Get ready now
The huge challenges and incredible change businesses had to face over the past few years, will not slow down in 2023. Businesses will have to deal with the aftereffects of the global pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, economic challenges, and ever-changing technologies. It is crucial for professional freelancers to understand the five biggest trends expected this year. These will have the greatest day-to-day impact on the way we work and do business in 2023.
- Accelerated digital transformation
In 2023, we will see the continuation of innovations and developments in transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), cloud computing, blockchain, and super-fast network protocols like 5G. These transformational digital technologies do not exist in isolation – we will see the boundaries between them blurring. New solutions for augmented working, hybrid and remote working, business decision-making, and automation of manual, routine, and creative workloads combine these technologies in ways that enable them to enhance each other. This will enable us to create “intelligent enterprises” where systems and processes support each other to complete menial and mundane tasks in the most efficient way possible. To prepare for this, we must enhance our understanding and embed the right technologies in our operations.
- Inflation and supply chain security
The economic outlook for most of the world doesn’t look great in 2023. According to experts we can expect ongoing inflation and subdued economic growth. Many industries are still plagued by supply chain issues that emerged during the global Covid-19 shutdowns and only got worse due to the Ukraine war. To combat this and stay afloat, companies need to improve their resilience. This means reducing exposure to volatile markets and building protective measures into supply chains to deal with shortages and rising logistical costs.
It is important that companies map out their entire supply chains and identify any exposure to supply and inflation risks. That way, they can explore ways to mitigate that risk, such as alternative suppliers and becoming more self-reliant. A number of companies decided to in-source parts of their manufacturing after they identified a risk of relying on Chinese manufacturing that is still plagued by a zero-Covid policy and subsequent shutdowns.
The world is increasingly waking up to the fact that the climate disaster will pose a much bigger challenge than anything we have experienced in recent decades and will dwarf the challenges faced by the Covid pandemic. That means investors and consumers prefer businesses with the right environmental and social credentials. Buying trends are increasingly being driven by conscious consumers – people who prioritise factors such as ecological impact and sustainability when choosing who to buy from or do business with.
Companies need to make sure that their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) processes are moved to the centre of their strategy. This should start with measuring the impact any business is having on society and the environment and then move to increasing transparency, reporting, and accountability. Every business needs a plan with clear goals and timeframes to reduce negative impacts, underpinned by solid action plans. These plans should also go beyond the company walls and cover the entire supply chain and the ESG credentials of suppliers.
- Immersive customer experience
Customers crave experience above all else. That doesn’t necessarily mean that price and quality take a back seat. Both play a part, to some extent, in the way we experience the process of choosing, purchasing, and enjoying the goods and services we spend our money on.
The role that technology plays here, traditionally, has been to streamline processes and remove hassle from the life of the consumer. An example is online customer service portals that deal with problems and after-sales support. These will still play a key role in 2023, but the game has evolved, with this year’s keywords being “immersion” and “interactivity.”
The metaverse (the next level of the internet) – where we interact with brands and fellow consumers through immersive technology, 3D environments and VR – is the stage where this will play out. Think of online shops where we can browse and “try on” virtual representations of clothes, jewellery, and accessories. We might use virtual dressing rooms to dress up avatars of ourselves – as pioneered already by the likes of Hugo Boss – or it could involve AR, as used by Walmart, to see how clothes will fit on our actual bodies. These trends will impact both online and offline retail.
The trend towards experience is so strong that brands like Adobe and Adweek are appointing chief experience officers (CXO) to ensure that it is made a foundational element of business strategy. As well as customer experience, businesses increasingly need to think about employee experience as competition for the most talented and skilled workers grows more intense.
- The talent challenge
Over the past year, we have seen huge movements of talented people, referred to as the great resignation and quiet quitting, as workers reassessed the impact of work and what they want to get out of their lives. This has put pressure on employers to ensure they are providing attractive careers, the flexibility of hybrid work, and an enticing work environment and company culture. Offering people fulfilling work, ongoing opportunities to grow and learn, flexibility and diverse, value-oriented workplaces will all be essential in 2023.
On top of that, the accelerated digital transformation trend will lead to more workplace automation that will enhance almost every job in the world. Humans will increasingly share their work with intelligent machines and smart robots. This will have huge implications for the skills and talent companies require in the future. It will mean reskilling and up-skilling people as well as recruiting new people that have the skills needed for the future. In 2023, apart from technology, new skills will include creativity, critical thinking, interpersonal communication, leadership, and applying “humane” qualities like caring and compassion.