As it appeared in the Daily Nation on January 9th, 2018
The business environment continues to evolve! Every year we witness innovative trends in business. This year is no different. A significant change in the businesses’ internal and external environment is expected globally and locally. While most of the changes go beyond boarders and affect all businesses, some are localized affecting only a few businesses. Businesses across different parts of the world may have different experiences in 2018. However, there are those trends that will affect just about every business. What business trends should Kenyan businesses watch out for in 2018?

The business environment in Kenya is fascinating. On one hand, some businesses in Kenya are focusing on aspects characteristic of the third and fourth industrial revolution. Such businesses are keen on automation, artificial intelligence, data analytics and even the latest blockchain technology. On the other hand, it is evident that a few Kenyans are still eager to go into cottage industries and others are trying to catch up with manufacturing characteristic of the first and second industrial revolution. Irrespective of whether our businesses are in the first, second, third or fourth industrial revolution, there are changes that will cut across all businesses. Here are top three business trends that I foresee shaping Kenyan businesses in 2018.

First, digitization will progress at a much faster rate. In the last two decades, we have witnessed computers, the internet, and the mobile phone transform how businesses operate. As we move into the future, we expect to see a complete digital transformation. Higher consumption of digital data in decision-making, utilization of digital media and continued digital transformation in the world of manufacturing are some trends I expect to be on the lead. Those that do not digitize are likely to die with time.

Secondly, a changing workplace is evident. Today’s workplace is made up of mainly generation Y and Z. These employees are different, they want to be involved, engaged, and recognized. They also want more flexibility. Their desire is to work in healthy work environments. They want to be trusted to do what needs to be done with less management and more of trust. These employees are more knowledgeable, they have access to information that would make their businesses succeed. As a result, we can no longer use business management practice of the 20th century and hope to keep these employees. We must make our businesses more attractive to the new breed of employees.

Finally and most important, the experience economy will blossom. Customer experience will be at the centre of business success and business failure. Customers will be looking for business that understand their needs and that provide more than a product or a service. Customers will want to work with businesses that have a clear value system. They will want businesses that make their experience seamless and painless. Customer will no longer want to be kept in the dark; they will want to know what is going on. Today’s customer wants to connect with businesses at an emotional level, how they feel is important. They are ready to walk away when their expectations are not met.

Is yours a smart company? Approach 2018 with these trends in mind to stay ahead!

Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy