THE TOP 10 MOST INFLUENTIAL TRENDS OF THE LAST DECADE
As we celebrate the dawning of a new decade, we look back at the previous decade and the trends that helped shape major changes over the years. In short, the 2010s were disruptive. Technology, sustainability, and the internet were all factors in the significant growth many businesses experienced over the last ten years. Here are ten of the biggest trends that defined the 2010s.
BIG TECH & SAAS
With the major boom of technology in the 2010s, businesses relied heavily on sourcing data to study how consumers think. This need for analytics opened the door for many tech startups to provide this service. The development of Software as a Service (SaaS) products became a popular trend for B2B in the 2010s. In the 2000s, businesses relied on expensive conference calls and data analysis platforms. New tools such as Skype, UberConference, and Hubspot (some completely free) diminished the importance of traditional platforms and created convenience for B2B relationships.
Over the past 10 years, consumers have demanded that more businesses become environmentally conscious. Businesses needed to respond to this while still meeting financial demands to ensure a responsible, ethical, and ongoing success. The traditional bottom line, profit, and loss, soon developed into a three pillar process. Social, environmental and economic demands are considered the three pillars of sustainability. Many businesses engaged in widespread redesign of products, processes, and whole systems to optimize natural resource efficiencies and risk management across their value chains. Although this practice takes time to reach a full ROI, the end result is increased profitability. Investments in socially ethical practices may initially be costly, but these changes typically lead to enhanced recruitment, branding, and public relations (PR) opportunities.
INCREASE IN US ENERGY INDEPENDENCE
At the beginning of the 2010s, the U.S. imported a lot of oil, but as we enter the 2020s, it will now be looking to export it. Thanks to the shale-gas revolution, the U.S’s reliance on the Middle East has greatly diminished. In fact, the United States has so much natural gas that it often burns off excess that can’t be stored. Heading into the 2020s, the U.S. is seeking energy production independence and plans to work hard in order to satisfy the needs of its people and businesses domestically. This will fundamentally change the geopolitical landscape and challenge many assumptions we take for granted about how the world economy works.
WOMEN IN BUSINESS
You go, girl! This past decade marked the rise of women in business. From 2007 to 2016, women-owned enterprises increased by 45%, according to a 2018 report by the SCORE Association. Women are now leading businesses at an unprecedented rate. Women of all ages are launching businesses. While 76% in SCORE’s report and 65.5% in one from American Express—are 35 to 64, millennials and seniors are also making their mark. Not only are women-run businesses in sectors such as retail, education, healthcare, arts and travel, and marketing, they are also starting businesses in construction and manufacturing. Although women creating businesses in STEM is still a rarity, it’s likely to increase in the new decade, the same way other fields increased in the 2010s.
The 2010s was also the birth of the greatest online business trend - online shopping. In 2010, eCommerce accounted for only 7.2% of retail sales in the US. By the end of 2018, it had doubled to 14.3% of total retail sales. In 2010, worldwide eCommerce sales were $572 billion. It’s projected that at the end of 2019, online sales will reach $3.46 trillion--- with China being the single largest market. That is a 504% growth in the decade.
The rise of mobile shopping (mCommerce) came in this decade as well. At first, users did not engage in the downloading of apps, but as time went on, more users started to utilize mobile apps to make purchases. In fact, by 2017, 34% of eCommerce transactions were done through mobile phones. Businesses began to use SaaS platforms like WooCommerce and Shopify to make their websites more shoppable. Further, brands began to shift their marketing to reach consumers while they were already online.
This leads us into our next big trend - digital marketing.
Digital marketing includes email marketing, social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, and pay-per-click. The increase of eCommerce started the push for more digital marketing. Brands wanted to be in front of people whenever they could. Most social media and email marketing platforms were established in the early 2000s but weren’t considered business tools until around 2011. Now, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram makes it easy for consumers to discover brands and products. More and more customers are looking for brands to maintain a fun and engaging presence on social media that encourages people to like, comment, and share. The data collected from content engagement became a central part in personalized marketing because it tells brands who is interested in their product. By seeing who engaged/likes the content has helped businesses establish credibility and shift its visibility to the correct target market.
From the inside looking out, businesses have placed a bigger focus on a positive workplace culture in the past decade. Management, workplace practices, policies and procedures, and employees all play an important role in crafting your workplace culture. Businesses soon realized the direct correlation between creating and maintaining a positive work environment and increased employee retention; the happier your employees, the higher your retention rate. The higher your retention rate, the more a company attracts and retains good talent. By mid-2010s, businesses adopted the practice of “workplace flexibility” and realized less turnover, fewer new hires, and better chemistry within their teams.
In Rob Markey’s Harvard Business Review blog post, “Transform Your Employees Into Passionate Advocates,” he states, “Loyal, passionate employees bring a company as much benefit as loyal, passionate customers. They stay longer, work harder, work more creatively, and find ways to go the extra mile. They bring you more great employees. And that spreads even more happiness -- happiness for employees, for customers, and for shareholders.”
Who can forget the 2013 National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden? Snowden leaked information that the NSA had conducted widespread surveillance of American’s online and phone communications. After this breach, there were a series of other high-profile and government breaches. Some surveys have shown that this violated the trust of many users and caused them to be more aware of what personal data they share. According to a survey conducted in 2019, “roughly six-in-ten Americans believe it is not possible to go through daily life without having their data collected.” We predict that businesses will place a strong emphasis on gaining the trust back from their consumers in this decade.
FALLING COST OF CAPITAL
In the 2010s, businesses began putting money into the economy, pushing interest rates lower and lower. Those with a strong credit rating who already owned assets going into the 2010s were given a massive boost in wealth thanks to these economic factors, while younger generations hoping to buy homes were suddenly priced out of the markets. Cheap capital has given rise to private-equity megafunds that can operate massive businesses without taking them public. We've even seen money pour into alternative currencies as millions of people struggle to trust traditional fiat.
AR & AI
Innovation was probably one of the most important trends this past decade. Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) have been exciting sources of entertainment, but are also quickly becoming a new advantage to business. Whether it’s architecture firms using these forms of realities to give their clients a virtual blueprint where they can physically see what their space will look like, or supervisors being able to virtually inspect machinery remotely in a factory across the world, AR/VR is taking over. You can’t talk about augmented reality without also talking about artificial intelligence. There isn’t a single business sector that won’t be radically transformed by AI and ML in the coming ten years, with both set to radically change the ways we live and work. Self-driving cars, early medical detection, and extreme weather events will be predicted and mitigated with more accuracy.
Did you forget about all of these? The 2020s have a lot of expectations to meet, but seeing how fast the last decade was, the future is very promising.