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50 Big Ideas, Predictions and Trends for 2011 and Beyond

slinky-11092702 Credit: Slinky

Solopreneurs, the human cloud, social shopping. They may be new now, but we’re betting that by the end of 2011, these terms will have seeped into your everyday conversations.

BusinessNewsDaily has spent the year reporting the latest business news, talking to small- business owners and consulting with the experts on what’s hot now and what the future holds for business owners. Here, we bring our findings together in one place to give you a clear picture of what 2011 may hold for your business.

Our sources are industry experts, consultants, thought leaders and small-business owners themselves. The list is quick, but comprehensive, so be sure to bookmark it so you can refer back to it during the year. For now, sit back, take it in and start dreaming about how you’re going to put these big ideas to work for you.


We are entering a dynamic and creative era for retail, thanks to mobile. I fully expect mobile online shopping to become a mainstream consumer behavior in the U.S. over the next year or so.
— Mark Beccue, senior analyst of consumer mobility at ABI Research

Social shopping is communicating with your network and sharing what you find. We used to go out to the mall with our friends. Now you can connect with your network. Social shopping is just going to keep growing. You’ve got to go where the consumers are
— Denise de Castro, director of production for Flightpath, an interactive agency in New York

I think this 24/7 layer of connectedness we’ve added has really ramped up the feeling that life is going out of control. The first warning sign is usually a heightened sense of having too much going on that requires a constant toggling of our attention. You don’t really know how addicted you are. You’re skating on the surface of your day. We’re not built to handle that onslaught of information.
— William Powers, author of Hamlet’s Blackberry

Media tablets will soar, with iPad holding a big lead in spite of lots of company. Last year we correctly called the iPad — its name, form factor and operating system. This year, we predict that the media tablet phenomenon will continue to explode: more than 42 million devices will ship worldwide, strongly surpassing shipments of mini-notebooks (netbooks) — the market phenomenon of just two years ago.
— 2011 Predictions Team and IDC, a research company serving the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets

Outsourcing social media such as blogs, writing e-mails, answering customer service inquiries, writing web copy, social media, ghostwritten blogs, tweets. People don’t always have the availability to write, tweet, research and post their own content.
— Josh Last, founder of GlobeTask,

You can’t have a successful offering without a mobile application. If you don’t have a mobile offering, you’re missing a giant opportunity to engage audiences. Mobile gives you an opportunity to instill the essence of your service.
— Alex Iskold, CEO of

If Gen Y gets its head on straight, we’ll be the most successful entrepreneurial generation in history. Future generations will then finally be taught entrepreneurship in school as mandatory curriculum versus an elective hobby. However, unless we stop listening to the older generations who do not and will never get it, we will become a truly lost generation. – Scott Gerber, entrepreneur and founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council

I think in the next five years you will see more and more large companies crowdsourcing key parts of their business as they see the benefits. And I think you'll see more and more people doing  crowdsourced work as a source of income.
— Lukas Biewald,  CEO of CrowdFlower

In today’s cost-conscious business environment, demand for hybrid events – a physical event with a virtual extension before, during or after the physical event takes place--will continue to grow. – Sharat Sharan, the President and CEO of ON24

Thinking green has gone beyond the ‘fringey-few’ and has come into the mainstream. And it’s fantastic. The more attention it gets, the more new products and services will be created to support it. Every time something is reused, it cuts down on the energy needed to create, package and ship it. – Matt Knox, co-founder of DiggersList

Sharing. We are moving away from a world where we aspired (in our personal lives and businesses) to own everything. Now, we can have access to goods and services with the same utility, convenience and enjoyment as owning them, but without the associated expense and hassles. This shift is at least in part powered by the little devices that we are all carrying around—the web-enabled mobile devices that allow us to easily reach out to find each other and locate “stuff.” Lisa Gansky, author of The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing

More companies will use tools to track social media ROI. Today, as brands start to create full-blown social media programs, the need to move beyond monitoring quickly arises. Tools that can allow brands to not only monitor the conversation but go the next step by mobilizing customers or prospective customers to engage with the brand and recommend its products will become more pervasive in 2011.
— Cara Fuggetta, marketing manager of

“There is significant intrinsic demand built up in the 1.3 billion population of China, which will allow creative entrepreneurs plenty of opportunities to expand overseas in 2011 and beyond. Small businesses have the advantage of being nimble and able to seize even the slightest niche markets by introducing foreign products of unique distinction. The same goods that are well received by Americans are often welcomed by the Chinese, which means there will be many repeats of historically successful product lines. After all, both sides have more similarities than differences and we can expect further convergence in the coming years.”
— Benjamin Wey, president of New York Global Group, U.S.-China business and trade relations expert

"Two years ago, flash sales were a new model to the U.S., but a lot of the brands are more familiar [with it] now. It's a very engaging way to keep customers excited and coming back to your store. I think you'll start to see more aspects of this model translate into retail.
— Jason Ross, founder of

I think the hottest business trend for 2011 will be an e-commerce-social-shopping experience, built around the context of what the user is reading.
— Ron Zeligzon,

[The year] 2011 will mark the year that online advertising vendors become proactive and aggressive about protecting and communicating about consumer privacy. Online ad technologies have skyrocketed in efficiency, and with that corporations (all industries) have/will demand greater use, which has drawn massive consumer interest.
— Steve Mnich,

Virtual offices and co-working will thrive in 2011 as savvy small-business owners and entrepreneurs figure out they can have access to enterprise level amenities at a fraction of the cost.
— Bobby Freeman,

Recruiters have a distinct edge in the down economy. Millions of people are looking for work, including those with advanced degrees. Companies and organizations will increasingly hire project-based work, sometimes for free. This provides both a cheap source of labor for the employer and is a way to test potential employees with an actual project before they are hired on a full-time basis.
— Igor Khayet,

I would say Internet TV will only get hotter in 2011 as more Web-connected TVs come to market and companies make specific applications for use on the big screen.
— Morgan Seal,

In the past few years, trends to catering to your pets have grown significantly. Companies have new policies where you can bring your pet to work, there are new pet day care centers that offices offer, and I think this trend will grow even further into ways to incorporate your pet into your business, whether it be marketing strategies, product integration, etc.
— Linsey Tilbor,

Online training/learning will expand outside the traditional box.  Not only will standardized training be delivered online, but sales and product training will be delivered online and via mobile devices.
— Craig Olson,

In 2011, were going to see businesses take a smarter approach to social media. For example, instead of simply deciding their company needs to be on Twitter, business execs will consider how social media can be added to the marketing toolbox. By taking a more strategic approach to social media, businesses will achieve better results that ultimately strengthen the bottom line.
— Heather Whaling,

Businesses continue to be skittish. As a result of the recession and the lack of confidence in both the economy and U.S. dollar, many organizations will continue to sit on assets and cash reserves. Instead of emphasizing growth in 2011, many businesses will focus on recovery and stability.
— Ron Wince,

Continued growth and acceptance of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. This industry is maturing as social media venues expand and people recognize the power of the crowd and how to utilize and monetize their personal networks, as well as the Internet community as a whole.
— Sally Outlaw,

The current privacy backlash will accelerate against social networks and the companies that combine and aggregate information scraped off the Web. Sophisticated tools are now available that scan everything that is recorded on the Web, from blog posts to Facebook “likes” and with increasing efficiency can combine and analyze that information into an intellectual, social, cultural and economic profile of the individual.
— Tony Shaw,

Groupon-type services for the business industry to market content and services. This is like putting social networking on steroids for people selling information and knowledge.
— Susan Harrow

Gamification.  Many companies are "gamifying" their products and services. They are studying human behaviors, and then employing game-like reward structures. Competition, camaraderie and immersion, all of these will increasingly be applied to a business setting.
— Erica Orange,

Micro-subscriptions. The first thing to go in any household when money is tight is cable TV. Smart companies realize that the most palatable form of premium entertainment is micro-subscriptions
— Ben Nesvig,

Mergers and acquisitions will be hot. I think the economy is improving more than we see in the press. I think that companies will try to acquire what they can while acquisition costs are relatively lower (coming off the recession).
— Elliott Baretz,

All signs are pointing toward a multicultural Web. By 2015, a billion people in BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India and China] will be using PCs. Thus, 2011 will mark the year that businesses either adapt to these changes or get left woefully behind.
— Swamy Viswanathan of Language Weaver

One of the hottest trends will be to target the U.S. federal government as a customer. Every year the feds spend over $550 billion with vendors all over the U.S., including small and large businesses. This is a tough but potentially very lucrative market and the door is open to new businesses who want to jump the hurdles to see success in a new market.
— Gloria Berthold Larkin,

Social game advertising and branding is really going to take off in 2011. As social games continue to rapidly grow in popularity, brands are beginning to take notice of the huge advertising potential.
— Ken Johnston,

Rewards programs will likely improve for prime credit card customers, but at the expense of higher annual fees. This has already started as premium rewards cards have increased promotional rewards payouts and annual fees.
— Tim Chen,

Booming technological advancement and social media legitimacy is allowing boutique firms across multiple industries the firepower to take on much larger competing firms.
— Guy Penn,

Mobile payment technology is definitely a hot business topic and trend for 2011 and it is no doubt the future of payments.
— Emma Lowenstein,

Corporate social responsibility is recognized as one of the top business risks. No company can afford the public scorn, government scrutiny, consumer backlash and employee contempt that is associated with being a bad corporate citizen.
— Ashok Kamal,

In-house and internal threats will be a big element of 2011 as organizations begin to understand that anti-virus/malware/phishing software is no longer effective. There will be an epiphany that critical infrastructure is under constant attack and that there is a serious need to implement more comprehensive security software, security perimeters, data loss prevention and human assets to counter the existing and expanding security threats.
— Philip Lieberman,

I think successful businesses in 2011 will continue to use social media as a means of communicating with existing and potential customers. As more commerce continues to move online and mobile, virtual referrals, including customer reviews and recommendations from friends via Facebook and Twitter, will become increasingly important.
— Tom Warthen,

By 2011, we will see a huge shift in brands moving from traditional advertising to mobile advertising, with mobile coupons and discounts leading the mobile advertising category. I will take a bet and predict that paper coupons and mass mailers will begin to phase out completely and businesses will allocate more than half of their marketing spent and efforts on reaching consumers through cell phones.
— Mike Fuzzetti,

Top-performing CEOs will finally loosen their purse strings and invest in top line growth. In 2010, U.S. companies sat on over $1.8 trillion in cash reserves. Their investors are getting restless and want to see them innovate again. And you cannot lead your industry by just tweaking your balance sheet.
— Lisa Nirell,

I believe we will continue to see interest in environmentally friendly products. As consumers begin to spend again, they will be looking to make choices that are socially accountable as well as financially responsible.
— Todd E. Miller,

I'd argue that many more companies are embracing the app trend. Some are expanding their business into the space (banks, publications), others creating their businesses based on the apps (advertising agencies), while others, like us, are basing our business on the app as the anchor, while profiting from the business development.
— Alex Shapiro,

We see an improving business economy throughout Asia, including China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, where electronics companies are budgeting for capital equipment purchases, something we haven't seen at this level in close to five years.
— Lauro Rizzatti,

A powerful new trend in business is the rise of the solopreneur, highly skilled men and women who hire themselves out rather than continuing on in traditional, full-time employment.
— Tony Hartl,

One of the biggest trends will be relating to products and services for older people. Sixty-five million Americans turning 65 and the age wave is beginning to create demand for products and services.
— Susan Towers,

One trend impacting service-based businesses is the role cloud-computing applications such as online appointment-scheduling are having on their overall operations. In addition to offering customers the convenience of scheduling and managing their appointments online, the technology helps businesses improve and automate their internal appointment-scheduling processes by reducing the number of phone calls and e-mails from customers requesting appointment times; this, in turn, frees up staff resources that can now be devoted to more important business tasks.
— Eric Richard,

I predict that as American consumers get more comfortable with smartphones and start using them more for things other than phone calls, more businesses will use QR code and short code in their marketing campaigns.
— Andy Lynn,

Although app stores continue to grow in popularity as a concept in 2011, app store industry consolidation will become inevitable.
— Carly Shanahan,

Cause-based businesses will continue to resonate with people in 2011. People pay attention to and spread the word about products that help others. It’s good for your conscience and your bottom line.
— Mason Gentry,

Business owners who need help but can't afford to pay for consultants will look to forming an advisory board. These advisory boards will be comprised of people who have skills and experience that will directly help the business owner move their business forward.
— Susan C. Hammond,

Business News Daily Editor

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