2018 and beyond: Industry Trends Predicted by Top Consultants

Katy Roberts
It’s usually this time of year when the crystal balls get dusted off and organisations attempt to predict what the business year ahead, and beyond, holds for them.  As the global economy braces itself for some distinctive changes ahead with movements towards a Brexit in 2019, organisations all over the world are trying to anticipate the changes and plan accordingly. 
And how do you plan for the unknown? You seek council from those in the know – those who live and breathe their industries and who, daily, transform organisations as they prepare for a future, more agile, workforce. 
We asked our Consultant Community what their predictions are for the year ahead. 
The general consensus amongst consultants is that the Technology Industry will continue to disrupt and occupy most growth strategies, as they have been doing already. Organisations are embracing new technology as a key pillar within their organisations, but with tech integration forming the connecting value-add between functional business departments. Back office systems will now take their pride of place alongside traditional front-office, client-facing, business development functions, as all will be required to input, access and utilise data in new, and more intelligent, ways.  Here are some extra predictions by our consultants: 
  • “We will see continued progress in digital transformation focusing on operational improvements, with great experimentation in innovation technologies such as blockchain, AI, and machine learning. Regulatory changes will require focus by multiple financial services firms in the areas of MiFID II, Basel III, and GDPR.”
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) will emerge as a leading theme for insurance carriers with greater adoption by consumers of different devices to enhance everyday living.”
  • Digital currencies will play a larger role in more countries moving towards cash-less societies.”
  • “Despite some market sluggishness witnessed in the wearable tech market for the past few years, the wearable tech sector projects an optimistic outlook for 2018. I think that the smart watch will continue to boast its highest market share among the total wearables product categories, while fitness bands will continue to experience a shrinking market share in 2018. An increasing market share from niche products such as smart clothing and hearables is expected, too. An increasing number of various connected devices enabled by AI will help sustain the growth of the wearable tech in the coming years.”
Most retail consultants agree that there’s a Digital Storm brewing within the retail industry. Where many organisations fear the power of the so-called Big Guys, there is an encouragement by the amount of innovation and transformation happening at a lower level where retailers are looking at creating new customer experiences that mould themselves to consumer behaviour.  Whether our of necessity, or out of ingenuity, independent retailers are developing new routes to market as they seek out alternative opportunity and market segmentation. Here are a few trends and predictions raised by some of Talmix’s independent Retail consultants: 
  • “There’s a change coming. Organisations that aren’t already built upon the idea that customer needs should take precedence over their own are slipping behind in the digital race. And they are now facing the critical need to gear up through introducing completely new product methodologies that are firmly rooted in their customers’ demands.”
  • “Forget omni-channel – focus on Customer Experience: The word ‘omni-channel’ is often overused and misunderstood. It’s jargon that has come into play, but everyone seems to have a different definition for what it truly means. The trend going forward will be about creating a seamless, connected, customer experiences
  • The birth of the Customer Effort Metric: Organisations will be gearing themselves up towards thinking about Customer Effort: How easy it will be for their customers to do business with them.”
  • The future for High Street retail relies on the digital transformation of the store itself. Some retailers are ahead of the curve in this respect, already implementing new ways of doing things. You’ll see sales people in Carphone Warehouse armed with tablets which help them to answer any, and all, customer queries, or help them search for additional information such as product information, pricing and availability to assist with the purchasing decision for a customer before the customer leaves the store.”
Consultants in the FMCG space agree on one thing – the need to outplay and remain (or become if they aren’t already) sustainable. Many are embracing technology to do this, while others are changing their core business operating strategies. In the FMCG world, businesses will become even more consumer-led as we move into 2018, putting even more pressure on them to become agile organisations that shape their own product lines and offering according to market fluctuations. Organisations will need to focus on empowering their own people to perform at their best.  Here are some trends that will be affecting the FMCG Market in 2018 and beyond: 
  • “In the B2B Food world, I think we will start to see the emergence of scaled global B2B markets as traction takes hold – led by integration efforts inside the holders of the inventory with systems like SAP, Oracle and Salesforce.  This has already started to happen, and is driven by a tighter fiscal environment with rising food costs. The need to squeeze every last penny out of inventory will be stronger.”
  • “Organisations  are challenged with a huge slowdown in growth, a decrease of productivity and a big increase of competition at a faster, more complex pace while it becomes harder and harder for organisations to differentiate themselves from their competitors. As organisations start to realise that they have to be led by consumer-demands, not their own sales agendas, For that, they will need to be agile enough to deliver where the demand is. For that, leadership teams will need to focus on creating environments that enable their people to perform at their best.”  
  • “Organisations will continue to realise the need for simplification and focus rather than a tendency towards complexity in the FMCG world.”
Consultants agree that some of the biggest disruption and innovation is already, and will continue to, take place within the Life Sciences and Pharmaceuticals industry. Life expectancies will continue to increase, developed markets will continue to remain the main spenders on healthcare, total global pharmaceutical spend is expected to continue to increase with generic medicines growing in proportionate spend in 2018 and beyond. Here are some additional predictions shared by independent consultants within the Life Sciences and Pharma worlds:  
  • "The Life Sciences world is up against changing markets. You may not be capturing the market as soon as possible, but like any other business, you need to be aware that change is coming, and will be affecting your business before you know it, and unfortunately, the speed at which this change is approaching the Life Sciences market is quickening – and businesses who are not yet ready, are at risk of being caught out."
  • "What you’re going to see,  is the marrying of data analytics (whether in medical devices, assessment and diagnostics, tracking or monitoring) and the capability of the devices themselves. The use of data in the development of product lines and the analytics of how they behave and what they record, once they’re on the market, will become symbiotic, forming future development iterations and plans for progression
  • “The healthcare industry has always been a very traditional industry. Now, however, it is also facing a perfect storm of change:  new technology innovation that appears almost overnight, new laws and regulations, new competitors, more demanding patients and clients, increasing demands to reduce costs will be forcing organisations within the industry to become more agile and innovative.”
  • “2018 will see a continued trend of growth in the healthcare sector both in local markets and cross border activities with international companies looking to invest in local market opportunities, and vice versa.”
  • "The major shift that’s ahead for drug development and the way that drug developers work, is the application of artificial intelligence. Some of the biggest drug-production companies who are already miles ahead in their development within the US and UK, use some of the most intelligent algorithms in order to identify molecules in early stage, pre-clinical and clinical development to improve the whole process."
  • "When it comes to chronic disease management, manufacturers of chronic disease medication will need to accept the fact that, thanks to the evolution of generic drug producers, medication that was once sought-after and high-priced, will soon become nullified by competitor products in the market."
  • "One of the biggest challenges facing the industry is simply full competitor awareness – both locally and globally. Organisations in this space need to develop a comprehensive insight and create realistic foresight relating to corporate and geographic competition in order to guarantee their own success."
Where traditionally Education was not something at the forefront of independent consultant or organisations' minds, we’re starting to see the emergence of collaboration between private equity investment and educational institutions. We visit trends facing the education industry and how organisational investment will start to develop stronger ties for return on revenue in future: 
  • "The education industry is ripe for disruption. There is a clear shift towards project-based processes. The traditional stage process where students moved from one stage to the next in order to pursue a particular education, is slowly losing its relevance."
  • "Students and educators are embracing technology on a wide scale and the traditional classroom is changing significantly as classes and courses move online, and resources are available through the cloud."
  • "With 2 main factors driving the performance and longevity of the institution, schools need to be focussed on successfully Marketing the school – to build the revenue prospect, as well as their Capital planning – and how they spend their money, to keep their costs down and build their margins favourably."

While others finish off their end-of-year to-do lists, get ahead by talking to us about your 2018 plans, today. There’s still time to start the new year off on the right strategic foot. 


About the Author

Katy Roberts

Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.

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