The seven trends of Slush

December 30, 2018

Where are we heading?

By Elisa Pyrhönen and Susanna Heiskanen, Idean Finland

A group of Ideanists experienced Slush in Helsinki this December with an open mind, curiosity about the technonlogy trends driven by startups and larger companies alike, and eagerness to digest the learnings of the top speakers. Here are the seven main themes that we gathered:

We can almost take the ‘corporate’ out from ‘corporate responsibility’, as it’s on all of us. Again and again, we saw and heard the themes of accountability, understanding the full impact of our work, our blind spots, being critical about our worldview, and doing what is really needed, not what is fun to do. We saw this shift already in Nordic Business Forum: less extravaganza, and more concern whether the mark we leave is a good, sustainable one.

Whether it’s our colleagues or the content we consume, we’re better off with a richer palette to feed our imagination. And the more of a monoculture we’ve stepped into, the harder it becomes to diversify. Hiring the right people was repeated again and again, when serial entrepreneurs and venture capitalists were listing drivers for success (or lack thereof): now, there were increasing admissions of both the benefits of diversity and the need to do better in this.

The AI scene is hot, no doubt. But with maturity comes responsibility. Yes, AI can do work we cannot and nudge us out of our own, first intuition. But we’re still catching up on the governance and best practices. New, softer skills are sorely needed, both in the boardroom and with the creators of AI, to work with the inbuilt biases and unintended consequences. Not only the data supply channel, but our business models will need to be scrutinized… and we haven’t even started on the impact beyond business, but in society and our everyday lives.

We’re already used to a fast internet that does nearly everything we want. Now, our future internet will actually do things before we even have given consent. From grocery store connected home appliances, weather tracking cars to always-on listening devices, our future is in the hands of 5G, blockchain and machine learning. And, that voice interface.

If anything, Slush is made of dreams of stellar success - and matchmaking between start-ups and venture capital. Perhaps not surprising then, we’ve seen an increased focus on the metrics for success. However, numbers can sometimes be a bit blind spot. Understanding the user is going to be even more in the core. The real value of user research is about quickly finding the pain point of users where the quick wins can be made.

In B2C landscape, we’ve learnt to identify the consumer’s purchase motivations – personal values, desirability, external pressure, safety, and so on. However, these emotions are in a constant flux and in the bigger picture, it affects our understanding of the consumer sentiment. How the emotions affect in the B2B landscape, is an increasing trend to watch.

The meaning of great design is still quite multi-faceted. However, we were happy to see that UX and good user research made it to the big stages, being referenced as an everyday, essential part of running a business. We believe that 2019 will be the year that shows the value of design, and it will finally enter the boardroom and seen as strategic value to the organization.