When we put together our 2018 predictions, four overarching themes caught my attention: separation, speed, money, and time.

Separation. The uncertain fate of many companies seems at odds with the reality that most economies, labor markets, and industries are relatively healthy. But firms born with or driving customer-led, digitally centered strategies are separating themselves from the pack. There is a nerve-wracking separation between customer expectations and the experiences most firms can deliver. And digital platforms are increasingly disintermediating brands, separating them from customers.

Speed. The pace of change is quickening for customer behaviors: As proof, the adoption of intelligent agents will outpace the adoption of mobile. Firms that are successfully driving digital transformation operate at a different speed than other firms. Conversely, the pace of change for operationally transformative technologies like AI and blockchain is far slower than marketers’ ambitions and hype.

Money. The issues of separation and speed are now affecting financials. Unmet customer expectations are resulting in churn; the lack of digital transformation is translating into loss of market share; industry lines that protected some are crumbling; and longstanding, durable business models are failing. And CX transformation is struggling to drive the kind of financials that it promises.

Time. The window is closing for firms slow to adapt to market changes; for them (and there are many of them), a smooth, methodical transition is no longer possible. They must find a strategy — whether that’s acquisition, new leadership, or something else — that changes their speed to change the game.

That is the backdrop to our 2018 predictions. We selected 13 predictions that we feel describe these four themes. They tell a story about the age of the customer gaining steam— and a story about a coming year of reckoning for the many companies struggling to keep pace with market dynamics.

We hope our 2018 predictions provide new insights and help catalyze action for your firm.