During my 8 years in technology recruitment, I’ve seen a lot of changes in the way businesses connect with consumers and the skills that are most in demand. Here are some of the biggest trends I’ve seen in 2018 and my expectations for the year to come.
Love it or hate it, the one thing that had a huge impact on businesses across the continent this year was GDPR. As of the 25th May, companies were forced to totally reimagine how they collect, handle, store and use customer’s data, with the aim of becoming more responsible and transparent with how they use it. Data breaches are rarely out of the news and consumers are becoming savvier. For some, GDPR was a just box-ticking exercise which is now complete – but, we have yet to see the long-term effects of this regulation. It’s only a matter of time until a large organisation is caught out not complying and is made an example of.
In the short term, GDPR created a spike in demand for big data skills (amongst others). Big data and data science are two areas which have been consistently on the rise for several years as it is a candidate driven market where demand is far outstripping supply, and this looks set to continue.
At The Change Partners, many of our clients are retail businesses and we are continuing to see the way that consumer behaviours and expectations are driving change across the retail sector.
As a generally increasing trend, it comes as no surprise that eCommerce is becoming a channel preference over traditional in-store retail. According to Nasdaq, it is thought that by 2040, 95% of purchases will be facilitated by eCommerce. Businesses are trying to own as much of the sales cycle and consumer ecosystems as possible, including their primary data which we believe will be a big differentiator to the growth and success of retailers.
The way consumers engage and purchase from brands and retailers is drastically different from what it was 5 years ago.
A few examples include:
- Subscription models – with companies such as Birchbox, HelloFresh and tails.com, there is something to cater to every taste delivered frictionlessly to the end customer.
- Buy now, pay later – companies such as Topshop, ASOS.com and Beauty Bay are all working in partnership with Klarna. The payment solutions company enables customers to receive items without paying anything or paying a fraction upfront and only completing the payment for what they keep.
- Returns – free and convenient return systems and processes, with pre-printed labels and re-sealable packaging, are driving retailer preference over those that don’t offer these systems. Especially within those high-volume transactional groups, such as Gen-Z and Millennials.
Retail businesses are continually considering their supply chain processes and how to make them more efficient and Brexit-proof with the uncertainty that lies ahead. This year, we have seen one luxury retailer taking over one of their Italian leather suppliers with the aim of boosting their handbag and leather accessories business to ultimately protect the quality of their products, rather than leave them to market forces. Rivals are also making similar moves to tighten their control over supplies, including Gucci, who this year inaugurated a large leather goods facility in Tuscany with 800 staff.
Other luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton and Hermes, already have full control of their leather goods manufacturing. They’re now looking to cut lead times as they look to meet thriving demand, as consumer expectations, “now culture” and sales channels evolve.
An overarching trend with our clients, and across consumer-facing businesses, is the way that CX improvement, optimisation and re-concepting can drive true bottom line growth.
CX has become a key strategic initiative and the demand for CX experts at a senior level to drive top-down thinking has increased. Companies want to get in line with others who have been investing in CX horizontally for years already. More specialist skillsets are emerging within areas such as marketing technology and personalisation.
It seems the key to success is the collaboration between functions and teams within an organisation and unifying high standards worldwide and across all areas, as brand loyalty is the key to sustained growth.
My Predictions for 2019
The current outlook is foggy as we are all subject to the political forces and changes that are occurring globally. These impact the economy, markets and decision-making within organisations that quickly trickle down to employees and candidates.
From the conversations I have had and what I see across the market, there are several important things that I foresee:
- Spotting the opportunity: With Brexit ahead of us, it is definitely going to throw up challenges for everyone, but there will also be opportunity. Those that spot the opportunity earliest and obtain first-mover-advantage will gain the upper hand.
- A shift from outsourcing to large management consultancies, to hiring consultants in directly. As internal costs are driven down and accountability for delivery increases, we foresee a rise in the hiring of specialist technology talent that can drive change now, rather than out to large management consultancies.
- Collaboration: This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses don’t collaborate or communicate between divisions and departments internally. A common comment we hear is “we can’t think for ourselves”. We foresee a bigger drive of cross-collaboration across organisations and hiring specialist talent that can make this happen.
- Data & being customer focused is the key to success: Gathering data across all channels about your customer is only going to become more important. Nothing new here, but those businesses that don’t double down on data around their customers will see the gap between them and those that do, expand exponentially.
I run the Technology contract desk at The Change Partners – if I can be of any help to you as a client or a candidate then feel free to get in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org // 07932 642150