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Software mobility, cloud commerce, Dodd-Frank areas to watch in 2013

Industry expert William Newman looks ahead for trends to watch in 2013, including cloud commerce and software mobility.

It's time to look into our crystal balls and see what is in store for the coming year. While some top trends for 2013 -- such increased software mobility and Dodd-Frank compliance -- are not altogether surprising, the velocity with which these trends will become commonplace over the next 12 to 18 months is remarkable, given their rarity in the workplace even 12 to 18 months ago.

Cloud commerce replacing cash registers

This holiday season has been the clearest demonstration of the shift in retail commerce moving to the cloud. Retail customers are more likely to be greeted by a sales associate who can transact purchases from the floor, saving the customers time spent in lines at the cash registers. Gartner Vice President Richard Foust noted in his recent blog that 24% of this year's Black Friday retail transactions were "rung up using tablets or other mobile devices." Apple Computer has been a retail leader in this customer service shift for the past two years, and other retailers are catching on. Look for this trend to continue, first with specialty boutiques and high-end storefronts, then expanding to mainstream department stores in the next two years.

Tablets replace desktop PCs

The popularity of tablets has been growing for the last two years, and 2013 looks like it will be its "tipping point" year.  Executive preference has been shifting to the iPad iOS platform over the desktop, driven by convenience and the behavioral changes in executive behavior due to a convergence of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance and technology. Nonexecutives and consumers are driving this trend as well. They can do nearly everything on a mobile platform, at a fraction of the price, with less expensive PCs, netbooks and smartphones.

Add the recent advent of native Microsoft Office applications available on both Windows 8 desktops and tablets, and you have an easy migration approach to both creating and rendering content on mobile devices. This new software mobility is a game changer, particularly for financial and operations professionals as well as small businesses that run almost entirely on the Microsoft Office platform.

Conflict minerals will be common knowledge

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The Democratic Republic of Congo will be the focus of Frank-Dodd compliance activities in 2013 and represents a significant shift in the supply chain world. Section 1502 of Dodd-Frank requires that traces and components of so-called conflict minerals -- referred to as "3TGs," or tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold -- harvested from the Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding areas be part of an aggressive supply chain reporting mandate.

The US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) made final endorsements of this provision in late August, ascribing any publically traded company and their suppliers to include "a description of the measures taken by the person to exercise due diligence on the source and chain of custody of such [conflict] minerals," and file a Form SD  -- or specialized disclosure -- beginning in 2014 for the 2013 fiscal year. Everyone will be impacted, from jewelers to toy manufacturers to electronics manufacturers where 3TGs are present in many solid-state components.

Easy user experience is vital

Baby Boomers are retiring at a rapid pace, and this will open the doors for Millennial workers entering the workforce. They are eager to work and have fun while working. This will be a big transition for HR departments, not only to get large numbers of younger employees on board, but also to prepare an exciting environment for them. Systems environments with pleasing and easy user experiences will be a requirement to capture and retain these Millennial workers.

About the author
William Newman is managing principal of Newport Consulting Group, an independent management and technology consulting firm based in Clarkston, Mich. Contact him via email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @william_newman.

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