Research and advisory firm identifies key trends that will change business forever over the next decade
It’s easy to blame all the elements of the ‘new normal’ on the pandemic, but many trends were already underway before we entered the world of lockdowns and masks.
The business landscape is in transformation, driven by converging developments in technology and a desire for flexible working and more enlightened workplace culture.
A new report from Forrester identifies several trends for the next decade that it believes will change business forever. Smart investors will spot opportunities to jump on these trends ahead of their peak while financial services firms can embrace the direction of travel to get ahead of competitors.
Safety is king
Unsurprisingly, the top trend is safety. COVID-19 has changed the focus of health and safety and consumers are more aware than ever of what they require of businesses in this regard.
In the short-term, digital wins. Consumers have become used to doing it online and some will decide this is their preference.
But medium term, the report suggests a lack of in-person contact with brands will cause a disconnect between consumers and those brands’ purpose and values. The trusted brands that can connect consumers to a greater cause can thrive.
Long term, brands that enable greater consumer control over purchases will dominate.
The way that brands and consumers interact via increasingly-digital platforms will require better design.
The report says that consumers will want experiences that blend emotions and insights with a focus on outcomes, not products, in the medium term.
Data will be an even more critical differentiator for several sectors, including financial services and retail. Those brands that can persuade consumers to give more personal data – and therefore insights – will gain.
Working from home
The pandemic has accelerated it, but the desire from employees to work from home, together with the potential savings for employers, will continue to drive flexible working.
Some businesses may decide that entire workforces can be home based.
Global economic hubs will benefit as firms reduce office space and the repurposing of this redundant space will create opportunities as well as challenges for building owners and developers.
Tech will play an increasingly part in our lives and businesses. Firms will invest more to ensure that they have the right technology that will provide robust solutions, greater flexibility, and new business models.
Resilience will be a competitive advantage and in the short-term this will mean a focus on crisis management and business continuity testing.
Longer term, corporate social responsibility and ESG will be even more important and will become part of the supply chain agenda and strategy.
Risk management will become a key area of business investment to enable better real-time assessment of risk.
"The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we do business," said Stephanie Balaouras, VP and Group Director at Forrester. "It has forced firms and policymakers to do things that were previously considered impossible. As a result, business leaders are quickly embracing new, iterative ways to engage with customers, adapting to new ways of working, investing in technology innovation, and revisiting their business resiliency plans for long-term success."
The full report "The New, Unstable Normal: How COVID-19 Will Change Business and Technology Forever” is available at forrester.com.