2018 Predictions, Pt. 5: Technology Advances Human Interaction, Workplace Culture, Mindfulness, and the Search Inward

The mind is the final frontier, the saying goes. If this idea intrigues you, you’ll want to read on to find out why leading business and technology experts are saying that emerging technologies will not only help us crunch data faster and generate greater efficiency, but will also facilitate our day-to-day human interactions, increase the personalization of our brand experiences, make us more self-aware, and foster a workplace culture that is high-performing, collaborative, curious, and non-judgmental. Talk about great expectations!

These are some of the predictions heard on Game-Changers Radio 2018 Predictions, Part 5, Presented by SAP, the final installment of a five-part series, which aired live January 17, 2018. Host Bonnie D. Graham asked leading experts, academics, and business influencers to share their predictions for what the coming year holds for industry, business, the world, and technology.  The predictions are the experts’ personal points of view and do not necessarily represent the views of SAP.

What These Thought Leaders Foresee

1. For 2018, you will need to have atomic content – content that is always top of mind in (your) c A lot of people are just blasting their networks with all types of content every day. In truth, there are three types of content: your company, your industry, and your own content. In 2018 you need to create a content program to engage with your community; in a given week, for example, maybe share one company, three industry, and one of your own content pieces. To make that content atomic 1.) make sure you draw a response; 2.) monitor discussions; and 3.) respond and be approachable.

– Perry van Beek, Founder of Social.ONE

2. 2018 will be the year U.S. public policy starts to focus more on consumer-facing big technology companies – and big technology companies will try hard to run away from public policy. We’re starting to see more scrutiny and counter-reaction to the size and impact of some of these companies; for example, the concerns about social media and fake news, YouTube policing videos, and an activist investor taking on Apple for “stealing kids’ attention spans.” Consumer Big Tech companies will be looking for ways to appear less overbearing and more friendly to avoid public policy threats.

– Adam Quinton, Founder and CEO, Lucas Point Ventures

3. For 2018, we’re going to go back to future with more of the human touch and individual interaction. We now have more ways to communicate with each other without really talking to each other or actually interacting. We’re social animals. For us to be able to have meaningful interactions, we’re going to need to see that human touch come back more and more.

– Morgan Jones, General Manager, Televerde Europe

4. Mass market companies will start unlocking the value of data science, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. In 2016 and 2017, a lot of these concepts were heavily hyped. In 2018, companies will move past that hype to developing frameworks to unlock the value that is really behind those techniques – to see how those techniques can really help them improve their processes to generate value for the organization and for their shareholders. This is the tipping point where we’re going to see a lot of new data science-driven applications.

– Jeroen Kusters, senior manager, Deloitte’s Supply
Chain Management technology practice

5. 2018 started with some hard discussions, extreme points of view, and some opinions that generated very strong opposition. I believe this year brings great opportunities for us to show leadership, to demonstrate high integrity, and to stand up to what’s wrong. We’re going to see that companies, especially boards, are going to be leading by example. There are going to be more diverse boards, and they’re going to help us contribute and make a difference. I also anticipate that despite everything that is happening in the technology world around new products, we’re going to have more human interaction. We’re going to go back to mindfulness, emotional intelligence, intuition, and treating each other with respect.

– Fabiana Lacerca-Allen, President of Ethiprax

6. In the enterprise, there will be more investment in voice or conversational user interfaces (UI). However, voice interface will not completely free us from screen displays; after all, human communication is not only verbal – and a picture is still worth a thousand words. Immersive user experience, although it offers a lot of exciting possibilities, will remain a proof of concept in 2018. Virtual reality, its cousin, will lag behind until someone invents a device that doesn’t make us look “odd” when we use it.

– Maricel Cabahug, Global Head of Design,
UX, and SAP Fiori product management, SAP

7. We will see a continuation in some unsettling trends. 1.) Declining trust: We have a world crisis in trust. According to a study by the Edelman Trust Barometer, 2017 was the first time ever that a majority of people in 20 of 28 countries said they mistrust the media, government, CEOs, and political leaders. This affects employees too, which will have an impact on your business this year. 2.) Increasing stress: In the past two years, the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America report has shown alarming increases in stress, with employees feeling nervous, anxious, sad, and 40% of the population feeling angry most of the time. 3.) Increasing turnover: In 2017 we had our seventh straight year of increases in employee turnover and this number could hit 20% in 2018. As a result of these trends, in 2018 more companies will focus on their culture – with programs like mindfulness and emotional intelligence – to train an employee workforce that’s collaborative, curious, non-judgmental, and high performing.

– Joe Burton, Founder and CEO, Whil Concepts

8. We’re going to see continued speed to innovation in businesses, using technologies like server-less computation. Artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to augment us – but it is not at the point of replacing people – and it will continue to add value and enhance things. We’ve seen chatbots and things like Alexa. What’s going to emerge now is that, rather than talk to a computer and try to get the computer to respond to you, the computer will listen as you talk to someone else and make hints and suggestions to you as you talk. Also, we’ll see progress in the ways we interact with technology, like brain interface. Soon we’ll be able to think a thought and it will appear on a screen.

– Paul Modderman, Senior Product Architect and
Technology Evangelist, Mindset Consulting, LLC

9. The future is a portal inward. As we move further into the future, our technologies and algorithms will enable us to become more aware of who and what we really are. Some of those technologies include big data, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, predictive analytics, haptics, gene editing, and AI digital ethics. All of these will lead us into a deeper understanding of the true human conditions. That’s important because we want to do business in a more ethical way in the future – and we’re starting to see this. The ‘90s and the ‘00s were about exciting innovation, and now that’s starting to wear off and we’re starting to realize we’ve made some mistakes. We’re going to see more companies decide that the innovation was fun, but now it’s time to get back to figuring out what works for everyone and not just a few people. We’re seeing a trend of not moving outward, but inward, toward the self, into the psychological realm, into the world of the human mind. People have said, the mind is the final frontier – and that’s where we’re headed.

– Gray Scott, Futurist and Techno-Philosopher,

10. To align marketing with sales, CEOs will put together a productivity-based KPI by individual role within a marketing organization. The key metric managed to each individual will be: how many conversations did they create for sales. That’s the function of marketing: to create brand awareness and top-of-funnel activity. CEOs will no longer allow marketing to drive campaigns and spend valuable dollars that do not convert into sales conversations. To ensure success of the sales team, the allocation of training dollars will increase for skills set training to 1.) modernize the sales team to think like digital marketers but sell like salespeople and 2.) to understand how to leverage digital selling techniques to create more conversations.

– Mario Martinez, Jr., CEO and Founder, Vengreso

11. In 2018, there will be a meaningful transition in terms of how businesses are moving toward digital transformation with all the emerging technologies. 2016 and 2017 was a time of technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence. Businesses were focused on ideation and idea exploration. 2018 will be the year of the concept. Businesses will develop much clearer business concepts and search for business solutions with these emerging technologies. In 2019 and 2020, businesses will be much further along to apply the concepts for a new business reality. In summary, in 2018 there will be meaningful progress for the enterprise to set up a foundation to adopt and adapt emerging technologies into the new business reality.

– Hosin Min, Global Head of Envision Practice at Value
Prototyping Center of Excellence, Global Customer Office, SAP

12. We’re going to have a very interesting year around personal security and personal information. For the past decade as a society, we’ve become incredibly de-personalized. The move to digital has de-personalized the human interactions we have. We’ve done this with this notion that we are free to give up personal information – almost de-personalizing ourselves publicly – in exchange for some free service, or Facebook or Gmail, for example. In 2018, we’ll reach a day of reckoning. People are going to realize that giving up all this information and identity has to stop. We must preserve our identity and our sense of self in the humanistic sense, instead of the digital sense.

– Joshua Bernstein, Vice President of Technical
Strategy for the Emerging Technologies, Dell EMC

13. We’ll see a wholesale shift in strategy among CEOs and boards toward a recognition that the way to guarantee a profitable future for their companies is to focus on the solutions to critical social and global issues. They will realize that solving problems of the environment and society aren’t just good corporate social responsibility, but these opportunities to make the world a better place are also opportunities to increase profits and outperform the competition.

– Dan Wellers, Global Lead for Digital Futures, SAP

You can hear the full show at
SAP Game-Changers Radio 2018 Predictions, Part 5

SAP Game-Changers Radio 2018 Predictions Special

For dozens of other insightful predictions that can impact you and your business in 2018 and beyond, listen to all five episodes of SAP’s Game-Changers Radio 2018 Predictions Special. In case you missed previous episodes, you can listen to recordings of Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of the series.

Coffee Break with Game-Changers airs live every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. ET/ 8:00 a.m. PT at http://spr.ly/SAPRadio. You can listen to the shows live here.

Experts’ predictions have been edited and condensed for this space.