6 Big Trends CEOs Should Stay on Top of in 2016

1. The Birth of the Low-Carbon Economy. Momentum from the Paris climate-change accord a few weeks ago will help establish “a working framework for the development of a global low-carbon economy,” argued TriplePundit.com, a sustainability website. If the warm weather continues in the Eastern United States, where some of the most important opinions on such things are formed, this will add to the push. Suggestion: Something as simple as adding a bike rack or lockable bike storage area at your office or plant can help increase employee loyalty.

2. Wearables on the Rise. Expect not only rising consumer embrace of smartwatches like Apple Watch, but also increasing use of wearable devices connected to the Internet of Things in business environments, such as monitoring hazardous work zones or doctors keeping track of patients recuperating at home, according to AT&T. Suggestion: Ask your executives and employees for input on how wearable devices could help your organization stay on top of problems, challenges and opportunities.

“Ask your executives and employees for input on how wearable devices could help your organization stay on top of problems, challenges and opportunities.”

3. Self-Driving Mania. Beginning with an explosion of technological wonders for autonomous driving being displayed at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in the first week of January, expect the mania around self-driving vehicles to build quickly. An expected Ford-Google alliance to field a co-branded driverless car will be one big accelerator. Suggestion: What could your company automate to improve efficiencies and enable the shifting of employees to more customer- and value-centered tasks?

4. Accelerated Tracking. Using the Internet of Things for sensing and tracking will flood business in 2016, AT&T says. That includes a growing use of sensors that will track whether a food or medication shipment gets wet, or too hot or too cold. Suggestion: How could IoT help your business manage things like equipment life, or remotely resetting machines that go offline?

5. Back to the Future with Food. Protein-rich meals with butter as an ingredient will be on the rise this year, according to CPG guru Phil Lempert, as will shorter ingredient lists and growing claims that food is “Free from” something as a popular indicator that food is “healthy.” Suggestion: As a business leader, it’s important for you to stay healthy and keep your energy up. Think of one thing you can eliminate from your diet that’s unhealthy and one thing you can add more of to your diet that is healthy, and work toward those goals in 2016.

6. Food Waste Gets Less Wasteful. The biggest social issue in the food business this year, argued Bret Thorn, a blogger for the Nation’s Restaurant News website, will be food waste. Awareness of just how much food Americans waste – an estimated 31 percent of our supply in 2010 – “has made into mainstream conversation now.” As this conversation gets louder, more brands and organizations will strive to reduce food waste all year round. Suggestion: If your facility has a cafeteria, ask your property manager or facilities director whether your organization is involved in composting. If not, suggest they start one this year.

Dale Buss :Dale Buss is a long-time contributor to Chief Executive, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and other business publications. He lives in Michigan.