Whether you’re heading up a huge corporation or a scrappy, young startup, every passing year brings a new crop of business hurdles. While 2018’s list is lengthy, we’ve distilled it down to the three big challenges you need to look out for (Don’t worry, we’ll give you some hiring and strategy tips for tackling them, too).
1. The Build Trap
In February of 2018, Snapchat rolled out a huge redesign, including tons of new features meant to make the app more accessible to the average user. It didn’t go over so well. Longtime users lamented the revamp’s unnecessary additions and obfuscation of simple features like direct messaging. The backlash was so bad, that 83 percent of user reviews bashed it, 1.2 million people signed an online petition urging the Snapchat team to remove the features, and Snap stock tumbled 7.3 percent. Though its value has recovered slightly, public rebukes by influential celebs like Kylie Jenner and Chrissy Teigen have sullied its reputation among its core audience—perhaps irrevocably.
This problem is one many companies face: Development teams are pressured to keep building new features, without regard to whether or not users actually want them, need them or enjoy them. It’s called the Build Trap—a phrase coined by Melissa Perri, CEO of product management consultancy Produx Labs and founder of Product Institute. According to Perri, “Many companies don’t understand the concept of value [of a given product]. They fall into the Build Trap when they associate value with how many features they release, rather than what those features do. They optimize for quantity rather than quality.”
Luckily, businesses can circumnavigate the Build Trap with some savvy workforce strategies. The first step? Get a product team. “To get out of the Build Trap you have to find what’s valuable to customers and make sure everything delivers on that promise. A product team will consider customer needs and wants, measure how they react and tie that to the business side. They’re constantly keeping in touch with the outside and inside of an organization to make sure it’s on pace to keep growing,” Perri explains.
In addition to a product team, Perri says businesses need to ingrain a customer-centric approach into their culture, starting at the top. “Leadership teams need to work really well with product management. They need to provide a vision of where the company is going in the future. That will dictate what products are actually needed, before loading up your dev team.”
When looking for product-minded hires, Perri suggests looking for more than an MBA on a candidate’s résumé. “Find people who are highly analytical but also highly empathetic to customers—someone who can be a systems thinker and synthesize all available info to identify solid opportunities companies can run after.”
2. The Content Chasm
As any marketer will tell you (perhaps ad nauseum), content is king. But it takes more than a crown to rule effectively. According to Hubspot, a surprising 63 percent of marketers say that generating traffic and leads is still a problem for them. The mishandling of content is frequently the culprit.
When content works, it works hard. For one, it leads more customers to your business. More than half of marketers say the most effective SEO tactic is quality content creation. Hiring seasoned content creators to contribute to your blog and website will likely open the floodgates of inbound traffic, but don’t stop there. You’ve still got work to do on social media.
The Digital in 2017 Global Overview estimates there were 2.56 billion global mobile social media users that year, equaling 34 percent population penetration. Almost anyone would agree that It’s one of the most important content channels, yet most marketers are flying blind. Hubspot notes only 42 percent say they are able to measure their social activities, leaving their content strategies to guesswork. Proper measurement should be priority, but in the meantime, focus on visual content—especially video; a third of time online is spent watching it, and by 2019, it will account for 88 percent of traffic. It also nearly doubles the likelihood of conversion.
In short, hire quality content creators that specialize in SEO, social media and video creation—and align their efforts with data-based strategies.
3. The Trust Timebomb
2018 has been a year where consumers and regulators are taking a very hard look at data privacy and security. If social media giants can take such a substantial hit from a breach in trust, any company can. And when consumers don’t trust a company, investors don’t either. Speaking to CNBC, notable investor Roger McNamee drew a line in the sand. "In my mind, trust is the thing that makes these [internet platforms] successful. I am an investor. I want them to have the trust of the users."
It goes without saying that any employee that will handle customer data should possess digital security experience and training—but even the most elite security precautions aren’t 100% foolproof. Still, if your new hires are chosen with ethics and customer experience in mind, your organization will be much better equipped to handle security breaches and maintain customer trust.
Between build bloat, crappy content, and lack of trust, there’s no shortage of serious threats businesses will need to ward off in the years ahead. But remember, knowing your enemy is half the battle. Now that you’ve recognized these pitfalls, you have the advantage in avoiding them. You can enhance your workforce strategy, make smart hires, and construct cultural bulwarks that will protect your business and ensure its longevity.