Schibsted Future Report 2018 is Schibsted’s outlook on trends within tech, society, and business. For the fourth year, Schibsted employees, and some of our friends, shared trend observations within their fields, their knowledge, and exciting thoughts.

Trends of interest touch of new technological advances and revisiting seemingly dated ways of getting around.
Trends of interest touch of new technological advances and revisiting seemingly dated ways of getting around.

These are 10 of the most interesting topics in the report.

1. Artificial Intelligence will change society at its foundational level: Imagine the world without electricity. Or at least consider the impact it has had on society, from the first lamps lightning up houses to revolutionising industries and completely changing everyday life.

AI will do the same. Instead of just being part of individual innovations, it is changing the whole landscape in ways we’re not yet able to see. And just like with electricity, we will take it for granted — and life without it will be inconvenient and unpleasant.

2. Voice is the new interface: AI is already revolutionising many different areas. Voice is the big thing, and even though speaking to Siri isn’t much of an exciting experience yet, voice services are improving quickly. The fact is we will probably interact with most devices by speaking to them. No more complicated interfaces; instead, we will be able to just speak our wishes out loud. The future will be all hands-free.

3. Human-like robots will challenge us: The robots are definitely here to stay — and not only in advanced industries. Human-like robots are not a fantasy or sci-fi concept anymore. Some say they will be our personal companions at home, serving us, knowing what we want when, and supporting our day-to-day life.

But research shows the more robots look like humans, the harder it will be to accept them, and the harder it will be to know how to interact with and treat them. New questions will arise, and, in the end, perhaps the integration of human and technology will redefine what it means to be human.

4. The circular economy will bring about new businesses: How much stuff do we really need? Earth is struggling with our consumption as the world population grows. One way to address this is to create a more circular economy where we reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle.

This also means new business opportunities. This is a US$4.5 trillion opportunity, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Numerous companies will explore and innovate within this field.

5. Sustainability is a growing movement: On an individual level, there is a movement going on. People want to take action to make a change. Looking at the world, many of us are thinking that enough is enough — let’s do our bit.

Secondhand trade is booming, and people are avoiding using plastic bags, growing their own vegetables, using car-sharing services, buying fair trade, and caring how goods are produced. Even if each of these actions in and of themselves is not saving the world, we as consumers do have the power to make a change.

6. Archetypes behind strong brands: When the competition in the digital space is overwhelming, you need to know how to leverage your brand. Looking at companies like Google and Facebook, there is some clear guidance: Simplicity and coherence together with strong archetypical traits goes back to the core. As Schibsted updates its global brand, our legacy will be the pillar stone.

7. Facts power journalism: Journalism still faces many challenges, but the power and commitment to strengthen society remains. The way forward will be to fight fake news with true facts. Focus on irrefutable facts, context, and depth: Therein lies the power of journalism, states Torry Pedersen, head of editorial at Schibsted.

Using technology is also crucial. At Schibsted’s Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, an algorithm is running the front page. This allows journalists to focus on the content.

8. Digital health is taking off: Looking for an investment? Digital health is on the go. After being the talk of the town for a while, managed marketplaces with advanced algorithms and machine learning have entered the market, making the sector a reality.

The key to success will be to empower customers and provide new working tools for professionals. Smarter marketplaces and finance technologies challenging banks are other interesting investment areas.

9. Biking into the future: Transportation has been a lot about autonomous cars lately, and we even talk about space travels. But perhaps the vehicle of the future is a 200-year-old invention! New sharing services have made biking explode, and more and more cities are looking into how to adapt to transportation on two wheels. There are health and environmental benefits — and of course the feeling of freedom. 

10. Three ways of plugging the gender gap: The gender issue has been high on the agenda. In tech, attracting women has been a challenge for a long time now, and no doubt this is a critical issue. After all, diversity pays off with high returns.

The report also includes these three pieces of advice for the New Year:

1. Coaching and soft skill development: It is essential to recognise the unconscious differences and biases between men and women in the workplace and provide training open to all to help create equality in the organisation.

2. Female-focused networking and mentorship programmes: This will help advnace general career development. It is a method used by 30 global companies to achieve higher diversity across all levels.

3. A data-driven approach to diversity: What gets measured gets managed.