5 Business Trends to Watch for in 2020
It’s been said, “you can trust a crystal ball about as far as you can throw it.” I think a lot of New Year’s predictions are nothing more than a toss of the crystal ball; clickbait opinions with no substance. Follow the clickbait at your own risk. That said, some opinion is informed opinion and I have come to this based upon my experiences and lessons learned in the past year in my role as a leader and helping to tackle the challenges facing clients and industries, as well as collaborating with other industry leaders. So, here’s what I see for 2020:
1. Any Serious Business Will Have Psychologists on Staff
I’ve alluded to this eventuality in several of my previous blog posts, and the time has come! Given the rise of AI, some jobs are evaporating while other job descriptions are changing. As businesses continue to shift toward AI-powered automation, workforces are contracting, and the prevalence of independent work is rising. Simply put, the workplace is becoming a lonelier place and the coworker support network is not what it used to be.
Industrial psychologists, equipped to handle everything from worker motivation to crisis counseling, are a must- have in the modern business. As the shift toward automation deepens, having experts in place to ensure that employee morale, productivity, and job satisfaction remain high is essential to a healthy, engaged workforce. For those working remotely, there is a need for “helping professionals” who are skilled at keeping remote workers connected with the business’ mission & vision and engaged with their co-workers and leaders so they feel they are an important, contributing part of the team. For leaders who want to get the edge on 2020, hire some great psychologists, and invest in experiences and learning opportunities that hone your interpersonal skills to build connections with employees, regardless of where their desk is located.
2. Rise of New Generations in the Workforce
Ready or not, Millennials continue their quick ascent toward leadership roles in our organizations. As the last wave of Boomers approach retirement, Millennials and Gen Z’s will reshape everything from office design to the contours of the typical workweek. For the Boomers that remain in leadership roles, it is essential to recognize that the new generation leaders will be in the C-Suite within a few years. As such, it’s time for the older generation to invest more in their rising talent in strategic planning, administration, and all the other facets of leadership. The older leaders must relinquish control of their businesses to remain relevant and successful for the long term.
What about GenXers? This smaller, sandwiched generation has the unenviable task of ensuring the transfer of power is timely and healthy. While GenXers may be tapped to lead many businesses right now, part of their leadership role is to serve as interpreters between the older and younger generations in the corporate world. They play a critical role in transitioning organizations to new leadership and have the characteristics – such as being technically savvy, loyal, and collaborative – to bridge the generational gaps. GenXers can provide great leadership, but it’s interim leadership.
3. Be Nimble or Die
Nimble is the name of the game in 2020. Nimble businesses have the ability to respond to consumer changes with real-time tweaks to products and services. Consider this, E-Bay and Amazon were rivals 15 years ago. Are you still buying on E-Bay?
Because consumers have a million options to choose from, organizations must keep a close eye on the pulse of their customers and be ready to respond, with the appropriate resources already lined up, when there are shifts in behaviours, wants, and needs. Pay attention to real-time feedback through social media, digital marketing, and analytics to stay aligned with your customers. Investment in Research and Development will continue to rise in the years to come. Make sure your investment in innovation and R&D is keeping up with your competitors.
One important trait of nimble businesses is robust market research. If you do not currently have significant investment in market research, make it happen. Nothing is more predictive of your product/services success than the reviews gleaned from your focus groups and what you extract daily/hourly from online marketing and social media.
4. Embracing Outsourcing
Outsourcing, especially cognitive process outsourcing, will continue to expand in 2020. Where can you leverage the benefits of outsourcing to strengthen your business’ core competencies?
Good businesses become great businesses by constantly enhancing what they do well. Outsourcing the non-core or high value functions to specialized organizations gives your business the opportunity to focus on what’s most important instead of trying to do it all. Outsourced customer service, technical support, accounting, payroll, and recruitment are examples of essential business tasks that others can provide for your organization at lower costs and with stronger outcomes.
On the digital side, AI-enhanced websites and contact centers can help your customers find the information and servicing they need without the need for a live customer service interaction. Cognitive outsourcing is an efficient option that satisfies the queries of customers who do not have the time to wait for a live person to research an issue and provide a response. These AI options will continue to improve service response for the foreseeable future. Are you investing in AI technologies currently? Assume that your competitors are already doing so.
5. The Twilight of Brick and Mortar
2019 saw the disintegration of numerous businesses that were over-invested in brick and mortar. The heyday of malls, shopping centers, and big box stores are behind us as consumers chose to make more purchases with the convenience of online shopping. Further, new efficiencies in shipping make the delivery of durable goods a satisfyingly fast experience.
Why is Walmart posting big expectations for the holiday season and the first quarter of 2020? Because they’ve learned from their competitors and are now heavily investing in their digital retail space. The mightiest of the brick and mortar businesses understand the future is digital sales and not big box retail. Are you over-invested in storefronts? If so, now is the time to beef-up your online presence and e-commerce offerings.
Be Informed in 2020 – Act on the Information
As long as capitalism is the key player in the economy, those who see the trend lines before everyone else will have a clear, competitive advantage. What do I see? A rapidly changing workplace, but the good news is you can take steps to remain competitive. Hire psychologists, invest in all things digital, embrace and invest in a unified workforce that acknowledges the unique value each generation brings to the table, double down on what you do best, and do whatever you must do to stay nimble. In 2020 and beyond, status quo is not an option.