Why 2018 Could Spell Trouble For Your Business
2017 is on its way out and you’re in trouble. Well, if you’ve gotten complacent, comfortable at the pace your business is steadily growing, or if you’ve settled for the routine you’ve found yourself then you’re in trouble. That’s because business trends are accelerating and thanks to technology the rate of acceleration is faster than what we expected or can possibly keep up with. I’m sure you feel the effects of these rapid changes – and so must be your business.
The year 2017 saw many fluctuations in the business world with some markets and economies performing better than others. Though nothing is certain and while many factors will remain the same going into 2018, there’s still a lot that can and will change for the better. Going into 2018 some of the momentum from positive changes will continue. Some will bite the dust and, if we’re lucky, we’ll also experience some new disruptions that’ll be the catalysts of positive change. If you’re prepared to absorb, assimilate and adapt to these changes then you’re set to avoid serious trouble.
From what I’ve seen so far, here are some of the trends business leaders should keep their eye out for in 2018 to be better prepared for what’s to come and to help their business grow exponentially.
1. Live Interactions
Thanks to the advent of social media it seems that people prefer “virtual” interactions over in-person ones. However, top companies have realized that to build strong communities you need to rely on long-term relationships that are beyond simple brand loyalty. And that’s possible through in-person and live interactions. While social media has been pivotal in connecting people, it cannot replace the need for in-person interactions. In fact, it’s a tool that can enable better and more valuable in-person interactions. Embracing this fact will allow businesses to harness the power of social media’s rapid pace of relationship building and take it to the next level with live interactions.
2. Experience Economy
Remember when TQM (Total Quality Management) was the defining factor of whether a business will succeed or not? Companies relied on TQM to deliver quality products seamlessly and consistently which enabled them to drive customer loyalty and enjoy market leadership. However, for the most part of the decade this notion has been pushed aside and TEM (Total Experience Management) has superseded it. Much of its popularity has been a resultant of the increasing difficulty in differentiating products and their price points. To really get their products accepted and develop a defined competitive advantage, brands now rely on winning experiences by driving true customer engagements.
3. Augmented Intelligence
It seems Artificial Intelligence (AI) was quite the buzzword in 2017. But that’s not the only major technological disruptor that’s gaining massive traction. Augmented intelligence, human + machine, has been sneaking into the business world to augment and enhance our performance. When you consider the high demands to be productive, efficient and perform ‘more’, augmented intelligence is its biggest enabler. And its application is quite widespread. Airlines rely on IBM’s Watson to notify flight attendants of delays so that they can preemptively inform and instruct passengers. Amazon is using it to analyze consumer behavior and enhance worker productivity. Their AI regulates dynamic pricing, changes product descriptions, alters product rankings and even uses customer spending habits to determine prices. The biggest factor that works in favor of augmented intelligence is how it isn’t focused on replacing talent (something many fear is an outcome of automation). Instead, it’s making your talent more productive, intuitive and amplifying their performance.
4. Shared Values
Black Friday is probably the biggest day of the year in terms of sales for any retailer. It’s a global shopping phenomenon. Interestingly enough, in 2015 REI closed down all stores and operations and gave all its employees a paid day off. This wasn’t a publicity stunt. In fact this move gained them a lot of bonus points from customers who raved about their generosity over social media (an increase of 7,000% in mentions) and 9.3% increase in revenues. In 2016, Patagonia announced that it would donate 100% of its revenues from Black Friday to charity. The result was an inflated sales of $10 million compared to their forecast of $2 million (all of which was donated). The bottom line is when you drive your business with the ideology of “shared values” you’ll gain much more brand value than when you’re focused on sales and numbers. What’s it all about? “A shared value is a belief that both the brand and consumer have about a brand’s higher purpose or broad philosophy.” This is what customers give more importance to and businesses are now recognizing its significance.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of blockchain is Bitcoin. Sure that’s a part of it, but there’s much more to it than just that. Blockchain is a completely different way of processing data, information, transactions and even records. It’s much like a shared document that can be stored and recalled in several different ways. Not only is blockchain a prevalent disruptor in the financial tech, but it’s also found its place in healthcare. There’s much skepticism and many hurdles around blockchain – similar to the initial skepticisms around the internet and social media. However, the reality is that blockchain will enable new digital transactions and will disrupt traditional business operations. It’s an evolving technology that’s definitely here to stay.
So there you have it, my take on what to expect in 2018 and how you can avoid landing your business into trouble if you’re aware and prepared of these disruptors and trends. I’m sure you have a list of your own to work on. Some of it you’ll tackle earlier in the year and some later on. However, find a way to incorporate these five trends into your list so you too can harness their power and continue to grow your business.
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