Looking Ahead to the Business Trends Shaping 2018—And Beyond

Nancy Teixeira, VP of Scale-up and Enterprise, Sage, discusses some key trends that businesses will have to prepare for in 2018.

Nancy Teixeira, VP of Scale-up and Enterprise, Sage

The New Year is quickly approaching, and every business small and large is thinking about how to transform themselves to stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace. As we look ahead to all that 2018 will bring, we have identified a few key business trends that will play a significant role in the way you do business during the upcoming fiscal year.


Trend 1: Digital transformation

Digital transformation has been a popular term used by many businesses for the past few years. Digital transformation and growing volumes of data are driving a fast, hyper-connected economy. With technology continuing to impact the business world at a fast-moving pace, we are seeing several companies shift their focus from merely adopting new technologies to developing a fully digital management strategy. Digital transformation is no longer just about upgrading to a new software program, it is about making sure any new adoptions will work for your business long-term. In 2018, we can expect to see smaller businesses emulating the enterprise by placing more emphasis and budget allocation toward finding new ways to work more efficiently in order to better their business. As such, we’ll see companies better harnessing all of their data that resides in various departments of the business to help inform strategic planning and improve decision-making.


Trend 2: The move to the cloud

Cloud technology is impacting businesses of all sizes. As business systems become increasingly cloud-based, we will continue to see more companies move to cloud technology platforms in 2018. With mobility, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) coming more into play, businesses will look to cloud platforms to streamline operations and maximize productivity. Having easy access to the cloud levels the playing field for businesses, making advanced technological capabilities such as application customization, security, sales and marketing optimization, personal assistants accessible and affordable to organizations of all sizes. Cloud technologies offer great agility, flexibility, scalability, and mobility, making the cloud imperative for today’s businesses.

Furthermore, today’s technology requires businesses to operate at a fast pace so that they can serve customers in any time zone. The cloud enables you to compete on a global level without many resources. IDC predicts that by 2020, as much as 70% of software, services, and technology spending will be based in the cloud. As many companies prepare for a new fiscal year, here are some helpful questions to consider: What is your cloud strategy? What’s your vision on how the cloud can help your business? What improvements can be made to your business operations and customer service? What cloud technologies are your competitors using today?


Trend 3: Globalization

We talked about how cloud-based technology and digital transformation allow businesses to compete in a new way. In 2018, the hyper-connected economy will start to become a necessity for companies. Many industries in Canada are going global due to a faster economy driven by the tech industry. Businesses will begin to feel the pressure to meet increasing customer demands and competitive pressures, which will require them to shift to an always on-demand model. Businesses that develop a data-driven digital culture will be better equipped to meet the rising demands of the future. Globalization requires organizations to streamline their processes and shift to an agile mindset. As you prepare for a fast-paced economy and a shift to a global operation, answer these questions: How might your current business processes improve to enable digital initiatives? Are your systems able to support the speeds of delivery that your customers demand? How do your systems support global locations and employees?


Trend 4: Big Data and analytics

Big Data has been a hot topic for many businesses in the last few years. Today’s digital culture is generating massive amounts of data. Companies are now able to use this data to gain insight into customer behavior, learn more about their workforce, improve decision-making, and drive growth. In 2018, companies will learn how to effectively manage this data to their advantage by taking a deeper dive into analytics and insights to improve their growth strategy. Data is experiencing explosive growth, doubling every two years as everything in the business becomes digital. This rapid rate of growth can easily overwhelm existing infrastructure, technology, and people, which may have adverse impacts on the way data is being handled and prioritized. Businesses will need to find resources to mine all of this data and provide actionable insights to inform and support strategic planning. How are you putting your data to use for the growth of your business?


Trend 5: Securing your assets

In the New Year, we will also start to see businesses build upon their infrastructure to make sure their data is as securely protected as possible. Just as AI, IoT and mobility create opportunity, they also open the door to new potential risks. Security threats are everywhere, and companies must ensure they have a data security strategy in place that is continuously being reviewed and updated in order to respond to the constant changing of market conditions and external forces. This strategy should be led from the top down (i.e. business leaders), rather than by IT. Organizational alignment, as well as a refined assessment of the potential liabilities in play, will be key to preventing security breaches in the coming year.

Is your business thinking about the trends that will impact daily operations in 2018? How are you preparing?


Nancy Teixeira is VP of Scale-up and Enterprise, Sage