On the watch for global trends

By Michael Sarafa

As we head into the New Year, I have come up with five things to watch in business for 2018. 

Automation becomes real
Budweiser outfitted a semi-trailer truck with $30,000 of computer ware and sent it 120 miles from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs—without a driver in it. There’s a huge shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. and it may be the trucking industry that leads the way on autonomous vehicles. 

Authenticity overtakes quality – the Experience Economy
Consumers are all about the experience. Emotive ads, storytelling, appeals to the better side of human nature have become game changers to companies trying to grow their market share. People are attracted to companies that are aligned with who they are and share similar values systems. This trend will continue to grow dramatically in 2018 and beyond.

The demise of the big boxes
This is not really news and happened through 2017. Over 40 large retailers have gone out of business in the last 24 months and many more have shuttered hundreds of stores. There is the Amazon effect, of course, but also these retailers don’t play to the experience economy cited above. It’s only going to get worse.

Values, values, values
The recreational retailer REI closed all of their retail and distribution centers on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Why? They gave their employers the day off and suggested they spend it outdoors (#OptOutside). What happened? According to Retailtouchpoints.com, the hashtag above received 2.7 billion impressions on the first day, same store sales increased by 7% and digital sales increased by 23%. Customers rewarded REI for this move and people noticed.

Bitcoin and Blockchain
I don’t know about Bitcoin’s future but it is based on the same theory as Blockchain. Holy cow, watch out for Blockchain. I can’t really explain it but here is Wikipedia’s version.

A blockchain, originally block chain, is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. The Harvard Business Review describes it as “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.” For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.

This technology could be a major disrupter of traditional business models in the future. Don’t get left behind or at least don’t let your kids get left behind.

Happy New Year.

Information cited from blog on workzone.com