17 January 2018

Is 2018 the Year We Finally Get Robot Overlords?

 

What challenges can organisations expect to face in 2018?

The Christmas Tree is now long packed away, and all those chocolate selection packs would only be a distant memory if it weren’t for the nagging reminder that I should do something about this winter insulation I added to my waistline.  The mess from the New Year party is cleared up perhaps a little better than the haze of the hangover that still lingers.  This can only mean that it’s time to settle back down to work and look to the challenges of the year ahead.

With 2018 now well and truly underway, we’re fully back into the swing of things here at Storm HQ. and this year has some exciting and daunting things in store. Not only will we have to deal with the looming requirements of GDPR and Brexit but also we’ll need to find something to talk about after the revelation that no new Stranger Things or Game of Thrones would be released this year. It’ll be a challenging time for sure.

We asked the team at Storm for their thoughts on the biggest challenges for you in the year ahead – here’s what they had to say.

Brexitbrexit jigsaw

Possibly the only topic more divisive than Marmite, a dark cloud descends whenever anyone mentions the B word. Whatever your thoughts about the rights and wrongs, however, there is no denying that for organisations in the UK and abroad, there are many ramifications of Brexit. There is an uncertainty around everything from access to the single market to hiring to exchange rates to the service sector.

It’s unsettling for anyone with an interest in the British economy. Such a sea change in the structure of the UK economy will create many winners and losers, and it is up to businesses to figure out how to land on one side and not the other.

GDPR

More than a buzzword, GDPR poses some pretty big challenges for organisations in all sectors this year. Many organisations are still unsure of how they will manage to comply with the regulations, or even what the detail of the regulations even means for them. Regardless of how prepared any organisation might be, the law will come into effect on the 25th May 2018. Organisations will have to review their data protection policies, privacy policies, data handling processes and ensure clear consent has been given to store or use personal data that has been collected.

The process of gaining consent will have to change for many organisations, too. No pre-ticked boxes can be used in forms and easy consent withdrawal are among the top priorities in keeping your consent processes above board.

Our Operations Director, Tim, has been focusing much of his time on preparing Storm for GDPR:

Organisations are going to have to think very hard about how they will apply the principles of GDPR and will need to establish transparent and lawful reasons and methods for processing the personal data they collect – potentially a massive task for some.

GDPR should stand for Get Data Protection Right, and far from being feared and detested, it should be seen as a good thing for both individuals and organisations.

At its core, GDPR is putting individuals first and enforcing stricter compliance with data protection regulations to crack down on the use of personal data as currency among large organisations. While it will undoubtedly be a large undertaking for companies of all sizes, it keeps individuals’ interests at the forefront, which is something we should all be mindful of.

Cyber Security

It may be the flipside of the coin to GDPR in many ways, but not only will organisations need to do better at getting consent to store and use personal data, they will need to up their game in protecting it too.

Cybersecurity will continue to be in the news as organisations are targeted by cybercriminals looking to cash in on the value of data. Malware and hacking attacks are becoming ever more frequent. As data storage continues to grow exponentially, and with an increasing number of people trying to steal that data, organisations will have to batten down the hatches.

With more organisations migrating to the cloud, it’s vitally important that you understand what you’re signing up for and just how tight your security is. Real Business reported that ransomware attacks are multiplying 350% year on year. According to Lamont Pridmore, Barclays Business Banking’s study found that “the ever-increasing threat of cyber-attacks” was one of the biggest fears facing British SMEs this year. Ransomware isn’t going away any time soon, and just as technology continues to change, so too will the threats to cybersecurity evolve.

Voice search

In his article detailing predictions for 2018, Scott Galloway reckoned:

“Voice makes the mobile wars look like a border skirmish as big tech and the media industry try to establish their place in an increasingly Amazon world.”

He’s not wrong. Voice search seems to be becoming increasingly integrated in everyday life. As Amazon’s dominance grows in the ecommerce space, we can expect more of a push for adoption of Alexa. They’re already pushing Alexa by offering discounts for completing shopping via the technology over mobile or desktop.

There’s a lot of uncertainty for businesses – for example around languages, privacy and ads – but it’s sure to be a big talking point as we continue through 2018.

We expect voice search to shake up the SEO market too, as consultants and agencies work to determine how to adapt methodologies and recommendations to meet the evolving search environment.

We have another article coming soon about the impact of voice search on brands, and how this could be a total game changer for the traditional marketing playbook.

Social media engagement

Organisations undergoing digital transformation will turn to social media to engage with their users and to investigate the user needs that will drive change and digitalisation of their services.

Those that fail to do so will be at a disadvantage as they won’t have the best picture of the real user needs of users most likely to engage digitally.  This is especially true for organisations with sprawling digital real estate, such as those with multiple websites and services. Local, regional and national government, charitable organisations, and public bodies are particularly at risk, but also large private sector organisations, including banks and financial services.

It is time for such organisations to step up to the challenge, Many have, but any need to follow.

One of our UX consultants, Rashmi, said:

… they will struggle to know who their users really are, especially if they have a big digital estate. And if they don’t really know who their users are, there is an added difficulty in reaching out to them to find out what they need.

social media engagement

Diversity

Reflecting on the ad fail that Pepsi ran mirroring Black Lives Matter with Kendall Jenner, Andy Nairn pointed out a crucial point about diversity:

…if you run an in-house creative department like Pepsi does you need to really interrogate your own approach and make sure you’re not blinkered by your own brand.

This point can be considered more generally for brands’ digital presences. Approaching new projects requires diversity testing and internal decision making.

While it may seem obvious, the likes of Pepsi prove that it’s all too easy to get buried in an idea and lose sight of the bigger picture – whether that’s politics, user needs or accessibility.

Looming break up of “Big Tech”

As huge tech organisations continue to dominate the landscape, and the emerging threat of automation continues to stifle wage growth, wealth inequality will be more and more apparent.  The heirs of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Larry Page will each be worth more than 2/3 of the combined wealth of all US households.

Do not expect Facebook, Google, Apple et al to invest tax cut windfalls.  These organisations already control more wealth than several sovereign nations and in many ways, they wield considerably more power.

Expect change to be led by the EU Commissioner on Competition, Margrethe Vestager, and perhaps also by the Attorney General of one or more US states.

How we are reacting

Challenging times ahead, then, but we are excited by such challenges here at Storm. It will be interesting to look back at this year come December and see how the digital landscape has changed, and how companies have addressed the challenges associated with those changes. We are primed and ready to help our clients to navigate such digital evolution, by helping modify their digital genetics to position them in the best place to thrive.

We will continue to adapt, develop and recruit to stay ahead of challenges and to deliver the skills and experience needed to deliver the best advice and services possible. If you have any questions for our team of consultants, get in touch.

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