On 13 December 2017, Accenture released its Fjord Trends 2018, an annual report analysing the pressing forces acting internally and externally on organisations and society. Its 11th annual report examines seven emergent trends expected to impact business, technology and design in the year ahead.
Rapid technological advancements are altering the world we live in today, provoking both wonder and angst about the possibilities. Whether it’s artificial intelligence, computer vision or blockchain, emerging technologies are uprooting the digital and physical experiences of our everyday lives. These joint forces are simultaneously creating optimism and concern about the unprecedented wave of change that is unfolding.
“Each of our 2018 trends is born out of a fundamental tension — be it a shift, a collision or a parting of ways,” said Mark Curtis, co-founder and chief client officer at Fjord. “Digital versus physical, human versus machine, centralised versus decentralised, speed versus craft, automation versus control, traceability versus anonymity. Winners in 2018 will be those who best navigate these tensions and seize the opportunity to collectively design the world we’ll be living in.”
Fjord Trends 2018 suggests how organisations can navigate these currents and design for positive change. It examines seven trends expected to shape the next generation of experiences:
1) Physical Fights Back: Digital has had the limelight long enough – there are two brand experience headliners now. The time has come to blend the digital with the physical.
2) Computers Have Eyes: As well as comprehending our words, computers now understand images without any help from us. Imagine the exciting possibilities for next-generation digital services.
3) Slaves to the Algorithm: How do you design a marketing strategy to win over the algorithms – immune to conventional branding efforts – that sit between brands and their customers?
4) A Machine’s Search for Meaning: A.I. might change our jobs, but need not eliminate them. We can – and should – design our collaboration with the machines that will help us develop.
5) In Transparency We Trust: Blockchain has the potential to create transparency that will clear the fog of Internet ambiguity, regain lost trust, and repair relationships with the public.
6) The Ethics Economy: Organisations are feeling the heat to take stands on political and societal hot-button issues, whether they want to or not. And consumers are speaking with their dollars, choosing brands that align with their core beliefs.
7) Design Outside the Lines: Design’s rapid ascendancy and newfound respect within organisations is a win for all. But, in a world in which everyone thinks they’re a designer, today’s practitioners need to evolve – how they work, learn and differentiate themselves – if they are to continue having impact.
According to Marcel Rossouw, Design Director at Fjord in South Africa, the annual Fjord Trend Report for 2018 provides a view on how technologies and experiences are shaping the way we live and do business. “In South Africa, Blockchain has the power to create transparency that will clear the fog of internet ambiguity, win back lost trust, and repair relationships with the customers. Considering the local economic and political climate, the technology could be a real game changer to regain control and promote transparency. Automation and the rise of AI are also forcing organisations in the African continent to design for a seismic shift in the workplace,” said Rossouw.
“We believe this edition of Trends will provoke and inspire but, above all, provide actionable advice for organisations to prepare for the opportunities ahead,” said Baiju Shah, global co-lead, Fjord and managing director, Accenture Interactive. “Many of the thorny questions ahead of us revolve around human-machine interactions, the consequences of which will be profound for individuals, society and organizations of all kinds. As digital fades from being stand-alone to being embedded in our physical world, our relationships with everything around us will be redefined.”
Fjord Trends 2018 draws upon the collective thinking of Fjord’s 1,000+ designers and developers around the world. The annual report is based on first-hand observations, evidenced-based research and client work. This year, for the first time, it also drew upon the individual insights and perspectives from 85 clients across five continents, whose views inspired the report.