2020 Predictions – Human Potential

Most annual predictions are either too aggressive in how quickly they anticipate companies can adopt new practices, or they rehash the same things that have been said for the past few years…Internet of Things, Big Data…you get the idea. That doesn’t mean they are not worth a read, and the recent 2020 predictions from Forrester caught our attention as they highlighted how they were wrong with last year’s predictions and how they view 2020 as the year of energy, primarily around potential for corporations.

In looking back at last year’s predictions, Forrester noted that their idea of strategic vision converting to pragmatism didn’t manifest, “Too many companies were saddled with technical and data debt, hampered by existing organizational silos, required to allocate more resources to the core tech stack, trying to understand a volatile competitive landscape, and struggling with the execution of customer obsession.” Instead, executives were forced to reassess their strategic, operational, and technical position. 

As the view of the economic climate is becoming less optimistic, and change continues to accelerate, corporate leaders are getting anxious. The energy inside companies is palpable, yet the potential for growth is far from certain. 2020 predictions, “will move leaders’ attention to adaptability: the ability to understand and anticipate market dynamics — and adapt and rapidly exploit opportunities, both big and small.” In the first of two posts on the predictions, we’re going to look at the human aspect. In the second piece we’ll focus on the technology aspect.

One trend that has been around for awhile but Forrester sees as now being mainstream is consumers aligning their purchases with their values. More than half of all consumers state this is something they consider when purchasing from a company. If companies haven’t embraced this yet, they may start to see sales decline. And those that only pay lip service to it, will also suffer as consumers won’t hesitate to use social media to call them out.

This trend highlights the idea of the Customer Experience (CX). The ‘brand’ is now shared with consumers, and Chief Marketing Officers must embrace this. “Smart CMOs will begin pulling back on strategies that drive short-term gains at the expense of customer affinity…They’ll recognize that the best mechanism to drive growth is a strategically planned ecosystem that delivers value to customers throughout their lifecycle.”

The predictions also discuss how CX will bifurcate. Companies that embrace it will continue to improve the relatively new role by developing innovative ways of authentically connecting with their consumers. While those that cut-bait on their CX programs or focus on short-term initiatives at the expense of the customer experience, “could yield unintended, detrimental consequences.”

Another prediction is the rise of automation in the workforce and the displacement of jobs. History has shown us that technology creates more jobs than it displaces, but those jobs tend to be higher-level roles that require, “intuition, empathy, and physical and mental agility.” For many companies, this provides an opportunity to retrain their existing workforce in an effort to up-level their skills.

Companies like WeWork, Peloton, and Uber, all looking to IPO last year have created an increased level of scrutiny for venture capitalists (VCs). The predictions notes that the bottom is not falling out of the investment market, rather that VCs are more discriminating and looking for that old fashioned idea of profitability. “VC money will flow toward startups with pragmatic business plans and clearer paths to profitability. These companies are poised to become the new unicorns.”

The final prediction we’re looking at today is a bridge to part two, technology. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are going to become far more people focused in 2020. To demonstrate their business leadership capabilities, CIOs will go beyond automating tasks that can save money and improve efficiency and look to help the company as a whole with employee training and engagement with new technologies. Additionally, their own staff will be up-leveling their skills to adopt DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering practices.

If you have questions on how 2020 predictions may affect your company or you’ve been thinking about how to up-level your leadership team, send us a note.