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9 successful Australian leaders share their business predictions for 2018


As 2017 hurtles towards the finish line, successful Australian business leaders are already thinking about the New Year and what it will bring.

While some are busy thinking about bitcoin and cashless payments, others are turning their thoughts to challenges of digital advertising. Some are preparing for the advancement of AI and machine learning.

Here’s what these nine successful Australian leaders are predicting for 2018.

Tara Commerford, managing director Australia & New Zealand at GoDaddy

Tara Commerford/ Supplied

The way we work is constantly evolving and becoming increasingly agile as we adapt to new technologies and new ways of thinking. Next year, I’m expecting to see greater workplace flexibility; more remote working, more people starting up passion projects and less of the tired 9-5. Our research found that 1 in 4 small business owners started their venture as a side project while being employed elsewhere. Likewise, research commissioned by the NBN showed that 80% of Australians are embracing the side hustle – taking on extra money-making projects outside their day job to gain greater fulfilment than they can find in the office. 2018 is going to be the year that more Aussies than ever are inspired to turn their passion projects into a reality.

Dan Ross, managing director, Australia & New Zealand at Optimizely

Dan Ross/ Supplied

I expect to see more companies pushing the limits of what’s possible within their organisation. Rather than basic website AB testing as so many organisations have relied upon to date, I see more and more companies utilising data from around their firm to improve their customer experience and internal operations. Basically saying “we have all this data, why aren’t we using it?

Tony Ward, ANZ country manager at Dropbox

Tony Ward/ Supplied

Three predictions I think will shape businesses agendas in 2018 are collaboration, innovation and creativity. Collaboration and knowledge-sharing are the key pillars upon which great ideas and businesses are created. Businesses will increasingly find ways to break down barriers to foster collaboration and open up opportunities to not only drive productivity but to create “collisions” of ideas. This is particularly important as AI becomes more mainstream – human skills of adaptability, creativity and resilience will be more important than ever before. For leaders, this will require a re-look at how they measure employee success, reshaping KPIs from productivity to include outputs such as creativity and breakthrough thinking. User-led innovation will continue to be a focus for businesses. The two forces of “consumerisation of tech” coupled with the “future of work” is bringing in a new era of tech within companies, empowering employees to work, collaborate and ideate how they want, when they want.

Ben Pfisterer, Australia country manager at Square

Ben Pfisterer/ Supplied

In 2018, I think we are going to see a push towards the cashless economy, with strong growth in the number of card-only businesses. A recent survey of Square sellers indicated that more than half believe they could go completely cashless today if they needed to. Next year, a trend I believe will also see a significant spike in is omnichannel selling, where eCommerce and traditional retail channels merge. While it has been common practice for large businesses to have a single view of their sales across all channels, it’s crucial that smaller sellers can also implement an omnichannel approach to stay competitive in the market. With the imminent arrival of more online retail giants, I think we are going to see more bricks and mortar retailers finding they need a strong online presence and online retailers venturing into physical stores. Integrated platforms that help businesses take and track payments in-store, online or over the phone are now more accessible and affordable than ever, so we should see significant growth in in this space.

Kendra Banks, chief commercial officer at SEEK

Kendra Banks/ Supplied

We’re excited to see how machine learning and AI continues to evolve in 2018. We are already delivering a better search and matching experience with SEEK through AI. I look forward to exploring how we can refine our capabilities in this field further so technology can add greater efficiencies in the employment process, improving the hiring process for candidates and employers alike.

Chris Strode, founder at Invoice2go

Chris Strode/ Supplied

Digital, cashless payments have been gaining in popularity year over year and reshaping the business landscape. This year we’ll see a continuation of that trend. We may not be completely cashless yet, but we’ll see more consumers demanding digital payments, and businesses offering more ways to pay. It’s good news for every type of business, particularly the smallest of businesses who rely on strong cash flow to keep the wheels turning. 2018 will be another fascinating year for digital currency, particularly blockchain, the technology behind currencies like bitcoin. Awareness is growing, and while we’re still not at mainstream adoption, we’ve got everyone from small tech companies to big banks and government talking about how to make use of it. This year, awareness will grow significantly, as it begins seeping further into more platforms than what it originally become popular for. Over time, blockchain will completely change the face of financial technology as we know it.

Richard Knott, regional director, APAC at Celtra

Richard Knott/ Supplied

Sites like Facebook, Amazon, WeChat, Apple News, and SnapChat, that cannot be accessed by marketers through the open web through a standard programmatic exchange, known as “walled gardens”, will continue to grow and dominate advertising spend in 2018. However, there will be a small trade-off in that some selected external tech stacks will be permitted in, when forced, by the agencies and brands. As, for example, happened with the recent introduction of some attribution and verification vendors. This was a small but important step forward, and one we will see replicated across more walled gardens with more types of tech. The result will be a new “inclusive digital marketing ecosystem” as a compromise between open or walled.

Matthew van der Linden, managing director at Flow Power

Matthew van der Linden/ Supplied

I have to say it – flying cars – but I’d like to be involved in inventing those and I simply won’t have the time next year! On a serious note, I am interested in helping shape the Federal Government’s National Energy Guarantee. We look forward to the policy stability that it could deliver as well as how we could integrate our kWatch Intelligent Controllers to make demand response common in the Australian Energy Market. We want to change the way businesses buy power in Australia. That means a good dose of technology combined with transparency and flexibility – all resulting in lower power bills. We’ll see what the market does with that.

Sharndre Kushor, COO and co-founder of Crimson Education

Sharndre Kushor/ Supplied

It’d be great to see 3D printing overtake VR and become a hero in its own right as it becomes more accessible and economical. Consumers are more and more aware of the value of being able to fully visualise creations, especially when it comes to product development and R&D. So it would be great to see this technology come to the fore.

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