As we are all finding our feet in the new year, it’s important to have a good understanding of the key business trends for 2024. Many of the predictions for the coming year revolve around a few important points. For example, we all need to be ready for the meteoric rise of generative AI and the growing importance of sustainability.
We have learnt important lessons from the economic strain of the last couple of years, driven by issues like hangover from the pandemic and the ongoing global conflicts. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 10 vital business trends for 2024.
1. Generative AI
If you aren’t aware of the monumental impact of generative AI in recent months, you would have to be living under a rock. To be an industry leader in the coming years, you need to create a compelling generative AI strategy today.
AI and machine learning have been a powerful presence in business for more than 10 years, but generative AI has the power to create, bringing intelligent automation capabilities to customers’ experiences and more.
Investment focus in 2023 has largely revolved around sustainability across many sectors, and that trend is showing no signs of slowing down. The driving factor behind this is consumer attitudes.
Consumers are more tuned in than ever before to the importance of living more sustainably. This pushes them to consider the environment in their buying choices, and they look for brands that show evidence of making an effort to be eco-friendlier and more sustainable. If you don’t do this, you are at a disadvantage against your competitors.
3. The Importance of the Human Touch
With more opportunities to automate technical processes like research, coding and data management, the presence of a human touch becomes more critical. Consumers are becoming more able to recognise the use of generative AI, and it is leading to a disconnect with companies that fail to offer a human touch as well.
The ability to leverage soft skills is becoming more crucial. In 2024, we will see organisations pursue the development of skills and attributes like:
- Emotional intelligence.
- High-level strategy.
- Thought leadership.
These things will help retain the all-important human touch that will engage customers and help them feel that they are valued and cared for.
4. Digital Transformation
Businesses of all sizes are becoming increasingly digital – a trend that accelerated through the pandemic. The technology available in 2024 can help navigate challenges to efficiency and customer experience, and you will fall further and further behind if you don’t adopt these technologies.
Budget is no longer a major barrier to digital transformation. There is affordable access to expertise and advanced software and platforms like ERP solutions and sophisticated AI solutions. Keep a finger on the pulse of digital trends and tap into the ones that could offer benefits to your business.
5. The Data Economy
Data is becoming more and more valuable. In 2024, companies will further streamline services and improve offerings by strategically tackling their data demands. This opens the door to a new opportunity – monetising the data they have.
There are several companies that are pioneering this, selling data acquired from their IoT and other solutions to provide key insights to other businesses that could help their productivity. Access to large-scale data is becoming increasingly democratised, so the trend of smaller companies in niche sectors selling data is likely to increase.
6. Customer Experience
The importance of customer experience is well-understood but, with people increasingly discerning about where they spend, this is becoming increasingly important. In 2024, the focus is on ensuring every single interaction with a business puts a smile on a customer’s face.
Personalisation is key to this, and it can be applied to marketing to deliver what customers need, when they need it. Other key factors are:
- Prompt delivery.
- Frictionless setup and installation.
- Efficient problem resolution.
Many companies are now appointing Chief Experience Officers to ensure all these principles are integrated carefully into business strategies to ensure a seamless customer experience.
7. Innovative Solutions
With so much global disruption, it has become essential to innovate to ensure fast shipping times. Drone delivery is still growing, and the role of AI in finding optimal solutions is increasing. Automated route organisation, intelligent utilisation of capacity and sophisticated forecasting for delivery times are all extremely powerful resources.
Small businesses may not be able to invest in such technologies. But an emphasis on innovation will enable the identification of opportunities when they do arise.
In an increasingly socially-conscious world, it‘s more important than ever to recognise that talent comes in all ages, shapes, sizes and colours. When unconscious prejudices based on gender, race, age and other factors seep into hiring and training practices, talent can be marginalised and company reputations can suffer.
There has long been an impetus to ensure diverse and inclusive workforces. But, in 2024, when we are relying more on machines to make decisions that impact human lives, it is even more crucial.
9. Remote and Distributed Working
Employees prioritise things like flexible working and a good work-life balance more now than they have in the past. There has been a theme of workers returning to the office in 2023, but the importance of remote and distributed working is not going anywhere.
Employers have an array of tools to offer the ability to work with geographically-dispersed teams. This means they can attract talent from all over the world, which is a tremendous opportunity to capitalise on. With this in mind, we will see many more job postings in 2024 that offer ‘remote’ or ‘hybrid’ opportunities.
10. Organisational Resilience
In an increasingly interconnected world, there are many threats that could be right around the corner for businesses. These include:
- Cyber attacks.
- Economic downturns.
- Environmental disasters.
- Global pandemics.
- Disruptive new market competitors.
In 2024, companies will look closely at instances of these things and learn lessons about how to be resilient in the event that they occur. We have seen companies thrive in turbulent times by adapting to changes and having robust strategies for unexpected changes in the world. Others will learn from observing this and aim to boost their resilience in 2024, particularly with impending elections in both the UK and USA.
It’s apparent that almost everything in today’s world is advancing at a greater pace than ever before. It’s important that businesses strive to keep up or they risk being left behind. Competition is fierce and the work needed to compete may seem daunting to smaller businesses however even the smallest steps in the right direction now could help facilitate success.