When it comes to the ever-changing world of business communications technology, it can be really difficult to determine what the “next big thing” is and what is merely a flash in the pan.

A Business Lesson from U.S. Soccer Fans

Date: June 27th, 2014
Author: Tyler Munn

America has soccer fever. You may not. The other members of your fantasy (American) football league may not. But one look at these numbers compiled by the New York Times suggests soccer may finally be here to stay (at least once every 4 years).

 

Still, there are some people who refuse to acknowledge soccer has some growing sway or pull in the States. And if you listen to any sports talk radio or read any online sports media, the argument has inevitably come up: people who don’t like soccer refuse to acknowledge or accept that this is a bigger deal than certain traditional mainstays on the American sports calendar and people who enjoy soccer argue the opposite position.

 

Sound familiar? That’s because we as business professionals have this argument all the time. Not about soccer, of course, but about business practices and trends. Some recent examples: cell phones/personal devices at work, the value of social media, and work-from-home or working remotely (think Yahoo!’s abrupt policy change a while back and the fuss that caused).

 

When it comes to the ever-changing world of business communications technology, it can be really difficult to determine what the “next big thing” is and what is merely a flash in the pan. Are free voice apps the future of business? Will landlines be extinct by 2020?

 

How do you figure it all out? Well there are a few general questions you can ask to help identify the money-makers from the bank-breakers.

 

  • How are key players treating the trend? Going back to our soccer analogy, you can see a difference in how ESPN, America’s go-to sports network, is treating the World Cup. Entire portions of their primary news show, SportsCenter, are dedicated to World Cup coverage, and updates lead nearly every segment...and at a time when LeBron James may decide to change teams(!). The point here is ESPN is driven by eyeballs and article views. They don’t talk about it unless the public is going to pay attention to it.

    Going back to telecom, you can see a similar trend with how major carriers are treating landlines. AT&T has stated their desire to have nothing to do with landlines beyond 2020. That should be a good indication that there’s not much value left in landlines and SIP and VoIP are the way of the future.

     

  • How are key demographics treating/impacting the trend? In marketing, you always look to the youth to see what’s coming down the pike. If you want to know why more Americans care about soccer than ever before, you could see that among 14-year-olds, it’s the second most-played organized sport behind basketball. Millennials and the current generation of youth have grown up with it and understand it.

    When it comes to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend in business, do you think generations that have grown up with personal tablets and their own smartphones are going to want to trade those in for a dated (to them) desktop handset at the office?

     

  • What do you physically see happening? Normally, I’m not a fan of using anecdotal evidence. But if you tried to go to a restaurant with TVs anywhere in the Cincinnati, OH area yesterday between noon and 2 p.m. (during the USA-Germany match), you were hard-pressed to find a seat at most places. That’s on a Thursday during business hours. That tells me something.

    Likewise, if no one I know owns a “home phone” (my grandparents being the exception), that is yet another good indication of the fate of landlines and where the market is going instead.


     

These questions are guaranteed to get you the answers you need, but they should go a long way in helping you make smarter business decisions when planning for the future. And of course, go U.S. Men’s National Team!