Business trends come and go. Just when you think you’ve got to grips with the latest one, five new ones pop up and make you re-evaluate everything. Some make good business sense and are built to last, others are all style and no substance, and the rest are clickbait flashes in the pan. So how do you know what’s worth pursuing and what’s not?
We’re here to tell you what all the fuss is about, and whether these trends are hot or not for 2019…
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been much more than just a buzzword in 2018 – and it’s not only big businesses that are tapping into its power. As the sophistication and use of AI grows, so does its accessibility to small and medium sized businesses.
Take manufacturing, for example. 92% of senior executives believe ‘Smart Factory’ digital tech (which includes AI) will help them to increase productivity. From spotting defects on a production line to real-time problem solving, in the not-so-distant future, AI has the potential to transform the entire industry. But it certainly won’t happen overnight.
While more businesses are adopting these technologies, a factory needs to be networked for data collection in order to become ‘smart’ – and this type of digital transformation takes time and money.
The switch to AI, of course, isn’t immediate; you won’t turn up at work one day with a cyborg next to you. Progress is iterative, and there are plenty of smaller scale implementations of AI cropping up for SMEs. Just look at the rise of chatbots for one, improving customer service without increasing costs massively. Little improvements like these are how AI slowly takes hold within businesses, and more businesses will be adopting the technology over the next 12 months.
According to a report by Gartner, IDC and Forrester, 58% of businesses are researching AI systems but only 12% are using them. However, the same report also found that 50% of businesses will have implemented a digital transformation initiative by 2020, compared to just 22% in 2016. In short, there won’t be a massive revolution in 2019 but this trend is definitely hot – and it’s only going to get hotter.
Verdict: Hotter than lava
Before you say ‘GDPR is so 2018’, data collection and protection is still a hot topic – and it’s set to get hotter in 2019. While most companies are compliant with the new legislation, there will be plenty that aren’t, and, as the fines are doled out next year, we’re sure to be reading about it once again.
With growing demand for digital privacy, 2019 is therefore likely to see not just compliance with GDPR under the microscope, but also clearer communication from brands, such as our regular updates and opt-outs, to let customers know that their data is completely secure.
Verdict: It’s about to get hot for the noncompliant
Do you remember when you couldn’t read anything without the word ‘Millennial’ popping up about a hundred times?
Presented as an enigmatic group with the power to either save or destroy the world, Millennials have had more airtime than most generations. From being entitled and difficult to manage to being inclusive and courageous, the theories have served to deepen the belief that understanding this generation is the key to business success. So, will we still be talking about them in 2019?
Hopefully not. The term is essentially meaningless for a couple of reasons. One, it’s an incredibly broad demographic that really serves no great purpose. You can’t say Millennials think in a certain way because that suggests an 18-year-old from a council estate in Bromley has similar opinions to a 34-year-old accountant from Glasgow.
However, we don’t think this is the reason you’ll hear less about Millennials. We think the sole reason you’ll hear less is because marketers and press love a good buzzword. There’s been such a backlash to the term, we think they’ll move on to the next generation – Generation Z.
In 2019, Generation Z will, for the first time, outnumber Millennials. For sure, Gen Z is no less problematic than Millennial. But that won’t stop everyone banging on about them, just wait and see.
Our verdict: Not
With a growing focus on mental health and research showing that employee absences cost UK businesses £77 billion a year in lost productivity, the last couple of years have seen an increased focus on health and wellbeing in the workplace.
From support with mental health issues to free fruit and more break-out recognition, business leaders have recognised the fact that happy, healthy employees mean more productive employees. Having a wellness plan can also help to attract and retain the best talent who have the power to find the best place for them.