2012 Outlook: Europe/China, Cloud, Mobile Apps, Office Sharing & E-learning

As we end 2011, it’s time to think about the new year.  What are your goals and dreams?  What do you have planned?   How will you achieve them?  What are the obstacles, challenges and solutions?  I’d like to hear your comments, especially about how to make this site more useful to you.

Here are emerging trends that will affect you and your business:

Europe’s economic troubles and China’s slowdown will drag the global economy into a slight recession, except for a few developing nations.  How will you get through 2012 until the global economy recovers?   Global networking online and local face-to-face networking are probably the best bets.  Find hidden or neglected needs and find low-cost solutions. There are thousands of unmet needs all around you.  The best ventures are launched during recessions since they learn quickly how to make money and become capital efficient, so they can grow during the upturns.

Cloud services are the emerging platform for new businesses.  IBM, Amazon, Google and a host of cloud startups are competing for small businesses with freebies, tools and connections, so check them out.   The next wave of ground-shaking companies will come out of the cloud, which is really Internet 3.0 on steroids.

Mobile apps are already saturating major sectors so companies are developing more targeted apps that are integrated with their online businesses.  This field is still dominated by developers, but will explode with simple apps development tools become as easy as writing blogs.  The startup that figures DIY (do-it-yourself) mobile apps development will become the next WordPress or Facebook.

Office-sharing is becoming popular because it’s lonely working alone at home.  Many of these space are becoming incubators/accelerators by teaming up with business service professionals, angel investors, and local organizations.  I’m still not using these spaces, but may if I partner with other businesses or co-launch a venture.  Their key value is business and social networking, but that can be done attending events through Eventbrite, Meetup, and professional groups.  Once these spaces enable businesses to find customers and investors, then they’ll take off.  Until then, they’re nice-to-have, but not critical work spaces.

E-learning has been growing quickly over the last decade, initially from commercial schools, universities and professional organizations, but the new opportunity will be DIY e-learning platforms with easy-to-use interfaces like Facebook that enable individuals to get paid for offering classes and videos.  With so many professionals and talented people looking for work, I believe the next big breakthrough will be an integrated Web/mobile e-learning service.  Khan Academy is great for K-12 basics, but I’m thinking of something where individuals can create their own materials.

So these are my initial observations for 2012.  I welcome your comments and suggestions!

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