight--because you can't maximize the value of physical assets. If we move back to our education example, it's why we will see the explosion of online and virtual education options explode in 2016. We're already seeing the proliferation of online learning options in the collegiate world. But next year, we'll see this trend extend into high school education as well where we will see multiple examples of schools delivering a completely virtual online experience. No doubt, we will see protests from highly entrenched stakeholders in this debate. But in the end, the data--the performance and test scores--will prove that this trend is here to stay and it will completely change our education system from top to bottom. Education will become locationless.
4. Your Workforce Will Become Virtualized.
Another thing that will become virtual in 2016 is your workforce. We will increasingly see that people will only come together when they need to get something done, which they will do via tools like Google Meetup via the web. More and more work will get done this way rather than through face-to-face interactions. (On a related note, we will then see much more Uberization of office space.) The real challenge for leaders and managers is that with a virtual workforce, you will need to learn new techniques for maximizing the potential of your team now that you can't watch them or call them into your office. That means you need to change how you lead--now.
5. Prepare For More Wage And Hour Lawsuits.
As the workforce becomes more virtualized next year, we're going to see further disruption in how people are paid. The current laws and regulations when it comes to wage and hour just simply aren't set up to handle this. The rules the government has set up to protect people from companies just won't apply anymore. If you work virtually, for example, having defined breaks every four hours becomes far less important as an issue. That's why we will increasingly see lawyers pursuing lawsuits to attack these discontinuities.
6. You Will Have A Hard Time Recruiting Great Talent.
If you think you face challenges today landing great people for your organization, just wait until next year--especially if you haven't established a greater purpose for where you're going. Having an authentic mission and purpose for your company that states how you will change the world will become the single greatest distinction for organizations trying to attract talent over the next decade. Think about organizations like Tom's Shoes and Whole Foods, companies that "do good" while also earning a profit. You need to do that, too. Also, you'll need to create the kind of virtual office environment that younger workers demand. Think about it: kids these days don't talk to each other, let alone on the phone. They use texts and instant messaging to communicate. Is your organization set up to allow them to communicate that at work as well? If not, you need to build those capabilities now if you want to attract top talent in the next year.
The next year promises to bring lots of opportunities for your organization. But to take full advantage of them, you'll need to head into 2016 with your eyes open as to these six disrupting challenges you'll need to confront first. Good luck!