Old Ed’s Almanac. The future revealed…

Welcome to the penultimate blog of 2011 and I have – as threatened – been gazing into my crystal ball. With plenty of help from you I can now offer some predictions for 2012. I have to say that a few of them are a tad on the gloomy (realistic?) side, so let’s get the bad news out of the way first…

Seggy Segaran kicks off, and may already be able to claim the first success of 2012. A couple of weeks ago he wrote, “High business failure rate due to double dip – some big names similar to Woolworths and MFI to go.” Well, Barratt went last week and if the dubious goals committee decide they are/were a big name, then that’s one to Seggy. Another prediction from Seggy was – regrettably – more riots due to an increasing gap between the haves and have-nots: and an increase in anti-capitalist demonstrations. Looking abroad, he also foresees a restructuring of the Eurozone: in particular, a smaller group with Greece and others ejected.

This last one is interesting – especially as Anthony Day confidently predicted, “The euro will not disappear and no countries will leave the Eurozone.” Sadly for those of us who drive around North Yorkshire, Anthony also saw petrol passing £1.50 per litre. On behalf of all of us, ouch.

Staying with the macro-economy perhaps the gloomiest prediction of the lot came from Adrian McClaren. Not wishing to mince words, Adrian foresees chaos (“absolute chaos” actually) in the mortgage market. £25bn of mortgage deals come to an end next year, most of which will go on to the standard variable rate. If a rise in interest rates causes those borrowers to look for a new deal, Adrian doesn’t believe the administration systems of the lenders will be able to cope, and…cue chaos. If you need to review your mortgage next year, sooner rather than later might be the answer.

Turning to the problems of running a business, Dick Jennings sees trouble ahead for anyone wanting bank funding in 2012, whether it’s to expand an existing business or purchase a new one. “It will remain desperately difficult for transactions, start-up capital and development projects where there isn’t bricks-and-mortar security.” Dick echoes a theme that I’ve touched on several times in the blog, and as I said last week, I’m sure that 2012 and subsequent years will see the rise and rise of the business angel. As Dick points out, “the banks will remain under huge pressure to de-leverage so as to meet balance sheet gearing tests.”

But what about the world outside North Yorkshire? Here are five top trends I picked up from trawling through the leading tech blogs:

1. Mobile marketing will increase. And increase and increase… This will work both ways: if you value your privacy (and as you know, we’re supposed to be the last generation to whom privacy will be important) then be careful who has your mobile number. But conversely, could your company make use of mobile marketing? Who says your business can’t have its own iPhone app? One of this year’s top grossing apps cost less than $2,000 to develop…

2. Spam, hacking and denial of service attacks will increase. And increase and increase… This is developing as a recognised industry in certain countries so, dull as it is, make sure your security systems are up to date and back up your essential data on a regular basis

3. Social media – Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, Google+ and friends – will continue its rise at the expense of traditional advertising…

4. …and it will increasingly impact on the Google search algorithm. If you want to be found on the internet next year, then you’ll need to be active in social media

5. Facebook’s planned flotation will create enormous waves. I still can’t get my head round the fact that the ECB are talking of “pumping $50bn into the system” and a company founded less than 10 years ago is planning to float for twice that. But rumours are already rife that Facebook will use the cash to set up a rival to Amazon and that they’ll launch their own smart phone.

One thing’s for certain: the pace of change will not slow down and something none us have anticipated will happen next year. And no, I’m not talking about England winning Euro 2012.

Come back to me with more predictions: I’ll review this blog at the end of 2012 and award a bottle of my finest Shiraz to North Yorkshire’s best soothsayer…


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