Predicting anything in a time of economic disruption is ambitious, but understanding macro trends can help propel a company’s authority and, ultimately, its growth.
Investing in crypto-currency may be riskier than it’s worth.
Increased intensity in the race for renewable energy may look nuclear.
More development in telehealth will see the sector embrace flexibility and give people ultimate convenience.
Tiktok will have a serendipitous death, depending on who you ask.
After two years of unpredictable change, the business world is learning to adapt faster than ever.
And while transformation has always been part and parcel of business development, it’s become a huge deciding factor in who succeeds. In that sense, foresight becomes an invaluable tool for company growth. For senior business leaders, maintaining a finger on the pulse and being aware of what’s happing in the macro environment can help build, adapt and grow a business strategy.
To explore future trends in more depth, we brought together some of the best minds in the world of business to participate in our annual client dinner. From consulting powerhouses to impressive CEOs, our network offers a vast range of sector knowledge and expertise, producing a unique spectrum of predictions.
While ideas spanned from political ideations to sporting victories, we’ve narrowed down those predictions to the most intriguing. Find out what they thought below.
1. Flexible working: The death of the office, or not quite.
The future of flexible working has generated intense intrigue over the last few months, with companies around the world querying what best suits their organisational structure. And this topic of conversation certainly stirred up a few responses from our network.
An operating partner at a Global PE firm mentions, ‘companies will need to go hybrid and adapt quickly’, continuing with the idea that companies who manage this very well and implement agile practices will out-perform those who don’t.
Others believed the issue was more contentious and felt that companies would take one of three roads, full-time office work, flexible, and full-time remote. However, we’ve seen some resistance from candidates for full-time office work, which may signal retention issues for companies in the future. Therefore, developing a conscientious workforce strategy is becoming increasingly important to tackle this issue.
Equally, those that believe in the dominance of remote working may have to consider the practicalities. It’s possible that more meetings will take place in the metaverse, as predicted by one of our guests and backed up by a heavyweight tech authority.
“Within the next two or three years, I predict most virtual meetings will move from 2D camera image grids...to the metaverse, a 3D space with digital avatars,” Bill Gates writes.
Other interesting views of talent procurement were also expressed, especially around gender-neutral or anonymised CVs, as well as the implementation of CV QR code systems.
The benefits of more anonymised CVs have long been explored; it means that hiring managers can judge purely on talent, skill, and experience, redefining the lens of talent acquisition to suit diversity, transparency, and potential. It also tackles the issue of unconscious bias.
However, implementing this strategy has long divided opinions, with large criticism from people claiming it's not tackling the real issue and simply delaying bias.
2. Business investments: Will the crypto-currency dream burst?
When it comes to investment, the conversation is always diverse and inventive. From a developing interest in doggy daycare start-ups to growth in life sciences (which witnessed a 20% expansion last year), answers were varied.
However, one guest, who works for a global pharmaceuticals company, brought up the much-disputed discussion around crypto.
“This will be the year in which cryptocurrencies, as a bubble, will get pricked.”
Whether from changing consumer behaviour or from the threat of hacking, some of our network predicted the end of cryptocurrency.
A bold claim indeed, and not particularly welcoming if you are a Bitcoin enthusiast. However, predictions around crypto can produce opinions on each end of the spectrum, and some were more favourable to its success.
It’s true that cryptocurrency has been a volatile market over the last few years and, while risky, has awarded some investors well. Could these digital currencies challenge or even out-perform traditional financial institutions? Some people thought so.
3. Economics: Driving forward while looking backwards.
Recently, economic optimism has been difficult to find with global sociopolitical tensions and the looming shadow of a pandemic. And unfortunately, the tone remains sombre for our network.
Many highlighted economic changes influenced by the recent conflict in Ukraine, such as increased European debt from reinforced defence policies and rival payment systems in the financial sector, largely from countries experiencing heavy sanctions.
For the UK in particular, there may be a potential shortage of car parts that are currently manufactured in Eastern Europe; a ‘semiconductor shortage may push us back to petrol or diesel’.
However, is there a glimmer of hope on the horizon?
One prediction that “procurement will no longer become just a support function” is surely a positive takeaway. If the importance of procurement grows, could that mean a greater emphasis on ethical processes? With buyers becoming more conscientious about sourcing and companies becoming more transparent about supply chains, it’s possible we’ll see greater investment in ‘green’ operations.
4. Technology: An increase in telehealth accessibility.
Advancements within tech are both incredible and seemingly unstoppable. And the conversation surrounding technology and purpose is still alive, especially in reference to how it impacts our working environment.
Mentions surrounding the life span of fervently used Tiktok, notions to an interesting question of whether trend-based apps are designed to both enter and exit modern culture with equal speed. Perhaps an AI-based social media app is on the horizon which can weather this pattern?
One less speculative prediction surrounding technology was the increase in telehealth development, as expressed by Thom Cunningham-Burley, Director of Consulting at Freshminds. Already, we see interesting stats around this topic.
According to the NHS, “Appointments in general practice carried out via telephone or video/online rose from 15% in February to 48% in April, decreasing slightly to 36% in October.”
Its popularity is no surprise, considering how convenient it was to access medical advice from home during the pandemic. Equally, with increasing strain on NHS wait times, a modern solution is in desperate need. But there are big question marks surrounding the longevity of its use, and whether the quality is comparable to in-person meetings.
5. Energy: It’s time to go green.
Green energy has become the gold pot at the end of the rainbow, but who’s going to get there first?
A few predictions highlighted that this race will intensify, driven by consumer behaviour, especially in the wake of increasing energy prices in the home. This insight certainly matches recent data from The Eco Experts, which found an increase in solar installations in the UK from 28,958 in 2010 to 1,048,328 in 2022.
These numbers were driven by various factors, one being the introduction of government-backed tariffs. Unfortunately, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) closed in March 2022, which offered discounts on personal solar thermal panels - strange timing given the rising cost of gas. However, there may be other schemes on the horizon.
Additionally, there was plenty of mention surrounding a rising interest in nuclear energy, especially in Western countries. Contentious conversations in both Germany and Belgium have led to some speculation that no-nuclear policies will be retracted, especially with gas shortages from Russia.