Austin, Texas is undoubtedly a melting pot of self-proclaimed “weirdness.” The flair of our city is influenced by the 150 people moving to Austin everyday; everyone from musicians, to tech gurus and California hipsters have left their boot marks on the culture of this city.

At the SHIFT ATX office, our client portfolio is just as eclectic. We were established as an office with B2B tech and security expertise, and we continue to serve that area with clients in data management, AI and machine learning, and endpoint threat protection and security training. But as we grow here in the Lone Star state, our team and our clients diversify as well. In 2017, we began working with a local HR tech company and entered our second year with a work management company from Utah. Needless to say, we’ve got our finger on the pulse of several different B2B industries and, coincidingly, the B2B trends happening within each.

But no matter how wide our reach is from a client service perspective, our team has noticed two key trends that have and will continue to impact our clients in the year past and year ahead.

What we saw in 2017: Culture in King

The importance of building strong company culture that supports an organization’s core goals (whether that be workplace/employee related or cybersecurity related) was a huge priority for companies in 2017.

From a workplace/employee standpoint—through examples set by Uber, Google and countless others—we saw that bad culture can have a serious impact on a company’s ability to recruit and keep talent, grow its customer base and even its revenue and earnings.

And in the security space, conversations around creating a culture of cybersecurity became more relevant as we saw several large security breaches splash across the front pages. Security companies placed more priority on pushing healthy dialogue forward that advocated for security training and awareness among end users and ultimately making security a board room issue. Companies need all players in the game (from C-Suite to intern) to not just be aware of what a phish or ransomware attempt looks like, but be personally invested in the security posture of their organization.

For forward-thinking companies in all industries this year, culture is no longer just an afterthought that may or may not help your Glassdoor rating. Rather, it’s helping create agreement and partnership among employees in the workplace and giving them a connection to the larger goals of their company that will create lasting change (whatever that desired change may be).

What we’ll see in 2018: Everybody Loves Automation

While we were collecting 2018 predictions from our entire client roster the past few months, it was clear that automation is on everyone’s minds (think: machine learning, chat bots, AI). While many claim AI is over-hyped and a saturated market, the fact is that AI-based technology has already touched several industries in 2017 and will be the big elephant in the board room for years to come.

And automation is no longer solely a high-tech topic. It will be relevant to “softer tech” trades, and virtually all other industries, in 2018. For our security training client, that means thinking about auto-enrollment in training courses, better analytics on end user performance and improved notifications and communication with employees.

And for our HR clients, this translates to major changes in the way the workplace operates from a fundamental level. Think: How will employees deal with robots in the office? Are they afraid machines are replacing their jobs? What does this mean for talent acquisition and retention? And so on.

Without strong culture, companies will have a very difficult time gaining buy-in from their employees, especially with (sorry, I’m going to say it) millennials and Gen Z demanding to know how their work impacts the larger company. Similarly, delaying to embrace automation will come to a head in 2018. Companies will benefit by thinking about how they can leverage this new technology in a way that improves the livelihood of their business and their employees.

Emily Eldridge
Senior Account Executive



Keep in Touch

Want fresh perspective on communications trends & strategy? Sign up for the SHIFT/ahead newsletter.

Ready to shift ahead?

Let's talk