Looking forward to the year ahead is exciting thanks to all the developments on the horizon which could impact business in all sorts of positive ways. From driverless cars to predictive retail and more, have a look at the biggest and most ground-breaking business trends that could be just around the corner….
Developments in the gig economy
2017 was a year which saw some bruising developments for the gig economy, thanks to a number of controversies surrounding the new trend of corporation-meets-self-employment. In particular, the way workers within the sector are not afforded the full benefits and securities of full-time and part-time workers.
This has created some tensions, particularly for companies like Uber and Deliveroo which were unable to keep up with the rate at which the sector expanded, leaving employees disgruntled.
This was particularly the case in the UK, where Uber was taken to court by employees for failing to meet UK workers’ rights legislation.
In 2018, how will these companies – and their employees – fare? What developments will there be which could turn the industry upside-down?
With developments coming in driverless cars, it’s possible that the driving service industry could change dramatically. One group of researchers found that autonomous taxis would ‘vastly cut back on cities’ greenhouse gas emissions’, which is no small amount. In a hypothetical situation, researchers estimated that New York could replace their 13,000 yellow cabs with just 9,000 self-driving vehicles. While the advancement in technology is exciting, the future for those who are employed in the driving industry may not be as certain as we think.
Blockchain, Bitcoin and more…
Yes, we know that we that we mentioned these in our end of year review for 2017, but it’s hard to overstate how radically these technologies (and others like them) could completely change the way business is done on a daily basis.
From introducing improved security and authentication in contracts and supply chains, to creating better peer-to-peer business networks across energy, retail, and more, Blockchain will have a serious impact on the way business is conducted.
This is especially true for early adopters of the technology; think of big players in global businesses who will be looking to develop a competitive advantage over their rivals.
While the energy-intensiveness of Bitcoin is a serious hurdle to overcome (and it is a serious hurdle; the process, in its current iteration, is not energy efficient), people are already working on solutions to make cryptocurrencies a viable alternative to traditional money. Watch this space.
Customer service developments and the growth of A.I
As we highlighted in our piece on the future of customer service, there are a lot of exciting developments on the horizon which will help businesses to streamline and perfect their customer service offerings.
The growing role of artificial intelligence is not to be underestimated, as companies increasingly look to cut waiting times for customer queries.
Automated chatbots have become a big thing this year, and you can expect that to continue, along with more dramatic developments in robotics which could see costs lowered for customers (it could, equally, represent bad news for the workers who are replaced by robots).
Similarly, the advent of predictive shopping will be revolutionary, and same-day delivery via drones or similar could become more commonplace throughout 2018 as artificial intelligence continues to develop.
Digitisation has been a standard trend, but thanks again to new technologies such as Bitcoin – and developments in other spheres, like VR and AR, for example – offer exciting potential avenues and interesting new business applications.
Virtual reality as a tool has almost unlimited uses, including training employees to exciting new customer experiences. Augmented reality has similar flexibility and scope – check out BMW’s clever way of bringing a car showroom into any space with the use of an AR app.
Being able to identify and take advantage of the next big tech breakthrough which catapults your business to success will be an important characteristic of any entrepreneur over the next few years – perhaps 2018 is your chance to start future-gazing and focussing on those emerging trends.
Gen Z begin to enter the workplace
Generational labels are vague, and the definition of them varies from place to place (and according to peoples’ own preference of whether they like to be considered ‘older’ or ‘younger’).
However, as Millennials age and progress through the workplace to transition into leadership and senior roles, the so-called ‘Generation Z’ will begin to enter and take on prominent roles within the workplace.
Surveys carried out into Generation Z have found differences between the ways that they may behave or carry out actions when compared to Millennials, and this will have a number of implications for workplaces.
The results have found that they may be more competitive, more independent and more motivated by security. They are, supposedly, both digital natives and preferring face-to-face communication, amongst other sweeping characteristics.
Those are a few of our predictions for 2018 – but we’ve seen some other interesting spots, including the ‘brick and mortar apocalypse’, the rise of the ‘buying community’ and the fragmenting of cloud services. Is your business ready for the new year?