For many companies, 2014 has been a year of stability and success, with the British economy enjoying consistent growth and demand for products and services on the rise.
Businesses will now be turning their attention to 2015, which promises opportunities for further growth and prosperity, but not without challenges to overcome on the way.
The best way for organisations to prepare for the future is by anticipating major trends the coming year is likely to bring. Here are a few possibilities.
More focus on digital marketing
If refreshing your marketing strategy will be a big priority for your business in 2015, you can't afford to ignore the digital space.
Consumers are spending more and more time browsing the internet, on a wider range of devices than ever before. This has created a new world of opportunity for advertisers.
According to a recent survey by research firm Gartner, companies' digital marketing budgets are set to increase by eight per cent in 2015.
The findings showed that digital spending made up a quarter of the typical marketing budget in 2014. Half of the organisations involved in the study were planning to increase their marketing expenditure next year.
Laura McLellan, research vice president at Gartner, said the line between digital and traditional marketing is becoming less distinct.
"For marketers in 2014, it's less about digital marketing than marketing in a digital world," she added. "Hence, marketers manage a much more balanced and integrated marketing mix than in previous years, which were characterised by online and offline silos."
Further growth in mobile
Mobile devices have grown in prominence in recent years and the rapid proliferation of the sector is showing no signs of slowing down.
There are very few (if any) areas of life that are yet to be affected by the explosion of handheld devices, so any business that wants to stay relevant has to make changes to reflect this phenomenon.
One fundamental step is to optimise your website to cater for mobile browsers. Altering the content and appearance of webpages to suit this audience could make a huge difference to the amount of time visitors spend browsing your site.
The significance of the mobile market for retailers was underlined in a recent report from industry association IMRG, which revealed that smartphones and tablets are set to account for about 40 per cent of online sales in the lead-up to Christmas.
Scott Abrahams, group head of acceptance and emerging payments at MasterCard UK and Ireland, said: "Over two-thirds of UK households now own a smartphone or tablet computer, so we can expect more online shopping to be carried out on mobile devices this Christmas than ever before."
Transparency and openness within organisations
Gone are the days of autocratic bosses barking orders at a browbeaten workforce. For modern businesses, the focus should be on achieving a sense of transparency and positive links between managers and staff.
Employees who feel comfortable in communicating with their senior colleagues are much more likely to have positive perceptions of their own role and the organisation as a whole.
In a recent worldwide survey of workers aged 32 and under, Millennial Branding and Randstad found that 52 per cent of people in this demographic think honesty is the key characteristic for being a good leader.
Having a 'solid vision' was cited as the next most important trait, followed by communication skills.
Another interesting finding showed that, despite the importance of technology in the modern world, 51 per cent of younger workers prefer speaking to managers in person, rather than via email (16 per cent) or instant messaging (11 per cent).
Flexible working has become an important aspect of modern-day employment, particularly in the UK, and businesses can expect this to continue in 2015.
It is a concept that delivers benefits for all. Employees enjoy more control over their working times and methods, improving their work-life balance, while employers have a more adaptable, satisfied workforce and cut down on the costs that come with staff being permanently based in the office.
The government has recently demonstrated its support for flexible working by giving people more rights to request changes in the way they work and introducing policies such as shared parental leave.
Earlier this year, advocacy group Timewise released a report showing that eight million people work part-time in Britain and about four million usually work from home. Furthermore, about 8.7 million more full-time workers want to adopt flexible practices, according to the findings.
Businesses that are in tune with this trend, along with the other key developments we are likely to see in the near future, will give themselves a good chance of having a successful 2015.
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