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Business predictions 2024: Six big ideas from business insiders

by the Freshminds team February 16, 2024
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At the start of every year, Freshminds hosts an exclusive Strategy Dinner, bringing together insightful and impressive members of our network. 

Our guests are drawn from a diverse range of sectors, from retail to private equity, and most share the common thread of being at the forefront of their organisation's strategy - staying ahead of the market is their forte.

At the start of the evening, we ask the room to sing for their supper and share their predictions or hopes for the coming business year, ranging from groundbreaking industry shifts to political turbulence. 

The Freshminds Strategy Dinner packs a punch - at our event at the start of 2020, one of the guests from the healthcare space predicted not only a pandemic, but that the 2020 Olympic Games would be cancelled. No one believed it, but we heard it there first - and he was right.

Here are just some of the predictions from this year’s event.

  • Aside from these six broader predictions, which drew comments and discussion from many of our guests, here are some of the other views from the business crystal ball.

  • India will continue to grow in economic importance

  • The growth in “slowcations” instead of adventure travel

  • The cost of living crisis will continue to adversely affect hospitality

  • Content will be delivered and consumed in ever-shorter formats

  • There will be a rise in the perceived value of professional training at work

1) Powering up collective sustainability

One of our guests, an HR Director in a waste management company, predicts that the recycling market will accelerate in 2024

There’s never been more corporate pressure to “go green” than there is today. Driven by policy change, public opinion, and the instability of sourcing fossil fuels, most businesses are trying to figure out how sustainability fits into their corporate strategy. 

The electric vs hydrogen debate also rumbles on. But is it a competition at all? Many manufacturing executives, like Oliver Zipse, CEO at BMW, believe that the automotive industry requires multiple technologies to achieve worldwide climate neutrality. Last year, he said:

Hydrogen is the missing piece in the jigsaw when it comes to emission-free mobility.” 

We may see greater investment in hydrogen cars this year, as well as electric fleets. 

2) Should it be this hard to get hybrid working right? 

2023 was a big year for companies issuing return-to-office (RTO) mandates. This topic was raised at our dinner by a Head of Sustainability at a leading real estate consultancy. 

Executives from organisations like Zoom, BlackRock, and Disney have been very vocal about their opinions on flexible working - believing that office work is crucial for training and collaboration. 

However, many workers remain sceptical that they experience the above-mentioned benefits, leading to trends of ‘quiet quitting' and applications for remote working opportunities to skyrocket.  

Buffer’s 2023 State of Remote Work report found that 91% of survey respondents enjoyed working remotely, with flexibility listed as the biggest benefit

Clearly, there is a discord between those implementing the rules and those having to live by them - not a good position for any company to be in. 

Could a Chief Hybrid Officer (CHO) fix that?

Some organisations like Microsoft are hiring people whose core role is about “Aligning clear team & work standards combined with the right use of technology are leading factors”. For businesses struggling with the hybrid balance, this could offer a solution. 

3) Sports investment is spurred on by high-net-worth individuals

Celebrities and high-net-worth individuals have always had a place in the sporting world, often acting as advertising partners or ambassadors. 

One Consultant from Freshminds predicts that we'll see an increase in individuals investing their own wealth in the development of sporting teams and leagues. This trend has certainly grown in the past few years; some examples of this include: 

  • Actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought Wrexham FC. 

  • Tom Brady invested in and is Chairman of the new Advisory Board for Birmingham City FC. 

  • Naomi Osaka invested in the Pickleball league.

  • Dwayne Wade invested in the Utah Jazz basketball team.

We also had a prediction from a senior Director in a national sporting body that women's sports, in particular, were going to benefit from even more investment in 2024. That is supported by research from Deloitte, which says, "2024 will see women's sport globally produce revenues exceeding $1bn for the very first time, meaning that women's sport assets are more valuable than ever."

4) Supply chains continue to be squeezed

If you've read through any mainstream British news this week, no doubt you'll have been confronted by hysteria about tea shortages - headlines of "genuinely distraught" Britons is not an understatement (happily, this is one curve Freshminds is ahead of, and our kitchen is well stocked!).

The problem is largely triggered by increased conflict in Yemen and the Red Sea, causing huge delays in transportation channels like the Bab el-Mandeb strait. But the waves of disruption are likely to spread further, with increasing manufacturing costs and unpredictable water levels putting pressure on some of the world's most important supply chains. 

One of our guests, an Associate Partner at a leading consulting firm, predicted that these disruptions would continue well into 2024, while another looked at Asia as being an emerging hub for supply and distribution chains. 

This has already impacted businesses; CNBC reports, "Tesla, Volvo, and Michelin have recently said they have had to halt manufacturing. IKEA has warned of delays of product, as well as British retailer Next and Crocs."

Consumers, not just in Britain but around the globe, may find there is less choice on the shelves than usual over the coming months.

5) The year of the election looms

Will he, won't he? Any election talk at the moment continues to be dominated by Trump's apparent revival in the US political sphere. And this was also true for our dinner, where guests seemed to be split on whether Biden or Trump would succeed in this year's presidential race.

The US presidential election results in huge ripple effects across the globe, so the speculation is hardly surprising. And given the current geopolitical tensions, many are anxious about which straw is going to break the camel's back. 

So many of our world's most pressing issues rely on collective action, whether that be conflict resolution, our drive towards carbon neutrality or, as mentioned above, global supply chains.

But the US is not the only country facing an election this year - in fact, 64 countries are primed for political change, including the UK. 

6) Consumer convenience is heightened with smart tech 

With thermal earrings that can monitor your health, food delivery bikes fitted with warming ovens, and smart contact lenses, the innovation occurring in the tech sphere is happening at a rapid pace. 

One guest who works within strategy at a global marketplace predicted that the use of NFTs to authenticate luxury items may increase. Over the last three years, the luxury market has boomed and, with it, an increase in counterfeit goods - causing havoc for resellers and consumers alike. 

This has led to an increase in "authentication" businesses like StockX and eBay's "Authenticity Guarantee" service in the sportswear industry - we may see more emerge this year for other luxury items. 

Other predictions that were heard in the tech and innovation space include:

  • Apple will drive forward with generative AI; Tim Cook, CEO, says, "We continue to spend a tremendous amount of time and effort, and we're excited to share the details of our ongoing work in that space later this year."

  • The Western world will see increased services around consumer delivery services, many of which are already happening in Asia and the Middle East. 

  • Greater technology within the solar energy space - after a bumper year in 2023, more products with built-in solar-powered batteries could be on the rise.

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