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Trend: 2018 Forecast

A 2018 forecast, as told by resident businesses of The Office Space.  The Office Space is made up of a community of great thinkers and brilliant business minds. When starting to imagine the shape of things to come in 2018, we decided to turn to our resident businesses to paint a picture, industry-to-industry. Here’s what they had to say.   Tony Grierson, Ageus Leadership recruitment “Trust and consistency will (finally!) be the focus for the political, corporate, and social sectors of developed societies: The trend will pick up the pace for large corporations realising that their social contracts with the society they operate in are as critical as their legal and financial imperatives, and that trust is a long-term asset that has to be recognised and valued to ensure long-term sustainability and growth. The recent trend towards transactional leadership will start to abate as governments, boards and CEOs realise that the costs of constant, and most often unnecessary ego-driven changes, far outweigh the stated or perceived benefits. Consistency and reliability need to be recognised and valued to ensure long-term sustainability and growth And finally – the in ‘thing’ this summer will be the simple, rustic sparkling wine known as Pet-Nat!” aegeus.asia

Sandy Halpin, Capital Idea Consulting and advisory for high potential start-ups, SMEs, and founders “I’d like to see the concept of VALUE explored more and applied better in 2018. The concept of value is something that I find fascinating.  The value that a person puts on anything is a matter of perspective and is unique to that person – whether that person is a customer, supplier, founder, investor or even commentator. The diversity of these ‘unique’ perspectives creates an interesting dilemma for businesses and is one of the factors contributing to business uncertainty and shaky consumer confidence.  Only this week, the iconic Oroton announced that after a period of poor performance it was moving into voluntary administration.  It’s since been reported that customers have flooded the online and outlet stores to find themselves a bargain. It’s the customers’ behavior that provides some insight into value.  There’s still clearly demand for the product, but not at the price the company is offering to customers.  Oroton’s perception of value and their customers’ perception of value are clearly not aligned.   I wonder whether the viability and credit risk of Oroton would have been different if they acknowledged the misalignment in value and adopted a pricing strategy that aligned more closely to their customers’ views. Since the GFC we’ve become conditioned to an endless stream of sales and the messages inherent in those sales.  Businesses are essentially screaming out to customers that their products aren’t worth the RRP, but wait a few weeks and they’ll be discounted by 25% – 40% (a more realistic value).  Businesses are admitting that they have the value proposition all wrong. If a business is constantly spruiking heavily discounted sales on 6-8 week old inventory, what’s the impact on the brand and brand equity? I can’t help but think, “how are businesses surviving when they seem to keep getting the basics wrong?”  Harsh?  Perhaps.  But consider this – if you know your customer and price your products in alignment with their perception of value then, arguably, constant discounted sales will be redundant. Current inventory will move at full price.   Inventory holding costs will reduce.  Cashflow will improve and the health of your business will begin to recover. Just as fascinating is the tension between founders and investors when assessing the value of an Early Stage Venture (startup or scaleup). Raising funds to start and scale is grueling and can be really confronting for many founders.  Generally speaking, many founders overestimate the value of their venture and haven’t really considered or understood value from the perspective of their potential investors.  There’s typically an emotional attachment to the concept, a substantial optimism bias and little desire to be (and a massive fear of being) diluted.  It’s also true that the perception of value among investors can vary wildly which is why it’s critical that founders focus on understanding what value means to each of the investors they meet.  Ultimately, the same principles of aligning value apply to founders and investors, although investors are acquiring an undefined probability of future returns instead of a physical product. Ultimately there’s a responsibility to communicate value effectively – because when it’s not, customers and investors walk away and move onto the next opportunity.  Done well, there’s a 2-way ‘conversation’ that will either result in a sale (or investment) or valuable feedback that will help shape future interactions.” capitalidea.com.au

Drew Fellows / The Eatery & Amico Agency Branding and design, specialising in the world of hospitality “In the hospitality space, successful operators will tell better brand stories with an omnichannel approach before, during and after the dining experience. Similarly, in the branding and design industry, artful brands will look at the experience they offer customers and clients, in order to build deeper, richer and longer relationships.” eaterygroup.com.au amico.agency

Amanda Davidson, OAM, Principal at Davidson Law and legal services, specialising in Australian and international construction industry “Gig Versus Big. There have been enormous changes in the legal services industry over the past 5 to 10 years with the pace of change increasing exponentially in the past two years. Those changes have ranged from the acquisition of many of Australia’s best-known law firm brands by international firms to the increase of the use of incorporated and listed company structures as opposed to traditional partnership structures.   Most recently there has been the advent of law firms not based on either structure – known as “New Law” – where individuals come together to share resources and costs under a single brand umbrella. No longer satisfied with the “one-stop-shop” pitch of the major firms where partners’ incomes are based on how well they “cross-sell” their clients to other partners and how well they leverage junior solicitors into client work, clients are looking for better ways to obtain legal support. The very concept of brand in law firms has changed significantly, so that it is no longer the firm name that attracts clients, but rather it is the brand of the individual that is the differentiator. My prediction is that the larger firm brands will continue to be challenged by niche players, individuals with their own brand and who have leading expertise in the specialisations that clients need. The emergence of the gig economy and philosophy of sharing now present in many other industries will transfer to the legal services industry. The market will see more gig players – individual lawyers who are leaders in their field of expertise who want to work alongside other such leaders, no matter what firm they are in. Collaboration with other like-minded leaders will be the key to the best client service.  And the gigs might just give the bigs a run for their money.” adlc.com.au

Stephen Robinson, SRP Agency Branding and film 

“In the world of film and entertainment marketing, technology sets the pace. Speed is of prime importance and maintaining quality and originality within ever reducing timeframes is paramount. It’s a big challenge but expertise and the ability to adapt always wins. The year ahead will be faster and more challenging with many areas of marketing amalgamating and homogenising. More than ever it’s important to stay one step ahead of the game and stand out in an ever-increasing crowd.” srp.agency/studio-info/

Tina Cameron, Associate Director NZ, Quest Worldwide

Change management consultancy “2018 – Managing Change. 2018 and the years ahead are likely to involve more change than we have ever had to deal with in our history.  These changes come with some very exciting opportunities, many of which we can not even imagine at this time.  Robotics, automation, driverless vehicles, Artificial Intelligence, virtual & augmented reality, 3D printing, cryptocurrencies are just a few examples that will bring innovations and change to our industries and personal lives that are both exciting and intimidating. As with all changes, there are many challenges ahead that come along with the opportunities.  I anticipate one of the biggest challenges ahead will be equipping ourselves, our businesses and our people for the change, ensuring we are proactive in anticipating, learning, preparing and embracing the changes ahead that will benefit us.  The key will be in prioritising and making decisions about what opportunities we DO want to explore and which ones we DON’T. The biggest questions we should be asking ourselves as we prepare for the change are,

  1. “Are we doing enough?” – to learn and prepare ourselves, so we understand the opportunities and can benefit from them when the time is right.
  2. “Are we being strategic in choosing what NOT to do?”  Simplification will be a much-needed focus.
  3. “Are we preparing our people for change” – equipping them with the professional, mental and emotional fortitude required to adapt and respond to the change positively


Find out more about resident business at The Office Space here.

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