Conversocial’s Josh March looks back at 2011 and gives his predictions for the year ahead:I’ll remember 2011 for… being the year that companies started to take customer service in Facebook and Twitter seriously. When we started the year, social was all about marketing. But over the past 12 months, there’s been a realisation that customers are using social media for real customer service issues, and that companies need to take that seriously. As a result, our software product Conversocial has shifted attention to really focus on helping companies manage social customer service – something I wouldn’t have predicted in 2010. 2012 will be great because… more kids will be taught about programming. Over this year I’ve spoken a lot publicly about the need for greater programming knowledge and teaching. At times, it felt like I was speaking to a brick wall, but recently there seems to have been a shift in perception, and government and institutions have taken up the call. We still have a long way to go but I’m very optimistic that in 2012 more kids will be taught about programming and technology than any time in the past couple of decades. One sector we’ll hear a lot from next year will be… artificial intelligence. There’s some very exciting work being done by IBM, Intel and others on re-engineering how the brain works to create computer systems that are better at learning and pattern recognition. Although I certainly don’t think we’ll have sentient computers in 2012, this could push forward the development of artificial intelligence significantly; opening up new, more powerful uses in different industries. The one thing that would help me grow my business in 2012 would be… easier employment rules. We’re expanding fast. Part of that means expanding our business into the US; part of it means growing the team and hiring here. We need great talent, where it comes from – and right now hiring anyone from outside the EU is a nightmare. If the government wants businesses to grow and create more wealth and jobs in the UK, they need to get rid of stupid immigration and visa laws that prevent people coming here to work. It’s completely counterproductive. My New Year’s resolution for 2012 is… to get to yoga once a week. That stuff is important too. Real Business will be running the “My 2012” series for the next month, bringing you top entrepreneurs’ views and predictions of the year ahead.
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