Admit it: Your business is tired.
Despite constant innovation and the growing ability of technology to automate, transform and optimize, you know there’s more to be done.
The solution is in the fundamentals, and that’s where businesses need to refocus their energy. Stripping things down to the basics presents a massive opportunity to step back, realize unprecedented value and innovate from the inside out. Companies who recognize this early will be best suited to pursue maximum value in the new year and new decade.
To help your business get started, the Fjords Trends 2020 report highlights seven emerging trends in business – from trackable bodies, to the future of artificial intelligence (AI), and the search for greater meaning in life.
1. Many faces of growth
Businesses need to adopt a “new year, new me” mindset when defining success, moving away from the long-established benchmark of financial growth. Though profit is essential for longevity, employees, clients and stakeholders alike are craving more meaningful metrics – ones that will enhance their lives and society at large.
Last summer, Business Roundtable, an influential association of nearly 200 prominent CEO’s in North America, boldly embraced changing societal views. Its new statement of corporate purpose champions providing “value for customers,” “investing in employees” and fostering “diversity and inclusion” before shareholders even get a mention.
2. Money changers
In our increasingly cashless world, the way we experience money is changing, including our vision of what “money” is and how we make payments. While people grapple with these once basic concepts, non-traditional financial companies are pioneering revolutionary new ecosystems. Seamless, almost-invisible payment systems also continue to muddy the waters.
With the help of their built-in biometric capabilities, smartphones and digital watches can already learn to identify their users for authentication with minimal effort. Next, we’ll see a significant rise in the use of “biometric mobile wallets” – payment by fingerprints, facial or retina recognition.
Today’s young people may even become the first to ditch the leather wallet entirely, in favour of a digital wallet that can think for them – for example, the Apple Card. The card’s software connects to an iPhone user’s Wallet app and can pop up as a default option whenever they use Apple Pay. It eliminates fees, helps users make wiser financial decisions and embeds customers deeper into the seamless Apple brand.
The unfounded potential for new products and services, and the ability to do more than just buy things, should excite everyone.
3. Walking barcodes
Set against the backdrop of ongoing breakthroughs in 5G, businesses are beginning to unlock new potential from machine reading. Our faces and bodies are becoming our signature, now as trackable as our digital footprint. The result: New opportunities for targeted advertising, memorable experiences and invisible data exchanges that offer people tangible value – as long as they balance the fine line between privacy and personalization.
In 2019, Disney piloted an interactive movie poster in partnership with Accenture Interactive for the release of Dumbo. The AI-powered experience used photography, facial recognition and emotion recognition to display a version of the poster that corresponded with the feelings felt by the person looking at it.
4. Liquid people
As businesses revisit their objectives, humans too are reconsidering their view of themselves and their behaviour – specifically, the way they consume. Conscious, guilt free lifestyles are becoming the new norm, with renewed focus on factors like climate change, sustainability and mental health. Did you know that 95 percent of consumers from plant-based food business Impossible Foods are actually meat-eaters?
Organizations need to respond by providing new ways of consuming that make people feel good about their actions, while keeping an eye on changing desires reflective of the current political and social climate.
People are perceiving and defining their identity and worth in ever more liquid ways, including gender fluidity. Last September, Mattel challenged the stereotype and launched the world’s first gender-neutral doll. The Creatable World doll collection is completely inclusive and customizable, from clothing options, to hair style and colour, to gender identity.
5. Designing intelligence
What we know about AI is already yesterday’s news. Now that companies have adopted smart automation, the next stage is about designing systems that blend AI with human intelligence, simplify the complex and enhance our people’s experience.
For brands in the fashion industry, buying into the right trends is make or break for business. Levi’s, Madewell and Allbirds are just three of the many retailers leveraging the human-and-machine intelligence of MakerSights. The engine combines the customer voice, internal perspectives and historical selling data to determine which styles will be winners and losers – invaluable insight for any brand.
6. Digital doubles
Our digital twins are evolving and the race has begun to create virtual manifestations of ourselves that also act as gatekeepers for our data. Organizations in financial services and healthcare need to make room for digital doubles and learn not only how to design for them, but ideally how to create them.
For example, startup DNABlock aims to democratize real-time 3D character creation and design interactive human beings for all. Avatars are made from high-resolution 3D scans and people can even put their avatars to work, licensed out by the agency. An avatar made on site at a conference recently acted as a real-time award show host.
7. Life-centered design
Design trends are mobilizing the movement from a “me” to “we” society. We’re seeing the focus of design move from a user-centered to a life-centered approach, with people treated as moving parts in an ecosystem rather than the center of everything. Businesses need to design for the personal and the collective to maximize value and bring people together.
A great example of this is the Toronto-made Think Dirty app, which educates consumers on the potentially toxic ingredients in their cosmetic and personal care products. It empowers consumers to make responsible purchasing decisions and vocalize their concerns to beauty companies, aligned with the life-centered principle of designing with the planet in mind.
How to proceed with purpose
While these seven trends should lead business leaders in their 2020 transformations, it’s also about building the foundation to evolve with whatever comes next.
Once your C-suite is aligned on your vision for the year ahead, seize the opportunity to ride the wave, but also strive to get ahead. That’s where the real value is.
About the author
Scott Weisbrod is a Managing Director at Accenture Interactive where he is the lead for Fjord in Canada, an innovation and design consultancy. At Fjord, Scott is dedicated to creating new growth and relevance for Canada’s leading organizations by blending a combination of strategy and high-value consulting with service and product design.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. As a result, the Chamber cannot be held responsible for published content.