As technology continues evolving, new issues emerge in the corporate world that business leaders never had to deal with before. Given the far-reaching effects that new technologies can have on the business world and society in general, keeping track of emerging trends is an important part of running a business. As more companies expand into the social media space and embrace an omnichannel approach to e-commerce, these trends and the potential issues they represent are more important than ever.
Social media has exploded as an extension of the business world in recent years. In fact, one of the biggest business communication trends 2018 had to offer was the continued adoption of social media platforms beyond Facebook as a function of company branding. Studies show that companies with an active social media presence are able to more directly reach and influence consumers, and also have higher levels of employee engagement as well. It makes sense that companies continue to grow in the social media space and will make even further use of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and other sites moving into the future.
With that said, an expanded social media presence also opens companies up to emerging issues in business communication. The actions of employees are often seen to reflect on a company, even if they aren't acting in an official capacity. Gaffes and other online mistakes are also easily shared, making it much more difficult to do damage control online.
Depending on the platform, spam and coordinated negative review attacks can also harm a company's social presence. These are all issues that need to be considered when planning a company's social media presence, as ignoring them can have potentially huge consequences when it comes to reaching and relating to consumers.
When looking at emerging issues in the business environment, the concept of information inflation or "Big Data" cannot be overlooked. This refers to the ease with which businesses can collect data, often at a reduced cost compared to information gathering in previous decades. The problem is that there is so much data available that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to manage and analyze without the use of technology. Creating an effective Big Data strategy is essential to competing in modern markets, and will only become more important as new data collection technologies are developed.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are growing in importance in the business world. Modern AI and related technologies are used in a number of ways including creating adaptive user interfaces on consumer products, analyzing data to make informed predictions, controlling manufacturing processes and even designing systems that can operate using voice or facial recognition. Some business leaders have concerns about AI becoming too "smart" and potentially having a negative effect on the economy if they become too reliant on AI-based computer algorithms. At the same time, most business leaders realize that some forms of AI are important components of manufacturing, supply chain management and decision support technologies and as such will fill an increasingly vital role in the business world moving forward.
A spotlight has been placed on data security in recent years as increasingly serious data breaches have leaked the personal information of millions upon millions of consumers. As companies collect more and more data on their customers, one of the emerging issues in business ethics centers around keeping that information safe. A business needs to have a cybersecurity and data security plan in place to protect customer data, especially if that data contains sensitive information such as credit card numbers and personally identifying information.
Even entrepreneurs are affected by the way that technology is changing our lives. Startups and other small businesses sometimes run out of coworking spaces instead of a traditional office, and the increased availability of telecommuting and remote work allows teams to collaborate across the country or around the world. This presents a number of advantages to entrepreneurs, but it also opens up additional concerns about security and establishing a well-running company without a more traditional infrastructure behind it as well.