Three business trends to watch this year

  1. trends for 2018
    Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Business Editor, UKBF & AWEB

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    You’ve arrived. This is it. The most comprehensive and indisputably accurate Hitchiker’s Guide to 2018. Er, okay, maybe not -- but I think it’s pretty good.

    I’ve scanned the dim horizon and treacherous terrain stretching out before us and I’ve picked three big things I reckon you should look at/think about/talk about/prepare for. Just three? Yeah, well, I didn’t have time to write a book!

    This is where you can help me: have I missed something? Am I full of crap? What do you think will be the big or important trends of 2018? Leave your thoughts, suggestions, effusive praise and invective in the comments below.

    GDPR and data protection

    You’re probably sick of the acronym GDPR, already. It’s the term on everyone’s lips. Well, I say ‘everyone’, mostly just someone using GDPR as a guise to sell you something.

    The general data protection regulation are important, though. The law -- which comes into effect on May 25, 2018 -- solidifies the individual’s ownership of data that concerns them. It also makes businesses that hold data accountable for safeguarding any data they hold.

    It all sounds very ominous and scary, but don’t let the scaremongering frighten you. Ignore the “GDPRubbish” as the digital law specialist Heather Burns called it. So skip the snake oil and just focus on getting it right.

    As Burns also pointed out, there will be a few new formal data protection policies, but organisations that already comply with existing data protection legislation will find GDPR’s new requirements elementary.

    If you’d like to brush up on what exactly is required, then check out the Information Commissioner’s Office’s official guide.

    MTD (making tax digital)

    Making tax digital (or making tax difficult, depending on your viewpoint) is the UK’s effort to drag its byzantine tax system into the digital age. The changes encompass a swathe of changes, but most notably it’ll introduce mandatory quarterly filing.

    Now, calling this a trend for 2018 is a touch misleading. Of course, MTD has been delayed until next year April, mercifully giving the nation’s businesses another year to prepare.

    And prepare you must. While 2018 will be free of any compliance deadlines for MTD, it’s still rumbling on in the background. It’s coming and first up will be quarterly VAT filing next year.

    The initial focus on VAT will miss the UK’s smallest businesses, but income tax is likely to back on the agenda after 2020. The time to get ready is now. Speak to your accountant, they’ll be able to guide you and ensure that you’ve got the right software in place (and you will need software, I’m afraid).

    Digital assistants and AI

    Another big tall of snake oil: AI. Okay, okay -- I can almost hear many on the forums groaning at the mention of super-sexy AI robot chat, but hear me out.

    This year, we should  finally see AI infiltrate our work and private lives in manifold prosaic and simple ways. Digital assistants, in particular, have a lot of promise.

    Voice command and voice search have come on leaps and bounds from being a punchline. Digital assistants can already handle basic queries like “How much did I earn last month” or “How much tax do I owe?”.

    The next step is embedding them into our daily work, taking all the data we churn out and interpreting it to help solve issues around cash flow, financing and invoices. All that and asking it about the weather.

    What are the biggest changes or trends you see affecting your business in 2018? 

  2. Joel Huang

    Joel Huang UKBF Newcomer

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    Following are some trends which are affecting our business in 2018:
    1. The arrival of Augmented Intelligence
    2. Artificial Intelligence moves to the mainstream
    3. Automation achieves dramatic growth
    4. The end of quality, the rise of the experience economy
    5. The brick and mortar apocalypse
    6. Blockchain everything.

    Posted: Feb 6, 2018 By: Joel Huang Member since: Nov 8, 2017