ASCAL Institute

Key Trends to Keep in Mind in 2018

With the release of Accenture’s 2018 Fjord Trends report, we see seven tech trends and their anticipated evolution throughout the coming year, and their subsequent impact on business and consumers. According to Mark Curtis and the Team at Fjord, each of the 2018 trends is born out of a fundamental tension, whether it’s a shift, a disagreement, a collision or a definitive rift in ideas. Digital versus physical, human versus machine, centralised versus decentralised, speed versus craft, automation versus control, traceability versus anonymity. We are now living in a world where technology is everywhere, supported by the Cloud. We exist in a fog that makes the digital invisible, and that blurs the boundaries between digital and physical. Those who best navigate these trends and seize the opportunities that they present will be the winners in 2018:
  1. Physical fights back
People are starting to reject intrusive digital technologies and digital saturation. As interactions with users evolve from periodic engagements via a screen to consistent, connected experiences, organisations must create new services that are deeply integrated in the physical world, without being overly apparent.
  1. Computers have eyes 
As well as comprehending our words, computers now understand images without any help from us. Imagine the exciting possibilities for next-generation digital services.
  1. Slaves to the algorithm
We are looking at a new marketing environment, which is neither online retail nor a brick-and-mortar store. In this “third space,” algorithms are performing the role of gatekeeper between consumers and brands, and they are indifferent to the branding efforts that influence buying decisions people make for themselves. As the Machine Learning that powers these algorithms continues to rapidly evolve, more personalized and preference-based services will emerge.
  1. A machine’s search for meaning
Where once the “threat” to jobs was the introduction of production lines, typewriters or motorized vehicles, the hot topic now is the rise of Artificial Intelligence and robots. Organizations must stop talking about it and start designing for this change, by coming to terms with how to enable people and machines to get the best out of each other. The introduction of machines won’t always mean fewer jobs for humans—just different ones.
  1. In transparency we trust
It’s hard to judge what’s authentic in a digital world where it’s almost impossible to identify the origin of information and who has had a hand in changing it. Worse still, falling trust in key institutions has compounded the issue. In 2018, designers will do a lot of work using blockchain—a potential solution to this trust crisis—but they will need to help people understand it and build faith in it. Organisations will need to shift their emphasis from “touch points” to “trust points” when carving out market differentiation. Organizations must act quickly to understand and harness blockchain’s potential to deliver transparency and the role it can play in re‑building trust.
  1. The ethics economy
Organisations are feeling the heat to take stands on political and societal hot button issues, whether they want to or not. And consumers are speaking with their dollars, choosing brands that align with their core beliefs. No organization will be able to afford to sit back and claim to be neutral. Navigating this new territory successfully starts with preparing to have every action (and inaction) closely scrutinized and used as a differentiator for customers choosing between two otherwise comparable options.
  1. Design outside the lines
The design discipline is being challenged by three forces: the proliferation of design thinking, the demand for products to be scaled fast, and the potential of emerging technology. Design’s rapid ascendency and newfound respect within organisations is a win for all. But, in a world in which everyone thinks they’re a designer, today’s practitioners need to evolve – how they work, learn and differentiate themselves – if they are to continue having impact. Designers need to continuously educate themselves and champion a greater emphasis on design craft if they’re to deliver good, affordable digital products to market at the expected speed. In summing up, Baiju Shah, MD at Accenture Interactive, stated “many of the thorny questions ahead of us revolve around human-machine interactions, the consequences of which will be profound for individuals, society and organisations of all kinds.”