Top Business Challenges of 2017

Group of seated business executives talking and laughing.

Business challenges in 2017 span some of the most fundamental aspects of running a company. Competition for talent has increased, and technology and data have continued to grow at a rapid pace. These events have created implications for human resources, marketing, cybersecurity and more.

Here are some of the top business challenges of 2017:

Marketing Challenges

For many organizations, acquiring and implementing technology has overshadowed tracking and managing what’s already in place, according to marketing technology expert Anita Brearton in CMSWire. Additionally, measuring the performance of all the tools in use brings another layer to this issue.

Marketers need to take inventory of all marketing technology and put a process in place for recording new subscriptions and reviewing them on a regular basis. For measuring the performance of marketing tools, professionals should have quantitative or qualitative objects for each piece of technology. Integrating analytics information, such as in a fully integrated analytics dashboard, is another step that they can take.

Other issues also face marketers in 2017, but Brearton identifies some ways marketers can solve these emerging challenges.

  • Adapt to a world where reaching prospects is increasingly difficult. Customers are in a noisy marketplace, have more control over contact from companies and are found across more sites and channels. Marketers should commit to highly targeted, quality content, experiment with tools and programs that encourage prospects to opt in for engagement, and pay closer attention to buyer personas, such as where prospects spend their time.
  • Drive increased customer engagement. Companies often focus on obtaining new customers, instead of paying attention to the customers they have. Developing and implementing a specific customer engagement program can help.
  • Deliver a unified customer experience. Last year, a lot of hype surrounded the idea of providing customers with a consistent experience across all company touch points, while using any device. However, this may not be an attainable goal. Marketers should view this on a continuum, looking at places where branding, messaging and design can improve the experience. They should also focus on contact points that are most critical to the relationship with the customer and look at technology that can help.

Horizontal bar graph of human resource statistics, 2017.

Human Resource Challenges

Ninety percent of recruiters in 2015 said the market is candidate-driven, up from 54 percent in the second half of 2011, Glassdoor reported. Increased competition for candidates will create challenges for recruiting and retaining top talent.

  • The U.S. unemployment rate in November 2016 reached 4.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is the lowest since August 2007.
  • Thirty-three percent of employees in February were engaged at work, according to Gallup. “A record 47% of the workforce says that now is a good time to find a quality job (up from 19% in 2012), and more than half of employees (51%) are searching for new jobs or watching for openings.”

Companies should balance recruiting and retaining top talent. Placing “an over-emphasis on talent attraction and hiring without equal emphasis on development and retention will create problems for companies,” Lars Schmidt, founder of consulting company Amplify Talent, wrote in Forbes. “As the economy continues to strengthen and job fluidity continues to shrink tenure, retention will become an increasingly important factor in determining which companies thrive and which struggle to maintain sufficient talent levels.”

Organizations need to have a holistic approach, from attraction through onboarding and development. Over-emphasizing hiring and under-emphasizing development leads to retention issues and creates an endless loop of new recruiting. Hiring growth puts more pressure on organizations to retain the talent they’ve worked hard to secure.

Reputation Management Challenges

Socially engineered attacks use duplicate accounts to damage a company’s reputation. Research “discovered numerous duplicate Twitter and LinkedIn accounts among Fortune 500 CEOs,” Business News Daily reports. Nearly four out of five security teams didn’t feel that they have processes in place to gain actionable intelligence about external threats.

“The best first step a company can take to reduce these risks is a complete internet risk or social risk audit,” Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, CMO of BrandProtect, told Business News Daily. “Most companies are astonished at the number of places that third parties have used their brand to legitimize their online activities.”

This also applies for individual employees, from the newest employees to the most carefully managed Fortune 500 CEOs. There are steps that individuals can take to protect their online reputation, according to Ryan Erskine, a brand strategist of BrandYourself, at Entrepreneur.

  • Clean up your current situation. Delete negative or irrelevant content that you control on social media.
  • Register your name as a domain. This is “one of the strongest forms of online insurance,” Erskine says, and your website can become a central hub of information, including your experience, blog content and more.
  • Secure your name across all social platforms. Register your name across both authoritative and lesser-known networks.
  • Publish regular content. Update your website regularly to keep your website high in the search rankings for your name.
  • Get active on social media. This helps your profile rank in search results over time, and it’s an effective way to drive traffic to your website content.

Cybersecurity Challenges

The seemingly ubiquitous presence of personal phones and mobile devices is a weak link for corporate security. Employees who use their own devices to access business data can intentionally or unintentionally leak data, access secure information on an unsecured device and bring malware or viruses into contact with the company.

Business News Daily identifies other specific cybersecurity challenges that businesses need to consider in 2017.

  • More than 200,000 new malware samples were found every day in the first half of 2016. This number is down from 2015 and may represent that these programs are becoming more sophisticated. Often, malware criminals hold a website hostage until a ransom is paid.
  • More than 100,000 phishing sites were detected every month of the third quarter in 2016. This trend is expected to continue and become more targeted to brands. Phishing emails are the primary means of delivery for most of these attacks, which try to steal account passwords and other types of confidential information.
  • Mobile app fraud is one of the fastest-growing threat arenas in the digital world. There are hundreds of app stores active globally, and fake apps can compromise end users.

Starting or Advancing Your Business Career

Responding to some of the most important business challenges of 2017 requires a strong foundation in business theory and practice. Aurora University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and online Master of Business Administration degrees help students develop the knowledge and skills needed to lead others and advance their careers. Students receive instruction in current business practices from faculty members with real-world experience. Each program takes place in a fully online learning environment.