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What Were The Largest Trends In 2011, And What Does The Future Look Like?


by Christian Lanng, CEO of Tradeshift

2011 was the year where global economy shaped the life for companies everywhere. The global recession has also had a massive effect on technology and start-ups, but just as often as new opportunities rather than challenges.

Global finance is being remade. As the global financial system came to a halt and liquidity dried up a new generation of startups have been trying to remake it ranging from companies like Dwolla creating new ways to get paid to what we are doing in Tradeshift with Instant Payments for companies. Fuelling this revolution is both innovations in the infrastructure such as mobile payments, but also much better financial data on transactions

Unemployment is the new normal. With youth unemployment approaching 30% in Spain and 20% in the US, 2011 was the year we saw the very real world effects of the financial crisis that started in 2008, but it coexists with the largest boom of startups in the last 10 years a lot of those who give up finding a real job are now building their own companies instead, this is great if it leads to new employment and growth and often it’s easier to see the opportunities outside the system than inside.

Based on 2011 I think it’s possible to make a range of predictions for 2012 that basically is an acceleration of the trends we have seen in 2011:

1. Local will be the new global.

A lot of manufacturing and sourcing of services are going to be local again.  Rising cost of transport will force larger customers to buy locally and a new generation of low cost automated manufacturing equipment will make small business competitive again.

2. Job creation will be #1 priority.

The current job crisis has highlighted the necessity for companies to create sustainable businesses that create jobs. Job creation is going to be politically rewarded, but also expected by the general public, so expect it to be part of the CSR codex.  This feeds back into the growth of local as the new focus for sourcing.

3. Innovation will matter more than capital.

The rise of start-ups and a new renaissance in venture funding means that what matters most is going to be ideas and the ability to execute them. The growth stars of 2012 is going to be small companies, as they can execute faster and the infrastructure to run a business is getting increasingly cheaper.  Finally there will be no money in the banks, so innovation capital is your best bet for cash flow.

4. Business software will be about you.

The last generation of business software was meant to optimize your back-office, make accounting easier and keep up with tax rules.  The new generation of business software is going to focus on creating value for your business, connect your customers and suppliers in a network and make it easier for you, not your accountant, to do business.

5. Technology will disrupt everything (again).

Cloud computing, mobile and social networks are three mega trends reinforcing each other.  The cost of software will go down radically and you will have access to all your business information no matter where you go.  Finally software will be connected, both inside and outside the company.


What is your view?

Christian Lanng is CEO of Tradeshift (www.tradeshift.com) is a global startup with the ambition to change the way we do business by allowing organizations to exchange invoices for free.  It connects businesses to all their suppliers and customers regardless of company size not only saving time but also ensuring they get paid faster at both ends of the supply chain.