Trends in Business Management
Business is all about competition, and competition is all about doing something better than those you compete with. Business managers are well aware of this—that’s why they constantly improve efficiency and study the ever-changing marketplace. For businesses and students with an eye on the future, opportunities are everywhere. Here are some of the trends that have been shaping modern business along with the strategies modern business managers are deploying to stay ahead of the trends:
Globalization—Arguably, the biggest trend influencing business is the continuing growth and changes in international trade. Formerly “emerging” markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China are now gigantic export powers currently overtaking traditional economic leaders year by year. And the continent that holds six of the top ten fastest growing national economies . . . is Africa. The good news is, global trade is anything but a one-way street—economic activity isn’t perfectly balanced, but it flows in every direction.
Needless to say, business managers have been paying attention. They’ve found that understanding the culture of each trading partner is crucial. They do their best to stay current with—and influence—a complex web of international laws to facilitate growth in global trade, they seek out the cheapest sources for raw materials and labor, and they take advantage of new markets to sell into. They’ve studied worldwide demographic trends, and they know that the growing populations of emerging market nations tilt heavily toward the young.
As for students, those studying international relations, law, marketing, and foreign languages are positioning themselves wisely. Some languages to consider: Mandarin, Spanish, Tagalog, French, Arabic, and Vietnamese. Enrolling in Study Abroad programs can be helpful as well. And new business owners need to look closely at opportunities to import and export a wide range of items, the tourism industry, opening international offices, and having their web content available in multiple languages.
Technology—Technology is only a “trend” because it constantly changes. For instance, the technology of the industrial revolution is now secondary to the technology available through the information revolution. IT influences marketing by making it more global, targeted, and ubiquitous. IT influences manufacturing by making it more automated, specialized, and faster. IT influences distribution by making it more sensitive to minute shifts in supply and demand and events along the supply chain. IT has connected world markets and helped expand the globalization trend discussed above.
Business managers use technology to their advantage beyond the realms of marketing, manufacturing, and distribution. They’ve learned to enable segments of their workforces to work from anywhere, and they’ve fine-tuned the analysis of every possible type of business data. Students who can use multiple types of software—or can help develop applications of their own—are definitely more marketable.
Sustainability—More and more customers are demanding products that promise sustainability as a part of their brand identity. For instance, they want organic food, environmentally friendly packaging, and products that use less energy to make and operate. They’ll pay more for products and services that are community-based and produced by workers who are treated fairly. The message to business managers is clear: Corporate responsibility matters to consumers.
But more than just do-gooderism influences the trend toward sustainability—business managers know that the world’s natural resources are limited and getting more expensive. They take note when governments write tougher laws regarding pollution. And when a business behaves irresponsibly, word can get out quickly and damage a reputation badly—management always tries to avoid that.
Be aware students: There are huge opportunities in addressing/solving social problems like access to healthcare, new energy resources, and creating a cleaner environment.
Psychology—Like technology, the study of human behavior can only be viewed as “trendy” if it’s understood in the context of constant evolution. As individuals and as members of groups, what motivates, satisfies, and bothers people is valuable information that changes significantly over time.
To business managers, human behavior refers to people as consumers and as employees, and they study the latest findings from the world of psychology to maximize business relationships with both. Learning how best to effectively engage with people through all forms of media is always important. So is managing the overlap between communications, advertising, sociology, neuroscience, demographics, marketing, and labor relations. That’s why managers experiment with insights into human rationality and emotions—people are complicated and so are the strategies to connect with them.
Students looking to go into business someday should plan on learning all they can about their clients and their workers. After all, there are astute business managers carefully studying you all the time!
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