By Ian Taylor

With technology moving so fast, the gap has virtually closed between the promise of change and the change itself. If the media is talking about a trend that’s coming, chances are it’s already here and affecting daily life right now. In business it’s critically important to be as future-proofed as possible and this year particularly, looks set to be an anxious one. Political tensions are running high on many fronts, including North Korea’s nuclear posturing, the Brexit capers in Europe, mid-term elections in the U.S. and China’s economic and political reforms, amongst others.


2018 – The Year of the Bear Market?

Global themes and challenges always trickle down to affect individual countries, industries and ultimately, stock markets. ‘The World in 2018’ published in The Economist isn’t the only report out there that posits the probability – or inevitability – of the world starting to dip into another recession. This seems ironic, just when there’s finally positivity about global economic growth. But markets wax and wane and there’s a definite eight to ten-year cycle to such things. If central banks tighten policy too much, too quickly, conservative actions will trend.


AI is here – And It’s Real reports in its CEO Daily newsletter that 2017 was the first year AI (Artificial Intelligence) surfaced in the business community’s consciousness. In 2018 it looks set to stay as we become increasingly reliant on technology. But it’s not just technology itself that’s changing: technology is the vehicle enabling exponential change in many other fields, of which AI is just one. Thanks to rules on remote ID commercial drones will be developed faster and the next generation of mobile technology (5G) is already out there. It’s not so much a question of how things will change, but more about the pace. Insights from Management Consultancy McKinsey advise companies to prepare to move quickly, adjust strategy and be flexible. Open-mindedness to a range of business possibilities will give companies a major advantage.


Walking the Walk believes that socially-conscious Millennials disenchanted with ineffective governments, the exploitation of the planet, and the growing gap between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’, will increasingly demand more accountability. This will give rise to a generation of CEO Statespersons whose role is to step up to the plate and demonstrate that their companies are doing ‘good’ in order to secure the best talent. Environmental issues will be at the forefront of business decisions. Promotion of better health at work is becoming important too, as employers realise the benefits of keeping their employees fit and well.


Blockchain Takes Off

Blockchain appears to be the buzzword in the financial world right now. Virtual or digital currency Bitcoin seemed to hover nebulously in the background for many years, but now, Blockchain technology is being taken seriously by the markets. Leading technology media publication, TechCrunch reports that as more uses are found for the nascent technology beyond digital currencies, demand for blockchain engineers is soaring. Capital is far outpacing talent, with $3.7 billion raised through ICO’s in the US alone. According to TechCrunch, since January of last year the demand for blockchain experts on its site has grown by 700%. How this phenomenon will affect a variety of industries needs to be closely monitored during 2018.


Freelance Advances

The idea of a job for life is a distant memory. More Millennials coming into the workforce, and the need for a flexible approach from companies and individuals, has seen the rise of more project outsourcing. Freelancing or contracting is widespread. The arrangements suit both employers and contractors who crave more control over their ability to respond to new opportunities. As technology continues to blur the boundaries between work and leisure colleagues can become more connected and work smarter.


Co-working: Collegial Collaboration

With the rise of freelancing co-working spaces are springing up worldwide. Being able to work at home or in work-hubs where desks are hired for an hour, a day or a week, is a popular solution to commuting problems and the lack of available, affordable housing near city centres. WeWork – the current global leader of the co-working movement - has a membership of over 50,000 like-minded people in 294 co-working spaces in 61 cities. This approach to work is a growing one. The benefits go beyond mere convenience. The core aim of the movement has been to help people ‘make a life, not just a living’. It has enabled healthy work-life balance and the cross-pollination of ideas from people from very different industries and backgrounds.


We live in a new world every day! The ability of humans to adapt, learn and grow by the moment is crucial if we are to possess the emotional resilience, intellectual acuity and social dexterity to prosper in increasingly testing times. Leaders need to demonstrate these traits and understand how they are developed in others if organisations and communities are to thrive.  

At Sheffield we have access to a variety of professional development tools to prepare leaders for these development journeys. Please talk to us for more specific information about the customised programmes we can deliver.

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