The Top Trends for 2018
This report looks at global trends set to make an impact in 2018. Every year Frost & Sullivan's Visionary Innovation Team of futurists, consultants, and analysts scans the short-term horizon and looks across industries to identify areas of disruption in the new year. This year the power of technology and technology companies has emerged as a key theme across the identified trend, but topics range from political to environmental issues to increasing adoption of behavioral science principles.
Trends identified include:
The Corporate Valuation Race
2018 is likely to be the year that a leading tech company (think Apple, Google, Microsoft, or Amazon) surpasses the trillion-dollar valuation mark. The question that analysts are asking is, which one will be the first to do so? Attainment of this benchmark will signal a new level of corporate power and influence, but will also usher in growing scrutiny from competitors, regulators, and consumers. These companies already have valuations larger than the gross domestic product of most countries.
The Innovation Tug-of-War
Rising concerns regarding technology companies’ increasing power is driving pushback from governmental organizations, and we expect this trend to gain momentum in 2018. More pushback and regulations are likely to protect consumers and mitigate corporate overreach, but may also stunt innovation. The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation coming into effect in 2018 will be a key signal in this trend, as well as adjusted net neutrality rules in the United States.
Quantum Arms Race
Long the domain of science fiction and theory, quantum computing is making rapid advances and looks poised to achieve quantum supremacy in 2018—the ability to outperform traditional supercomputers. Competitors in the space are aggressively racing to increase their qubit computing power while minimizing the rise of errors. Experimentation of quantum computing in conjunction with encryption, artificial intelligence (AI), materials, and qubit generation will be key areas of focus.
On the Verge of Flying Personal Transportation
Also a trend that evokes science fiction, flying cars are likely to make big waves in 2018. Numerous competitors laid the groundwork in 2017 by testing their flying vehicle models, with more expected in 2018. The biggest leap forward in the space, and in the public’s imagination, is the expected launch of a flying taxi service in Dubai this summer. Expect to see more investment in this space as awareness becomes more widespread.
Companies Listening to You
The concern about tech companies listening to consumer conversations has only grown with the adoption of smart home devices and AI personal assistants. This with be a topic of focus in 2018 with the likely revelation that a tech company or nefarious actor has indeed been tapping microphones without consent. Past incidents and the capabilities to do so point to this reality. Expect intensified media scrutiny along with consumer and regulatory pushback in 2018.
Governments, industry participants, and citizen-focused initiatives are coming together to identify, reduce, and prevent misinformation strategies and fake news in 2018. Intensified focus on this trend will be to quell election interference and social polarization efforts. Developments may lead to the segmentation of social media based on verified identities, pseudonyms, and anonymity.
The Rise of Enterprise Behavioral Science
We expect to see 2018 as the year that behavioral science takes hold in the enterprise, with savvy companies adopting these economic and social science principles to both increase worker productivity and nudge consumers towards desirable outcomes. 2017's media attention of early adopters and Nobel Prize recognition of the discipline’s founder will spur adoption in 2018. Expect to see the rise of behavioral science consultancies, as well as more human resource, strategy, and marketing positions going to behavioral scientists.
Politics Undergoes a Generational Shift
A new generation is coming into power in countries around the world. While some of these new leaders share political positions stereotypical of their age group, others have made somewhat radical moves that may indicate trends aimed at the still-strong power of older voters. The success of these young leaders would signal a rising tide of millennial leaders, whereas failure would relegate these early entrants to history based on a short-lived desire for change that instead brought inexperienced and naïve leaders to power.
Global Natural Disaster Strategies
The faster pace, mounting death toll, and destruction made some experts proclaim 2017 as the worst year in history for natural disasters. Expect to see consortia of businesses, municipalities, and insurance companies working together in 2018 to take more aggressive steps and employ innovative strategies to address and prevent these occurrences.
Shift Away from Platform-Only Models
In 2017, some interesting developments came from the world’s most notable platforms, Uber and Airbnb, that indicated a move beyond platform-only models to acquisitions and partnerships with asset providers. These moves indicate a need to differentiate and overcome some of the challenges that a platform-only model presents, with the objective of increasing value for both digital and physical assets.
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