There’s something about ending a year that gives us a sense of renewal, the chance to reset the clock and start afresh. And, one way of doing that is to assess what lies ahead and align individual goals to the overall sentiment of global markets.
Predictions give us a sense of control, help us evaluate our risk tolerance levels and – in a way – prepare us for changing conditions.
From the perspective of an SME owner, each month and sometimes even each week brings its new set of issues and challenges. So, the start of the New Year is perhaps the only time you get to control the chaos and enjoy some level of certainty. Using this time to get a grasp of trends and ensuring that your business is making informed decisions based on reliable expert analysis instead of last-minute survival strategies will pay off in the long-run.
To help you with this, we’ve put together this 2020 top trends list - enjoy the team’s outlook here.
1. Startups and small businesses will gain global appeal: Whether it was Uber’s acquisition of Careem on the local front or the evolution of startups such as BYJUs and OYO on the international front, headlines were dominated by entrepreneurial wins and losses.
An increasing number of startups gained international spotlight for their ability to surpass previously set benchmarks in areas such as innovation, funding, social impact and more. 2019 was the year of small businesses as they proved their strength across various sectors. In 2020, we will continue to see startups gain global appeal – particularly those that focus on building their competitive advantages in niche markets.
2. Bitcoin mania to continue: It seems like no business outlook conversation is complete without talking about the meteoric rise of bitcoin. Remember when it was just a new buzzword that no one took seriously? Let’s put it into perspective. On January 2017, bitcoin was trading at US$ 908. Today, it stands at about US$ 7400. The cryptocurrency has sparked a big debate: is it just speculative trading or are bitcoins paving the way to the future of finance? Well, no matter which camp you choose to side with, one thing is for sure – you can’t ignore bitcoin.
3. 2020 is the year of retail evolution: 2019 continued to be a testing year for retail as stores competed in the race to strengthen their online presence and gain market share. 2020 is poised to bring a new wave of physical stores that are futuristic, personalised and more efficient. Customers will enjoy a whole new shopping experience. Shopping centres will also improve their offering by providing community-based activities; they will no longer be just places to shop. Retailers will also shift their focus to experiential retail which is more appealing to millennials.
4. Upskilling will be critical: Over the last decade, we have heard repeatedly that technology like artificial intelligence will not replace jobs, but rather augment the human workforce and give them capabilities to get things done faster than ever before. But, the challenge for companies is to prepare their teams for such shifts and equip them with the right tools to perform new tasks. How can they ensure that they are adapting latest technologies, while their staff isn’t left behind? The answer is simple: Upskilling. This has been a word that gained significant traction in 2019 and seems to be the golden mantra going into 2020.
5. All eyes will be on the global 5G implementation: Speaking of some of the challenges businesses should prepare themselves for, Renaud Deraison, Co-founder and CTO, Tenable, says in an article on CRN.in: “Moving into 2020, 5G networks will continue to be rolled out in cities across the globe, with devices designed to take advantage of this technology. This will create more disruption to the enterprise which will have even more difficulty identifying what devices are out there listening to and observing employees via a rogue 5G security camera or smart speaker.
With 5G networks will come the advent of 5G-only IoT and IoT devices, which do not require connecting to the local network to operate. This will diminish the risk of an IoT device used as an attack vector against the rest of the network. But it will create more disruption for enterprises that already struggle to determine which equipment they have in their digital infrastructure. When their elevators, HVAC, CCTVs and smart speakers start connecting directly to the cloud via 5G, it won’t get any easier.”
6. Investment in e-commerce will continue to grow: As e-commerce continues to revolutionize the expectations of consumers, it has become increasingly important for businesses to adapt quickly to meet the needs of their buyers. A UPS expert points out: “In our hyper-connected modern world, e-commerce has revolutionized the way we shop. In 2020, global e-commerce retail sales are expected to reach more than $4 trillion, which amounts to around 14.6 percent of total retail spending, and opportunities continue to increase. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce and B2B e-commerce are growing at a rapid rate, while B2C e-commerce solutions are becoming ever more innovative.”
7. Climate change will be the biggest debate: 2019 was a defining year for climate change and 2020 will see macro-level changes being implemented across the world. Making a very strong statement on the current state of our climate, Fred Pearce sheds light on the seriousness of the situation in his research article: “Some of the most alarming science surrounding climate change is the discovery that it may not happen incrementally — as a steadily rising line on a graph — but in a series of lurches as various “tipping points” are passed. And now comes a new concern: These tipping points can form a cascade, with each one triggering others, creating an irreversible shift to a hotter world. A new study suggests that changes to ocean circulation could be the driver of such a cascade.”
8. We will enter the decisive decade: Aron Cramer of BSR explains his theory of the ‘decisive decade’ in an online article for UPS: “The next 10 years will be decisive for business — and for all of us. We will either deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or we won’t. We will peak emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, or we won’t. Business will regain public trust, or it won’t. We will reestablish social mobility and reduce income inequality, or we won’t. Here is what we know for certain: The diverse and powerful assets of business are essential if we are to build a resilient, fair and sustainable economy.
It is impossible to imagine achieving the promise of the decade ahead without business. And it is equally impossible to imagine that outcome with business as usual. This is a time when the scale of change and challenge requires big vision, high levels of ambition and a strong sense of urgency. The inescapable implication of this is that sustainable business as we have known it is not enough.
So, standalone sustainability projects will have their place, but incremental improvements won’t deliver the SDGs. The fundamental changes reshaping our energy systems, our food supply and water availability demand comprehensive systemic solutions. Sustainability disconnected from investors, policymakers and communities will have no credibility.
Measurement and reporting that fails to embrace all forms of value misleads markets and leads to bad outcomes. And, in an era of profound change, risk-averse leadership only creates more risk. The new climate for business demands a radically new approach to business and markets. As we enter the 2020s, businesses will be judged by their purpose, their ambition, their urgency, their openness and their innovation. The only businesses that will thrive in the decade to come, and quite possibly the only businesses that will survive for the long run, are the ones who will master these challenges.”
Finally, our parting words of wisdom: keep one eye on the global business landscape and the various trends affecting them, and your business should stand the test of time.
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