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Top 5 Business Trends for 2024

Blog: Jim Sinur

Adapting to Dynamic Business Conditions

The first trend is around businesses staying dynamically adaptive to change. Organizations must go beyond scenario planning exercises that sit on the shelf. While the planning exercises are proactive and sound, they also allow businesses to develop strategies for the various likely and unlikely scenarios. Savvy organizations will test the most likely scenarios, making an organization better prepared to adapt when change occurs. This means organizations must cultivate a culture of innovation that builds on leveraging agile methodologies and employee training/development. Cross-functional teams with individuals who embrace technologies by staying abreast of technological advancements will often develop solutions that support executive goals within alternative scenarios. Strategic partners will also help craft solutional alternatives, including backup partnerships. Remember that organizations are moving to real-time data/event-driven decisions that will adjust processes and applications. Careful planning will help legacy platforms and packages remain in a changing business environment. Managing change is essential in a world that is speeding up to new rates of change. This is not a “one-and-done” exercise, as adaptability is an ongoing process that needs regular reassessment.

Augmenting Your Customers

While most organizations think they are creating and refining user-friendly interfaces, the reality from the customer side is another thing. Customers find most interfaces are designed from the inside out, leveraging existing software and support teams. While multi-channel engagement and responsive customer service go a long way to helping the customer reach your organization’s goals, the reality is that the customer journey is rarely just about your transactional efficiency when working with them. Think about how organizations had outsourced the keystrokes to the customer and the dumb chatbots they must deal with daily. To add insult to injury, the surveys are designed to get managers their rewards, not the customers’ perspective. It’s time to think “outside-in” from the customer’s goals through the interaction with your organization and its legacy systems. This will give organizations new insights to personalize the experience, including smarter chatbots that recognize feedback in voice or visual cues to include sentiment, both positive and negative responses, in real-time with transparency. Let’s assist our customers in their journeys, not just optimize costs for organizational goals based only on transactions your organization controls. Let’s shift from reactive cost containment to proactive customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Augmenting Your Employees and Partners

Often, employees become the shock absorbers between your organization and other constituents. This means that they deal with the lack of integration across internal stovepipes that live with conflicting internal and external goals. What employees want is better job satisfaction, recognition/rewards, flexible work arrangements, and mostly career growth opportunities. They are driven by the need to keep up with ever-rising costs in their life situations. While some of these needs can be managed with a change in management tactics, employees need help. They need a better collaborative work environment with effective communication that helps them develop and learn to augment their career growth. Why not remove their “dirty work” with automation and let them become more knowledgeable workers through AI augmentation and reward-driven employee empowerment? Giving employees more autonomy and decision-making authority within their roles or across stovepipes with collaboration with others and AI bots is desirable. The best suggestions for continuous improvement will come from happy employees. All organizations need the table stakes of wellness programs, diversity, and workplace perks, but augmentation for advancement will be a key theme as we advance.

Managing Elusive and Shifting Costs

While the traditional methods of cost analysis, budgeting, expense monitoring, and control will still deliver savings for organizations, there are additional issues to consider. Negotiating with suppliers and partners to seek better deals, discounts, and more favorable payment terms is a great place to find incremental savings. Some big numbers in process optimization employ cost-reduction technologies that are now smarter than those of previous generations. Process mining and AI monitoring are good places to find nuggets of opportunity. Organizations may have to invest in technologies that streamline processes, automate repetitive tasks, and improve efficiency. It can lead to long-term cost savings and increased productivity. Cross-training and workforce optimization can help leverage existing employees or bots to handle various types of tasks and responsibilities. It creates excellent leverage and flexibility when experiencing peaks that typically require hiring additional staff. Telecommuting and remote work is a great cost-cutting trend for office costs. Ensure cost cutting is not arbitrary to meet numbers only to hurt long-term trends. Often, overzealous cost-cutting on minutia sometimes backfires with unexpected behaviors.

Providing Secure Digital Commerce

Ensuring secure digital commerce is crucial to protecting your business and customers from potential security threats. While customer education on best security practices, adherence to payment standards, and continuous fraud detection in real-time to mitigate suspicious activity leveraging machine learning are table stakes, there are additional efforts to take for organizations. Two-factor authentication is a must for user accounts. It adds a layer of security by requiring users to verify their identity. Regular backups of critical data combined with comprehensive data plans are essential in the event of a security incident. Encryption of all stored data protects data in case of a breach. Organizations are encouraged to choose secure hosting providers and cloud services that prioritize data security. Hosting environments should have robust security measures, including firewalls, intrusion, and detections. All your infrastructure and business software needs to be updated by patching and updating your systems. Regular software updates can close vulnerabilities and protect against known security threats. Above all, conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments of your e-commerce platform. Identify and address potential weaknesses in your systems to stay ahead of emerging threats. Remember that this is a war with bad actors.

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