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Nine business trends to watch out for in SA

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The latest business environment scan by the Institute for Futures Research (IFR) at Stellenbosch University produced nine important trends emerging on the South African business landscape.

According to IFR futurist Doris Viljoen, shifts in doing business are taking place that should be taken cognisance of. It can either carry risk or present new business opportunities.

Sharing everything

Sharing excess capacity is becoming a more common trend globally and especially in the logistics of moving goods between different points. This trend is also shifting towards unutilised space, where for example an empty boardroom at a corporate are rented out when not in use.

The new customer

Customers are increasingly looking for convenience when dealing with a company, seamlessness in interaction, receiving only relevant communications, combined with amplified levels of personalised service.

People want to feel that a company knows their needs intimately, even intuitively. There is also a shift in communication preference from text to voice or short video clips.

Sustainability version 2.0

Customers want to know everything about a product on offer from a company - where it was sourced from, what happens during the production process and what happens after the product’s first life cycle has ended.

This also touches on the notion of “sharing everything” and that everyday things like cars, office space and equipment are rented out when idle. The underlying philosophy is that there is no such thing as waste. When engineering a product, companies will have to give consideration about what happens after the first life of a product is over.

Hail the Hero

There is a move in advertising towards telling a “good story” about people rather than just showing a product; giving recognition to good deeds of individuals and selling social impact rather than products.

Create individual experiences
People want more choices and be able to have input in the design of the products and services that they intend using. Technological developments support this trend and make it possible for businesses to offer individualised products and services to a niche market of one.

Mobile money

Money has gone mobile with the internet and cell phones. New payment and disbursement options are developing in the agricultural industry - payment for produce, subsidies, loan repayments and B2B supplier payments - as well as in government services - tax collection, license payments, bonds, pension payments, social securities and subsidies.


Exciting new ways of contracting are emerging. In the past, businesses bought assets, employed maintenance staff and kept spares on site.  

Nowadays we see bus

inesses contracting for capability – airlines contracting for flight hours - rather than renting aeroplanes - providers of medical services contracting for access to beds - rather than building and maintaining a hospital - and buildings buying light - rather than installing bulbs and paying someone for the maintenance thereof.


While there was collaboration across the value chain till now, this is shifting towards collaboration across industries.

Increased interest in the arts

There is a new interest in the arts and artists’ way of thinking.  Companies increasingly value the approach that artists have to the world, giving them a seat at the boardroom table and in this way energise meetings and contribute to innovative thinking.

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