Key business trends in 2018

21 December 2017

It is again the time of the year to start preparing your business for the future. Especially for SMEs, it is crucial to constantly adapt your business to keep up with the ever-changing technologies that are moving the world forward.


Start planning for business transformation based on these key trends that will dominate the new year.

Internationalisation by leveraging on the ASEAN network


Singapore will assume chairman of ASEAN in 2018, which will bring greater opportunities for businesses to expand overseas.


"Singapore will work with the Asean member states to streamline regional trade rules governing e-commerce to promote greater digital connectivity, and help companies more easily access new markets and overseas customers," said Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade).


This means that it is going to be easier than ever for local companies to ship goods and outsource production of lower value goods to countries where labour is cheaper. A standardisation of customs procedures also lowers barriers for expansion abroad. Moving production to cheaper economies with lower labour costs, like Thailand and Vietnam, would not only grow your profit margins but also potentially protect iti.

“If you’re an investor of stock exchange, it will be easier to invest to other ASEAN countries. And the rules on foreign bank entry are now further liberalised,” said Wilhelmina Manalac of BSP (Central Bank of the Philippines).ii

The financial sector would also benefit substantially from the network due to more cross-border movements of investment and services. Financial entities should seize this opportunity to start expanding their financial products and services offerings in accordance to the greater needs of the ASEAN community.


With an increasing number of policies being implemented in favour of internationalisation, it would only become a more attractive option to businesses in Singapore, and an opportunity you would not want to miss out on.

Rise of the experience economy


Companies used to be able to win customers over with premium quality. With millennials, not anymore. Make way for the experience economy.


This generation places a high value on experiences, and are increasingly spending time and money on them, from concerts to cultural experiences and overseas traveliii.

“The easiest way to create sharability is to give people an experience,” offers Franz Aliquo, Creative Director at ad agency RPM. “Something that turns their mundane day-to-day into something magical.”iv

Clearly, there isn’t a better time for brands to place resources into experiential marketing. When you offer a memorable experience to your customers, they are more likely to stay loyal to your brand and come back again.


Here are 3 ways in which you can curate an unforgettable customer experience:


  1. Define your target customer personalities

    Identify, track and understand your typical customer behaviour, and how they react across the phases from discovery to purchase.One way to define your target market is to put faces and people to your demographics. Consider factors like age, geographical location, gender, educational level, marital status, occupation, attitudes, personality, values, interests, and behaviour. Humanising your demographic allows you to relate much more accurately and logically to predict how your audience would most probably behave.

  2. Utilise marketing tools to create a personalised experience

    With the ability to test and collect relevant data, there is no reason why you cannot create an excellently personalised customer experience. Take advantage of analytics tools to keep building the profiles of your prospective customers so you know how to better serve them.

  3. Identify where the customer lands in the journey

    Understanding and meeting the needs of your customers at every stage of the experience is essential. From discovery, assessment, selection, to purchase phase – know their needs and find ways to answer the doubts or questions that are hindering the purchasev.
Millennial takeover


Millennials are not just dominating the market, they are taking over the leadership roles as well. After all, millennials will represent 75% of the workforce by 2025vi.


This generation is tech savvy and well-connected. According to Dr Christian Jarret, although the stereotype marks them as self-entitled and narcissistic, millennials are especially generous and want to create an impact and positive change in the worldvii. In particular, 2016 saw a steady increase in their involvement in social groups and a sustained involvement in leadershipviii. They have disrupted the status quo and pushed boundaries, forcing businesses to rethink flexibility, mobility and purpose.


It’s wise to start investing in your promising talent now. The millennial workforce strives for growth and advancement, with 87% stating that development is important in a jobix. This group of individuals are also the ones that have become the decision-makers, and their decisions are the ones that are largely affecting where trends and markets are headed. Targeting the millennials with the right product, technology, and experience would give you an influence on the choices they make, increasing demand, and ultimately, shaping the future of businesses.

The shift to Augmented Intelligence


Artificial Intelligence is already present in many familiar technologies and applications, but its potential has yet to be fully realised. Instead of replacing human cognitive functions, many argue that AI should support and supplement human thinking, analysis and decision-making but still have the human at the centre of the human-computer interaction. Now, Augmented Intelligence (IA), man + machine, is here.


The best expectation is that the future will not be powered by AI as a standalone solution, but rather by IA solutions where man’s performance will be amplified by machine learning and cognitive technology.


The success of a business is defined by forward-looking plans. By leveraging these key trends, you could discover untapped opportunities for business growth in 2018 and beyond.


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