Posted by Allan Steinmetz on 3 January 2018

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This week I am sure you are seeing many thought leadership articles, opinion pieces and blog posts addressing business, marketing and technology predictions for this new year. So far, I have seen discussions on mobile technologies, continued mergers and acquisitions, the raging tech stock market, artificial intelligence and the list goes on. One thing is for sure, the proverbial crystal ball for 2018 will be cloudy. No one knows for sure what will happen or what will become reality.

I am no futurist, I admit, but I have been right about many things and predictions in the past. So, here are my business predictions for 2018.

  • Amazon will continue to be a significant player in the coming year. In 2017, we saw the Amazon acquire Whole Foods and the desire to find a second headquarters of operations which will be announced in 2018. Retailing will never be the same. My prediction for Amazon in 2018 is that they make a play to either privatize the U.S. Postal Service, develop their own overnight package delivery service or make a play to acquire FedEx or UPS. Package delivery is their only missing link in creating a full cycle of delivery and customer engagement.
  • Uber will fix itself and restore its reputation as a disruptive technology company. After receiving a 40% investment from Softbank last week and appointing a new CEO, we can all expect improved board governance, improved and expedited cultural realignment, employee/driver engagement and removal of sexism that has plagued the company. I see improved affiliate marketing programs abroad, exponential growth and improvement that will have serious consequences for the competition. Softbank will push for consolidation and could even buy and merge their ride sharing investments into Uber around the world.
  • “Culture” and “Purpose” will move up on the list of priorities in 2018 for many companies and boards. Last year we saw many companies focus on “Purpose” as a means of distinguishing themselves and attracting the talent to surpass the competition and achieve exponential growth and EPS. Research studies show that companies with a strong corporate culture have greater confidence in the future and have a stronger sense of purpose. They have more engaged employees 73% vs 23%, are more optimistic about long term potential to outperform the competition 79% vs 47%, confident the company will grow this year 82% vs 48% and encourages employees to innovate 80% vs 35% according to Gallup.  Other studies show that companies who have high employee engagement, another indicator of a strong culture have the potential to be ten times more successful.

In one recent survey, 87 percent of organizations cited culture and engagement as a top challenge, with most leaders rating the issue as “urgent.” In a different study, only 28 percent of executives reported that they understood their organization’s culture, and just 12 percent said they believed their company is driving the “right culture.”. In 2018, I suspect that management and their boards of directors will seek to get it “right”, especially now since the National Association of Board Directors have cited “culture” as a critical business asset and as urgent and important. In 2018, boards will be holding management accountable to driving culture, in my opinion. Especially in light of the current climate surrounding sexual harassment misconduct in Hollywood and media outlets.

  • 2018 will be the year where Augmented Reality becomes mainstream. AR will change ways in which we interact with technology and how our hardware will evolve. The AR/VR revolution has reached a tipping point, in my opinion, with enterprise adoption outpacing the consumer world. In 2018, I see the consumer world catching up. Advances in digital reality—an amalgamation of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality, 360°, and immersive technologies—will lead to more natural and intuitive ways for technology to better our lives. How we interface with digital information will likely no longer be screens and hardware but eyewear, gestures, emotions, and gazes. Instead of being in the den with your entire family watching your 55-inch digital TV, imagine everyone donning a pair of translucent goggles/sunglasses and watching whatever pleases them. Dad could be watching a NFL football game on network TV, Mom may be participating in a two-way Skype call with her sister in France, little Johnny may be playing his PlayStation and Susie could be conversing with her friends on What’s App, all at the same time on different devices.  One of my favorite hardware offerings is Immy International. It is still a little-known secret that we should hear a lot about in the coming year.
  • 2018 will find “New Catalysts for Innovation and Market Transformation”. In the 1980/90s it was Michael Hammer’s Reengineering. Today it is organizational transformation, with many new buzzwords and ideas ranging from IBM’s cognitive computing with Watson, Deloitte’s symphonic enterprise, blockchain ecosystem and others. They are all designed to help users across the enterprise uncover and share data-driven insights more easily, while helping organizations launch big data initiatives more quickly. The resulting data crunch provides users with a unified view displaying all their data-driven information, as well as a framework for developing information-rich applications that deliver a comprehensive, contextually-relevant view of any topic for business users, data scientists and a variety of targeted business functions. Ultimately, it has the potential to change business as we know it. If you do not understand this idea and no little, it would be worth your while to immerse yourself and learn more about cognitive computing.

Well, there you have it, our predictions for 2018. Be sure to come back same time next year to see if we were right. In the meantime, we wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2018 and hope we have an opportunity to interact and work together in 2018. If you have any questions about any of my predictions please don’t hesitate to call.

Allan Steinmetz CEO - Inward Strategic Consulting 617-558-9770