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Business trends for 2020

The top trends predicted for 2020 that will propel business into the future

2019 has been a tough year for businesses in general with a sluggish 3.9 % global GDP growth (IMF Data mapper) and a meagre 3.1% growth in South Africa (StatsSA).

In these tough times having a competitive edge is more important than ever. Looking into the future and seeing what opportunities and threats are on the horizon does not call for a visit to your local fortune teller however, but rather business strategists use an analytical process called ‘trend watching’.

Trend watching involves analysing the current trends and, using statistical formulas, projecting them forward to provide an indication of which trends will continue to gain momentum and which ones will fade. When done right, business trend awareness is a valuable skill that helps management to pinpoint the changes that need to be made to keep strategies and business practices up to date.

What changes can we expect in 2020?

Here are 7 trends businesses can expect to see in 2020.

  1. Businesses will pay more attention to their employee’s wellbeing and job satisfaction

The success of any business rests on the shoulders of its employees. Productivity levels are almost guaranteed to drop if employees are unhappy.  Companies will be looking for innovative ways to keep a high morale internally. A recent example of this was when Microsoft Japan tried a 4-day work week in August and experienced a 40% increase in productivity (CNN Business). Whether that means more spacious workplaces, relaxed dress codes, foosball tables or 4-day work weeks we can expect to see an increase in similar changes in 2020.

  1. AI will become the norm.

While AI has been an ongoing trend it is worth mentioning. With AI assistants quickly becoming a standard feature on digital devices, it is on an upwards trajectory and will inevitably be used more frequently in 2020. It will increase efficiency, improve productivity, and generally improve business performance. However, this does not mean replacing human roles and expertise completely as some would believe:

2020 will be the year where the industry realises that while AI can be a fantastic extension to enhancing human capabilities, it cannot work independently or replace human roles within facility management. Instead, skilled engineers will be more in demand to ensure AI can effectively be incorporated into any data centre facilities to drive higher value for end customers.”Intelligent CIO

Read more: AI: Should we be worried? 

  1. 24-hour customer service using AI chatbots

With the internet at their fingertips, consumers want their queries and requests answered at lightning speed. Another consideration is that with global markets becoming the standard, your customer could easily be in a different time zone and have different business hours to you. Previously, this meant that call centre agents either had to be available at all times, or the customer needed to call during business hours. Now, with AI and Chatbots becoming more advanced, 2020 might just see customer queries answered at any time of the day. Don’t think that human interaction will be a thing of the past, though.

Not everyone likes speaking to a robot and the technology is currently not sufficiently developed to handle all queries, so for now customer service agents are safe. If you would like to learn more about customer service, IMM can help. Register for our online short course and learn how to successfully connect with your customers. 

  1. Home offices will become more prevalent

If you hate your commute to and from work, join the club. But we can expect to see a reduction in people commuting for hours every day in 2020. Many businesses believe that employees are more productive in a work environment, but a Stanford study suggests otherwise. They found that employees who work from home produce more work, are not restricted by being on the clock and as a result produce higher amounts of work that are higher quality.  It has the added advantage for the employer of reduced overheads for office space etc, and staff take less time off if they can work around their personal schedules. With the advance of online technologies and high-speed internet connections, working from home is increasingly becoming an option for many employees

  1. No more meeting rooms.

Its been estimated that in 2020 just less than 60% of the workforce will comprise of Millennials and Gen Z workers.

Business trends for 2020 b

These generations have grown up with technology and consider conversing electronically as natural and possibly even preferable to face-to-face conversations. This combined with the increase in employees working from home means that more meetings (even in house) will be held in virtual meeting rooms using conferencing software and apps like Skype, Hangouts and Facetime

  1. Personalised products and services.

Consumers have become so used to generic ads, that they don’t even notice them anymore. This makes traditional advertising less effective than before. To fix this problem, businesses will need to customise each customer’s shopping experience according to their explicit specifications. Pulling this off will mean that customer satisfaction and loyalty will skyrocket.

  1. 5G will finally become a reality.

We’ve all heard about the wonders of 5G but we’re still waiting for evidence that this network even exists. Don’t worry, we don’t have to wait much longer. The world can expect download speeds of around 1 Gbps once 5G networks go public, so get ready for a next-level web experience!

  1. You need to continuously upskill and changing careers becomes a norm

Whichever trends take off one thing is certain, business as we know it will change and at an ever-increasing rate. You can no longer rely on your experience or outdated education. To remain relevant, you will need to continuously upskill and bring your knowledge in line with the latest industry practices. You may even need to change career when yours becomes obsolete.

Whether it’s the latest in Digital Marketing, the most recent approaches to Supply Chain Management or the cutting edge of Business Management the IMM graduate School has a host of programmes and online short courses to keep you up to date and in demand. Start your career, or if you’re already working, boost your career with an internationally recognised qualification from the IMM Graduate School. If you already have a qualification, top up with skills from our ever growing online short course offering. Applications for 2020 are now open! Visit https://imm.ac.za to find out about our many programmes and https://imm.ac.za/apply-online/ to apply online.