The start of each new year brings with it an array of unknowns. In 2024, this is perhaps more than most.
Of course, we’d never suggest becoming a slave to trends. But it does pay to keep half an eye on them, to see if there’s anything that might be a fit for you.
It’s with that in mind that today’s article focuses on our predictions for some of the business trends that will make a real impact as we head into another year.
Trend 1: Artificial Intelligence
In 2023, it felt like you couldn’t go 5 minutes without somebody talking about how AI was going to save or destroy the world. There’s no doubt that its rise to the top of the agenda has been rapid – and it’s already seen some job cuts.
But, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic – after all, artificial intelligence has been a game changer in terms of skyrocketing productivity. The fact that so many of these tools are free to use has made them accessible to businesses with smaller budgets, letting them experiment with images, video and content strategies in a sandbox-like environment.
While it will continue to fill this role in 2024, there’s a gulf between peoples’ use of AI, and their knowledge of it. According to 2023 research, over a third of UK workers were already using, or planning to use, generative AI in their jobs. However, most of them – 62% – said they lacked skills to use it accurately and safely. Be prepared to see companies of all sizes bringing in specific policies on the use and misuse of AI in business.
Trend 2: The Human Touch
Okay, so this one has always been important, but stick with us. Artificial intelligence can do a whole lot, but there’s still a place for the human touch in modern business.
2024 will see an increased acknowledgment of that, with companies investing time and money to train employees in critical ‘soft skills’, like communication, emotional intelligence and strategy to name a few. In 2024, as in previous years, paying attention to things that genuinely impact a customer’s experience will be what separates great companies from those that are just okay.
It’s important to note that this shift isn’t just in response to AI. It also signals a broader move away from focusing on qualifications or age in the hiring process, opening up the talent pool to a wider range of people.
Trend 3: Sustainability (And Sustained Profit)
In the last five years, consumers have grown more aware of the environmental impact of their actions and purchases. This extends to the companies they buy from – a KPMG survey found that over half of consumers (54%) would stop buying from a company if they were found to have been misleading in their sustainability claims.
On the other hand, there have been surprising examples of large companies who have actually seen an upturn in financial fortunes after making aspects of their process more green. For example, US retail giant Walmart reduced its spending on fuel and vehicle maintenance by transitioning to an EV delivery fleet.
This will continue to be at the forefront of consumer purchasing decisions in 2024 – and as such, it’s something companies should continue to be aware of too, taking advantage of opportunities to be eco-friendly in impactful ways when they see them.
Trend 4: Bridging the Skills Gap
For years, we’ve been hearing about how certain sectors are facing a skills shortage. This is particularly worrying in manufacturing, where 36% of vacancies are proving hard to fill as applicants lack the appropriate skills, qualifications or experience. Far from wiping out job prospects into 2024, 6 in 10 (59%) manufacturers cited automation as a trend that is changing jobs and skills needs for their business.
To keep up with the pace of this change, leaders in this industry and others will find themselves focusing on upskilling the workers they currently have. Linking back to the first trend in this article, artificial intelligence will be one of the disruptive technologies employers focus their upskilling efforts on, alongside the skills to thrive in an economy where AI literacy is becoming more and more crucial.
All of the things outlined above represent long-term, maintained shifts in industry practices that will continue into 2024, and probably beyond. Having an awareness of how you can utilize them to make experiences better for your company, your employees, and your customers will help you stand out from the crowd.
Looking to launch your business into 2024?
Contact PKF Smith Cooper Systems today to learn more about our Sage software solutions.
Call us on 01332 959008 or use the enquiry form.
Interested to know more about our Sage solutions?
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