2013 is finally upon us, bringing with it a whole host of new opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, the success of the UK in 2012 has shown its capabilities and resilience. On the other hand, this has set high expectations, and the question remains as to whether the lessons learnt from last year will be capitalised on over the coming 12 months.

In reality, a lot of 2013’s developments will be an evolution of what’s gone before, rather than a revolution. And so, as 2012 saw the emergence of an increasingly tech-savvy workforce and the rise of the ‘digital native’, employees and consumers enter 2013 expecting to see high levels of availability across all services, with extremely limited tolerance for downtime.

In light of this, I’d like to identify the major industry trends that will be key to organisational success in 2013:

  1.  Prevalence of social media

Bad news travels fast and companies cannot afford to let availability slip down the agenda as their crises now have ‘wings’. Social media has opened up completely new channels of communication with a global reach. Brands can be made or broken by how well they manage public disruptions.

  1.  Customer loyalty

There are very few things that are truly unique where customers can’t get a similar service elsewhere – there is always competition. Although it may be relatively easy to attract new customers, the only way to keep them is by giving them excellent service. Customer loyalty relies on availability and the service you are offering them – you can’t provide a service without availability in an age where the competition is perpetually one mouse click away.

  1.  Flexible working

A longstanding trend that is set to increase, again driven by employees’ expectations of being able to work anywhere. Smart devices and a ‘connected’ world mean people want to work in a more mobile fashion and businesses need to support this. The gains are not just for time of disruption either, as flexible working is a talent retention / acquisition strategy as much as anything else.

  1.  The growth of Bring Your own Device (BYOD)

BYOD is being driven by employee expectations despite its implications for security and availability. Organisations should be looking to attract the tech-savvy talent that can help drive availability within the organisation. By the end of 2013, six out of 10 companies will have a BYOD strategy in place – the challenge for CXOs is how to harness the business advantage without relinquishing availability or control.

  1.  The influence of ‘Big Data’ to the customer

While it’s a term we heard being hyped throughout last year, for many organisations, effective big data – or business intelligence – strategies will be similar to the cloud, a case of dipping their toe in and gaining experience before really understanding the full benefits. In 2013, those companies that successfully deploy a big data strategy will be ones that understand the importance of keeping information available and flowing through the organisation, and how this can be exploited to add value to the overall business.

Smart organisations see availability as a differentiator and will use it to gain a competitive advantage. Those businesses we expect to succeed in 2013 will be the ones where people, processes and technology are closely aligned to support employee and customer needs in new and core markets, 24/7.