In parts one and two of my series on the recently published Fjord Trends 2017 report, I looked at the predictions and recommendations for brand content, digital design, augmented reality, self-driving cars and the connected home. In this third part, I will conclude with Fjord’s predictions on the polarization of the brand landscape, artificial intelligence and the unintended consequences of digital technologies.

Hourglass brands

The brand landscape is polarizing across all business sectors. Big platform brands that service any market occupy one end of the spectrum, and specialized brands with a unique focus form the other. Meanwhile, the mid-market players unable to command the premium prices of specialists and/or without sufficient scale struggle to move forward and stand out.

As large platform brands continue to expand their permission space and specialized brands increase in number, the squeezed middle brands must learn from brands at both ends of the spectrum.

In the 2017 recommendations, Fjord identifies key qualities of the brands that are most likely to prosper. These so-called Living Brands should:

  • Define their brand’s behavior in multiple environments and understand their brand type.
  • Find or rediscover their purpose and convey it effectively.
  • Think beyond service and demonstrate the clear difference their brand can make.

Me, myself and AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) grabbed widespread attention in the past year. But while AI has matured and AI-enabled chatbots have become commonplace, the technology is still far from replicating a human experience.

AI development is expected to accelerate in 2017, and as it becomes an established part of an organization’s design thinking, it will drive a growing need for machine-learning capabilities. To bring about the next wave of emotionally and contextually aware chatbots, organizations must define themselves—quite literally—as a person, and integrate their specific values into a variety of personalities suitable for their particular context.

Unintended consequences

Digital technologies are making it possible for organizations across every business sector to become more consumer-centric. But with consumer-centricity come privacy and security concerns, and corporations and governments have to address the challenges of digital ethics. In addition, increasing reliance on technology brings about a diminishing of skills in a wide variety of contexts.

For 2017, Fjord predicts an increased interest in digital ethics and an intensified debate on conscious capitalism. More initiatives will explore the opportunities and challenges of AI, and further structures dedicated to responsible innovation will be put in place. To guard against the unintended consequences of their actions, organizations must think harder about the implications of their business decisions and their impact on the social experience.

In summary, the coming year holds plenty of opportunities for your organization. By using the right approach with the right tools—and by putting people at the center of all your activities—you can make the most of them.

To learn more, access the complete Fjord Trends 2017 report from Accenture Digital.

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