5 Hot Trends

2018 Trends

We’re well into 2018, and despite a few bumps in the road, the year is shaping up to be a good one for business. Expectations of fewer regulations, a brighter tax picture, and high consumer expectations all point to healthy growth. But, as always, we need to keep abreast of what’s trending to be sure we’re keeping up. Here are five key areas that will loom large in the foreseeable future:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Personalized Social Media Experiences
  • Blockchain
  • Evolving Workplace for Women
  • The CEO as Statesman

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is certainly not new, but it’s gaining greater prominence in the methods that we use to conduct business. In a recent PwC study, 72% of corporate leaders consider AI to be an aid to their enterprises. In what areas do they use it? Mostly to help with boring but essential tasks like preparing time sheets, scheduling, and paper work in general. Though relying on AI may seem to go against the trend toward personalization, it actually doesn’t. Using AI for menial tasks frees up time to devote to personalization in the areas that count with customers: delivery of what they want from your products or services.

Personalized Interactive Experiences

Social media isn’t a Johnny-Come-Lately either, but its influence is light-years ahead of what it was only a few years ago, and this influence is worldwide. One estimate by Statista suggests that by 2020, nearly one-third of the world’s population – 2.9 billion people – will be social media users. And why not? It’s the modern way people communicate with each other around the globe.

There are a myriad of ways to use social media to attract customers, e.g., a toy manufacturer could ask what to name a new doll or a brewery a new beer. Maybe people would like to weigh in on features they’d like to see on warm jackets: is it buttons or a zipper? How about a hood? The possibilities are endless regardless of what you sell or the services you offer.

Blockchain

Blockchain has become a hot topic around the world in 2018. It’s probably best known as the technology that gave us Bitcoin, which enabled online payments to be transferred directly without the use of an intermediary, such as a bank. Today a blockchain has many other uses. Think of it as a type of distributed ledger that constantly updates its own digital records. Once a transaction has been validated, it is then time-stamped and added to the blockchain in linear, chronological order. New blocks are linked to older ones, hence the name “blockchain.” Each blockchain automatically updates, so every ledger in the network, i.e., your company, always has a real-time record of transactions. Think of the simplicity, not to mention the time saved. Plus, blockchains are virtually hack-proof because the hackers would have to go through the entire history of the blockchain to pull it off. And they’d have to do it on every individual ledger in the company.

Evolving Workplace for Women

Though women have been in the workplace since there was a workplace, until the beginning of the women’s movement, they were often relegated to low-level, poorly paying jobs that were considered “suitable” for females. Today, however, there are precious few jobs from which women are excluded, and barriers to those are falling fast. The “glass ceiling” has many holes in it. Expect this trend to continue. Availability of in-the-workplace child care and options for work-from-home add to the options available for women who desire careers today.

Plus, role models abound: around the world, there are women heads of state (we nearly had one in the U.S.), many CEOs and other corporate executives, women who are high-ranking military officers, women in space, women on the Supreme Court, women mayors, women governors of states, and so on. An unprecedented number of women are expected to run for Congress in the next election as well.

Women often control the purse strings in a family too. So companies that have products to sell ignore that fact at their peril.

One other factor to consider: the #MeToo movement has caused an enormous shift in what constitutes acceptable workplace behavior. This is likely to continue, especially as women become more influential in setting policy.

The CEO as Statesman/Stateswoman

Once upon a time, the CEO was all about business, but no more. Increasingly, CEOs are addressing social issues. What’s driving the trend? For one thing, millennials are now in the workplace, and they tend to be socially conscious. For another, government seems strangely ineffective in tackling societal problems. Add to that the need to build public trust in business. So one can expect to see more CEOs stepping up to the plate this year. The labor market is tight, so to attract the best talent, CEOs need to show that they’re doing good, not just doing well.

Proactive Worldwide

Proactive Worldwide has its proverbial finger on the pulse of the trends listed above. So if you have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with their implications, we have experts who can help. It’s what we do.

Digital Strategy Gets Personal in 2018

Digital Strategy

In today’s marketplace, what sets the winners apart from the also-rans? Virtually all of them have developed top-notch, user-friendly digital strategies. If you have clear digital channels, you will make buying choices easier for your customers, which in turn, will result in increased sales.

Time, time, time. In this revved-up world we live in, people never seem to have enough of it, and they value clarity and efficiency when they’re looking for something they want to buy. Whether it’s a product or a service, they expect they will quickly find what they’re looking for. Otherwise, they will look elsewhere. You don’t want that to happen with your wares.

Digital technology entered the business world more than 20 years ago, but enterprises still wrestle with making the best use of it. Not to try, however, is fool hardy. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, on average, digital competition has wiped away half the annual revenue growth and one third of the growth in earnings from companies that have failed to embrace current digital strategies. The article goes on to say that the average return on a company’s current digital investments is below 10%. However, here’s the flip side: the top performing 10% of companies achieves revenue growth 8% higher than the industry average and a digital ROI 10 times higher than that of the bottom 10%. Obviously, the top 10% are doing something right, and the bottom 10% need help.

So, what’s trending in digital 2018?

You need to be up-close- and-personal in this revved up digital age. Having big names tout your products doesn’t work as well as it used to. You should be where your customers are. Here are a few ways to get there:

  • Develop grassroots promotions that leverage the power and cost-efficiency of social media to spread your message.
  • Use advanced targeting techniques to better connect with your customers. Examples include behavioral targeting that relies on customers’ interests found in browser data, geo-targeting that targets customers (often via mobile device) in a specific location, and contextual targeting that places digital ads based on site content.
  • Make use of professional live video to enhance customer engagement and solicit instant feedback about your products and services.
  • Use social media to track your customers’ interests, buying propensities, and brand sentiment.
  • Take a second look at your digital distribution channels. The digital world is evolving at lightning speed so be sure you’re making the most of your digital channels. These include your owned media (your websites, your blog, your social media properties), paid media (Google AdWords, display ads, paid content posts), and earned media (online visibility and publicity you’ve earned through shares, reviews, mentions, etc.).

The key is to know where your customers are through every step of their purchasing journey. Some of the procedures above require expertise that you may not have. Besides you have a business to run, but here’s where Proactive Worldwide can help. Whether you’re a long-standing business or a new enterprise, PWW offers several beneficial services that will put you on the right footing. If you want to increase your sales, we suggest opting for our Digital Strategy Service, which is part of our Customer Insight Program. You’ll learn how you can jump start improvements to your digital strategy.

Or you may want to realign or build a new digital footprint. Our Digital Strategy Service would also be the choice for that. The Digital Strategy Service focusses specifically on how well your online digital channel components are working for your customers. In addition, we suggest improvements that will make your customers’ digital experiences more gratifying. To determine where you currently rank on the digital-maturity spectrum, we’ll first evaluate your existing digital program. We’ll then work collaboratively with you to develop goals and appropriate solutions to build or realign your digital footprint no matter what devices your customers are using to access your site.

Proactive Worldwide has assisted many organizations including Fortune 500 companies to realign and reinvest in their digital footprints and we’d be honored to do the same for you.

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