As the year draws to an end, what better time to reflect on the biggest news (and gaffes) of the year.
2017 was a vintage year for businesses. As the UK’s political and economic climate continues to develop against a backdrop of change, there are exciting developments in technology and finances which could have a massive impact on the way businesses and customers interact.
Read on for a summary of the biggest business news events from 2017.
Spring Budget and Autumn Statement
It’s been a busy year, politically speaking, and there have been some big changes which will play a particularly important role for many small businesses.
The biggest change of the year in business terms was, of course, business rates. There were some important decisions made which will affect businesses of all sizes in 2018 and beyond.
The big development was the change in the way business rates are to be calculated. The switch from the Retail Price Index to the Consumer Price Index is expected to save millions of businesses across the country more than £2b in business rates over the next five years.
In recognition of the fact that the five-year reappraisal for business rates left businesses vulnerable to sharp rates increases, the rates revaluations will now take place on a three-year basis. There was good news for pubs, too, as an existing discount was extended for pubs with a rateable value over £100,000.
An award-winning gaffe
One of the highlights of the year in the awards calendar, the Academy Awards is keenly watched by millions across the world.
During the live broadcast, the Best Picture award was mistakenly awarded to the wrong film, whose crew was halfway through their acceptance speech before the mistake was corrected.
Unfortunately for PWC, renowned professional services company, it was some of their staff who were held accountable for this envelope mix-up that was broadcast to the world.
Despite having been successful sponsors of the awards for more than 80 years, this particular slip-up demonstrates in the best (or worst) way how one rather mistake can throw up more bad press than eight decades of good work.
One of the most important things to happen throughout 2017 has been the transitionary period of the General Data Protection Directive.
The regulation was adopted in April 2016 in a transitionary capacity, giving businesses time to adapt to the changes. The GDPR will become directly binding and enforceable from 25th May 2018.
Many businesses have had to take action, and the pub and restaurant chain JD Wetherspoon did so fairly dramatically.
After a data breach in 2015, the company decided to reassess how much customer data they needed to keep for marketing purposes. In June this year, the company deleted its entire database of customers’ email addresses.
It is a smart (and hugely brave) decision which will minimise the risk of data breaches, by removing the data altogether. Less data equals less risk, and with the financial penalties involved in data breaches, it seems a prudent decision. That’s not to say all companies should purge all customer data – but it’s a smart way to manage risk.
Moving forward, it is important that business owners consider the implications of the GDPR – especially given the fact that the implementation date is creeping ever closer.
The best advert of the year?
A bit of healthy competition never hurt business – but one advert may have sparked a fully public rivalry.
The Samsung advert calls out Apple in a playful attempt to show which phone is better – and it’s done brilliantly well.
Time to plan a new marketing stunt..?
…. And the worst advert(s) of the year
There are a couple of contenders for this accolade, and the Advertising Standards Authority revealed its list of most-complained about adverts of 2017.
Moneysupermarket’s dancing Dave, who wore heels and denim cut-offs, was one of the most complained about adverts of the year, receiving 455 from an incensed public. Arguably, the most offensive thing about the advert was the frequency with which it aired.
However, there are also several honourable mentions for some real howlers. Dove (who were accused of racism), Pepsi (who were accused of belittling anti-racist social movements), and McDonalds (whose advert was accused of exploiting bereavement). Check out the link above for more, and maybe start thinking about your business’ disaster recovery plan.
The public arrival of Bitcoin
The explosive growth of Bitcoin has been one of the really interesting developments of the year.
Starting the year at a value of less than USD $1,000 per coin, it will end the year with a value closer to USD $20,000 per coin. It rose to about $5,000 by September, then more than trebled in value between September and December.
The digital currency has gone from strength to strength this year, and is set for a bigger and better year next year. From 11th December 2017, Bitcoin started to be speculated against by investors, helping to normalise the currency and allowing financial institutions to become involved in its trading.
It’s still widely misunderstood and weighed down by technical terminology, but the developments throughout 2017 will help to propel it to new heights.
…along with awareness of Blockchain
Bitcoin’s lesser-known and equally confusing technological sibling, Blockchain has been one of the buzzwords of 2017. It has been recognised by tech enthusiasts and financial powerhouses for the potentially transformative effect it could have for business interactions.
From improving the ethics of supply chains to providing smarter contracts for legal processes, all the way through to improving record-keeping across the healthcare, insurance and education sectors, Blockchain offers several opportunities for increasing accountability and security.
It has the potential to disrupt several industries – the energy industry, for example, is at the very forefront of experiments in Blockchain – and as the technology becomes more widely used and understood by the general public, it will only grow in popularity, just as Bitcoin has.
Expect to hear much more about it and how it can benefit your business over the course of 2018…