“Permacrisis” was the 2022 Collins Dictionary word of the year, and this year, people are seeking ways to adapt in an uncertain world.

Accenture identified five emerging trends that will alter the power dynamic between brands and customers in the coming 12 months and beyond:

1: Permacrisis and human adaptability

2: What’s next for loyalty?

3: The importance of work intangibles

4: AI is now in people’s hands for creativity

5: Digital wallets: a question of adoption

These are expanded in more detail in their Life Trends 2023 report.

Emerging technologies are giving control to the people, with never-before-seen outcomes for businesses and individuals.

Artificial intelligence lets people express their natural creativity, Web3 offers the chance to help shape the brands they love, and tokenization may soon hand them full control over their personal data.

These seemingly small shifts in control will alter power dynamics on a systemic level. Business leaders must wonder: How much of themselves will customers be willing to give to brands?

How will brands build trust and leverage new technologies for growth?

Building on the 15-year legacy of Fjord Trends, this report—Accenture Life Trends 2023—has the same inspiring content. This year’s report is rooted in life centricity and examines the ways in which people are adapting their lives and making use of emerging technology to meet their changing needs.

To examine the report in greater detail, we spoke to Katie Burke, Accenture Song’s Metaverse Continuum Global Content & Offering Lead, working with clients around the globe on their entry into the next wave of the internet.

She has over fifteen years of consulting experience, working as an experience designer across multiple industries.

Sitting within Accenture Song’s innovation and thought leadership practice, she currently serves as the lead content writer for the annual Life Trends report, as well as leading Accenture Song’s ground-up innovation program, that explores technologies that are signalling on the future of humanity, future of interactions, and future of brands.

Katie’s career has been at the intersection of humans, innovation, and creativity. She has created three metaverse experiences for Accenture since the start of the pandemic and has created two thriving digital communities, which is one of the key attributes of Web3.

Accenture’s five emerging trends that will alter the power dynamic between brands and customers in the coming 12 months and beyond are presented in greater detail below.

Trend 1: Permacrisis and human adaptability

The world’s in a “permacrisis,” but we’ll adapt.

The world is lurching from one global catastrophe to the next. But, as they have for millennia, people are adapting to instability by switching between four responses: fight, flight, focus and freeze.

  • Fight: people will increasingly raise their voices against injustices
  • Flight: people will look for alternative options
  • Focus: people will cope by focusing on what they can control
  • Freeze: people will switch off entirely

Trend 2: What’s next for loyalty?

Building a community will be essential to growing a customer base.

In an unstable world, people seek out places where they feel they belong. As a result, next-gen brands will be built as communities first, reshaping loyalty and brand participation.

Three threads are converging to enable this model.

  • Communities of belonging: on platforms like Reddit, Discord and Twitch
  • Token-gating: exclusive access reserved for “token holders only”
  • Collectibles: digital arts, autographs, trading cards and more

Trend 3: The importance of work intangibles

Return to office hasn’t been a success for many—it still needs work.

Everyone’s felt the loss of intangible office benefits, like chance encounters and consistent, close guidance of junior talent. Now, the consequences of the loss are becoming clear. Without in-person engagement companies stand to lose:

  • Mentorship
  • Innovation
  • Culture
  • Inclusion

Workplace design hasn’t yet caught up to new workforce expectations. Instead of continuing to optimize what exists, companies should completely reimagine work, addressing with intention both tangibles and intangibles.

But there’s a tension brewing between those who enjoy the autonomy of remote work and those who crave the rewards of being together. Leaders will need to go back to the drawing board and create logical, mutually beneficial plans.

Trend 4: AI is now in people’s hands for creativity

AI is becoming people’s co-pilot for creativity.

Whereas artificial intelligence largely has been used by enterprises and brands as a service to people or on people, neural networks have been made widely available to create language, images and music—putting AI squarely in people’s hands as a tool for creativity. Developments are hitting the market at an astonishing speed.

For language, neural networks are being used to generate sentence structures in text based on a language model with 175 billion parameters. It’s sophisticated enough to generate copy for blogs, emails and articles (albeit copy that could then benefit from some human editing).

For sound, Jukebox is a neural net that generates music—including rudimentary singing—as raw audio in a variety of genres and artistic styles.

For images, Midjourney is a closed-source, deep learning model for creating images from text and even from other images.

Companies need to think about how they will stand out in the sea of AI-generated content. How can you use AI to enhance the speed and originality of innovation?

Trend 5: Digital wallets: a question of adoption

Digital wallets could end the digital identity crisis.

The use (and misuse) of personal data is long overdue for a transformation. Transparency and trust in online brand experiences are quickly diminishing in tandem.

But control could soon switch hands. Digital wallets containing tokens (representing payment methods, ID, loyalty cards and more) will allow people to decide how much data they share with—and even sell to—organizations. That’s great news for brands: the data that people do hand over will be even more valuable than the third-party information that is no longer collected in our “cookieless” world.

Building customer confidence in digital wallets could be a challenge. Although it’s early days, companies can accelerate adoption by:

  • Showing people that data control is worth the time investment
  • Making tokens easy to obtain and use in day-to-day transactions
  • Helping people understand a wallet’s function beyond payments
  • Understanding the permission levels people can grant to businesses

Resources mentioned
Accenture Life Trends Report 2023
Dom Price, Work Futurist at Atlassian Podcast
Dr Lynn Gribble on the opportunities for Generative AI in Education
Solid Project at MIT

More on Katie
Katie on LinkedIn
Katie on Accenture.com