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Feature

The Biggest Business Trends for 2024

It is time once again to look into the crystal ball and predict the direction that business and industry will take in the coming year

With the general global economic downturn predicted to get worse before it gets better, companies are likely to remain cautious when it comes to spending and investing in radical new ideas in 2024. However, there are a number of technological and societal trends that are simply too big to ignore or put off until better days. These are the areas where we can expect to see continued innovation and investment, and I’ll highlight the most prominent in this article.

As has been the case for the past few years, there’s some overlap between these and anyother predictions, which focus primarily on technology. Simply put, this is because business trends today are largely driven by technology. However, as we develop a better understanding of a technology – artificial intelligence (AI) being the obvious example – we also understand what it isn’t. In 2024, this will lead to new perspectives on what makes us human.

GENERATIVE AI EVERYWHERE

The Boston Consulting Group asserts that “to be an industry leader in five years, you need a clear and compelling generative AI strategy today.” AI and machine learning have been making waves for more than a decade, and are thoroughly integrated into many of the products and services we buy from major companies.

Now, generative AI puts the power to create and intelligently automate the customer experience – as well as internal operations – in the hands of nearly every organization.

SOFT SKILLS AND THE HUMAN TOUCH

As it becomes increasingly feasible to automate technical aspects of work – coding, research, or data management, for example – the ability to leverage soft skills for tasks that still require a human touch becomes critical. For this reason, in 2024, we will see organizations increasing their investment in developing and nurturing skills and attributes such as emotional intelligence, communication, interpersonal problem solving, high-level strategy, and thought leadership.

THE SKILLS SOLUTION

We’ve been hearing about the skills shortage for several years now. Changes in hiring practices that emphasize selecting candidates with the specific experiences and skills needed for a role, rather than qualities such as educational attainment or age, are a part of the industry’s response and will continue to be a strong trend.

SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS

One driver is clearly customer demand, as research continues to show that consumers increasingly prefer companies with a solid commitment to reducing their environmental footprint. On the other hand, as the green economy grows, we’re learning that green solutions often lead to bottom-line growth.

THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE REVOLUTION

Imagine a line on a graph that rates your customers’ sentiment at every touchpoint where they interact with your company, goods, or services. This illustrates the concept of customer experience. While traditionally a company might build a business model around supe rior quality or value, in 2024 the impetus is to ensure that every single interaction and experience makes the customer smile. This means personalized marketing that delivers what they need at the right time, on-time delivery, frictionless setup and installation, and efficient problem resolution.

REMOTE AND DISTRIBUTED WORK

It’s no longer about companies surviving the pandemic, it’s about offering flexible arrangements, valuing employees’ time and harnessing the potential of a global workforce. Yes, workers returning to the office has been a theme of the past 12 months. But employers are also ensuring that they retain the ability to work with geographically dispersed teams and attract talent from anywhere in the world. For these reasons, we’ll see the number of job postings with “remote” or “hybrid” locations remain well above pre-Covid levels throughout 2024.

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIVITY

Talent comes in all ages, shapes, sizes and colors. Unconscious racist, sexist or ageist bias can easily seep into systems around hiring, training, performance management or development, resulting in talent being marginalized, mismanaged or overlooked. There has always been a business case for ensuring diverse and inclusive workforces, but in the age of AI, as we increasingly rely on machines to make decisions that impact humans, it’s more important than ever.