Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Three years ago Forrester predicted the “age of the consumer”, an era when power falls away from companies and their brands and into the hands of a newly sophisticated, tech-enabled consumer.

Today’s business models have more to fear from dissatisfied consumers than from competitors in their own industries, warns Cliff Condon, chief research and product officer at Forrester in his contribution to Forrester’s 2017 predictions.

According to research conducted by the company, a third of online adults not only want to find new and engaging experiences, they’re willing to change brands to find them. A brand’s best strategy is customer obsession. In fact, Forrester predicts that this will equate to a clear link between customer experience and revenue growth.

It’s a market shift, according to Condon, that will necessitate a search for a new level of leadership: chief marketing officers who can make tough decisions and adapt to the new digital and customer-focused requirements. It may also result in high staff turnover in some cases, with up to a third of current chief marketing officers being replaced.

Condon says it is technology that has driven this new, empowered customer, and that technology will also play a pivotal role in allowing brands to service these consumers. Technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT) will be driving change. He warns that companies without appropriate planning and implementation strategies will come short.

Forrester predicts that at least one Fortune 500 company will go out of business this year due to poor resiliency planning, following a security breach.

Because the IoT has risen so rapidly, and there has been such a rush to deliver to market, IoT solutions are often being implemented without sufficient planning for updates, which leads Forrester to predict that more than half a million IoT devices will suffer a security breach this year. Industries that are particularly vulnerable to attack are fleet management in transportation; security and surveillance apps for government; inventory and warehouse management apps as well as industrial asset management in factories.

These attacks are not solely orchestrated by hackers. Forrester warns companies and individuals to be alert – social and political statements or donations they have made may put them at risk of attack.

The big take-out: According to Forrester’s 2017 series of trend predictions security issues, customer experience and technology may bring about shifts in the business world this year.

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