Digital technology is rapidly changing the business environment and customers' needs—and understanding and addressing these shifts will be essential for every business to ensure its success into the future, according to the Vodafone Trends Barometer 2018, released earlier in July.
"We are witnessing profound shifts across all industries, marked by the emergence of new business models, the disruption of incumbents and the reshaping of production, consumption, transportation and delivery systems," Klaus Schwab, executive chair of the World Economic Forum, said in the report. "On the societal front, a paradigm shift is underway in how we work and communicate, as well as how we express, inform and entertain ourselves."
The report gathers research along with insights from industry analysts and political, business, and economic thought leaders.
SEE: IT leader's guide to achieving digital transformation (Tech Pro Research)
Here are the four key trends that will change the business landscape this year and into the future, according to the report.
1. New global landscape
The global economy is being redefined by frequent political and societal changes, which increase uncertainty and risk for businesses, the report noted.
"Customers are less trusting, and in order to salvage relationships, businesses will be forced to manage disruption while delivering positive outcomes for society that create value for their brand," Andrew Morawski, president and country chairman of Vodafone Americas, wrote in a LinkedIn blog post about the report. "Businesses will be forced to work harder than ever to build and re-build customer trust to stay competitive."
2. Rethinking business models
New technology and the rapidly changing societal landscapes are driving new business models, according to the report. That means enterprises must rethink the way they have traditionally run their companies, and embrace new tools like digital technologies and data analytics to evolve and remain relevant.
3. Human and machine collaboration
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have already impacted the workforce, and the relationship between humans and machines will likely continue to augment human skills, more so than replace them, the report noted. AI and automation will assist humans, and benefit them by helping them make better decisions, become more productive, and build new revenue opportunities and more personalized solutions.
"As jobs are redefined by machine integration, new skills will become essential to tomorrow's workforce," Morawski wrote in the post. "By monitoring new use cases and evaluating how they can best benefit from machine and human talent, companies will be better prepared for this new type of workforce."
4. Digital workplace
The digital workplace involves flexible, connected workspaces, as workers' digital lives become integrated across their job and home, according to the report. The plethora of communication and other digital tools available help workers more easily form agile teams, and then use machines to augment their efforts, the report noted.
"Flexibility and agility will define the success of the future labour market," the report stated. "Therefore, businesses must factor agile working into their culture and ensure they have continual access to digital skills when they require them."
Businesses should also work to build and maintain a diverse, inclusive workforce that empowers employees, the report noted, as this will increase productivity and improve decision-making.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- As technology rapidly changes the business environment and customers' needs, companies must address those shifts to remain relevant and successful. — Vodafone, 2018
- The four key trends that will change the business landscape this year and into the future are globalization, new business models, human/machine collaboration, and the digital workplace. — Vodafone, 2018
- How Sephora is leveraging AR and AI to transform retail and help customers buy cosmetics (free PDF) (TechRepublic cover story)
- Why CIOs have bigger IT budgets for 2018, and what they're buying (ZDNet)
- Digital transformation: A CXO's guide (TechRepublic)
- Robots don't want to takeyour miserable office job (CNET)
- Demand for AI talent exploding: Here are the 10 most in-demand jobs (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.