As 2023 winds down, it’s a great time to set our sights on the year ahead and prepare for the unfolding business landscape in 2024. What key initiatives should organizations prioritize in the new year? What will growth look like? How will AI impact global workforces? What kind of challenges will companies face?
To get a sense of what the future holds, we’ve put together the Pangeo Predictions webinar series, bringing together industry experts from around the world to forecast their predictions for the upcoming year. On this occasion, we will be delving into the trends and predictions that sparked from our exciting conversation with thought leaders in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Our panelists included Vivien Koh, Founder and Managing Director of VK Transformation, Tasneen Padiath, VP of Sales and GM of APAC at Riskified, Matt Lovegrove, Partner of People Advisory Services at Ernst & Young, and Charlie Ferguson, General Manager, APAC at G-P. The dialogue yielded four key takeaways for success in the new year.
1. Contingency plans will be imperative.
Undoubtedly, 2023 proved to be an exceptionally challenging year on multiple fronts — both at a macro and micro level. In the upcoming year, 40 countries, making up 42% of the global GDP, will have general elections. While the worldwide political landscape is always shifting, elections can lead to changing tax and immigration laws that impact global business.
For that reason, Padiath urged companies to “have a plan B ready to go” for 2024. “What if your biggest customer doesn’t renew or goes out of business? What if the product you bet on for growth doesn’t yield promise? Have BCP [business continuity] plans ready and prepare for every contingency,” said Padiath.
Lovegrove echoed these sentiments, adding that having a plan B isn’t enough on its own; you need leaders that aren’t afraid to put it into motion when necessary.
“It’s one thing to have a plan B; it’s another one to have the culture, the capability, and the ability to actually execute on that, and to be willing to say, ‘Hey, it’s time to switch,’” he said. “I’ve seen too many organizations that will have great war gaming processes, have great plan Bs and Cs and Ds, but often either fail to recognize the point when you need to pull the trigger on those, or just can’t squeeze the trigger and keep moving ahead. So I think that’s a big part of it — having leaders and culture that are willing to flex, adapt, and take some risks when it comes to changing paths is really important.”
2. Customer-centric innovation will be key to navigate new market dynamics.
Another prediction the panel mentioned was the rise of the customer-centric mentality. Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all approach to customers and markets.
“It’s very important to tailor our services and products according to different markets,” Koh said. “It’s very important to have an understanding of the local nuances and build that meaningful connection with your target audience so that you can drive loyalty and growth.”
Padiath also weighed in on the importance of identifying customer behaviors and trends and pivoting to accommodate them.
“I think the focus on the customer has never been more important than it is today,” she added. “There are massive headwinds in every industry. In the e-commerce space, for instance, growth has slowed down a lot post-Covid because spending is down. People are now shopping much more in-store. So, e-commerce margins are looking for new ways to engage the customer, like click and collect.”
Businesses will need to think carefully about how they adapt products to that changing landscape, be prepared to pivot, and have processes in place internally to quickly adapt to those market changes.
3. Growth will take on different definitions.
The panel was realistic about what growth may look like in the new year, stating that the forecast remains challenging, yet there is reason to be optimistic.
Lovegrove suggested that one of the keys to growth next year will be diversification into emerging economies. He highlighted examples like Thailand and Vietnam as emerging markets that have seen strong growth, and whose governments have been investing heavily in upskilling their people, particularly in digital skills.
Padiath shared that the way to grow in 2024 may be with an emphasis on cash flow. “This whole ‘growth at any cost’ is a thing of the past for sure,” she said. Amidst economic uncertainty, elections, a potential recession, and the unknowns of 2024, “having a healthy cash flow can be what saves many companies from major retraction or failure,” Padiath said.
When it comes to recruitment, a global strategy could also prove vital in 2024. With traditional talent hubs facing their own challenges, including skills shortages, having globally distributed workforces and a strong brand voice will be particularly important in the new year.
“Whether it’s startups or midsize, [companies need] to continuously invest in building their brand, making sure their corporate identity is clear and that their value proposition is outlined,” Koh added. The strategic use of digital platforms has emerged as a critical component in building and strengthening a company’s global brand, and businesses must leverage them to communicate their story and values to attract global candidates in 2024.
4. Advances in AI met with upskilling and proper training will define success.
Another key topic that arose in the conversation was the future of generative AI. Lovegrove introduced some eye-opening research from EY that shed light on what could potentially be a challenge in 2024. The technology is moving from hype to reality: 84% of employers surveyed across 22 countries said they’re already using generative AI or will be using it in the next year in their business. However, just 12% said they’re going to invest heavily in developing their people’s skills. That massive gap has the potential to cause a real disconnect between technology and workers.
As a result of this discovery, Lovegrove said that one of the keys to being successful in 2024 is leveraging emerging technology to make leaders and workforces more human. “Investing in the skills that are needed to become more empathetic, to become more approachable, to be better mentors and coaches, will be one of the drivers of success,” he said.
Other concerns the panel expressed about AI were with regards to data, privacy, and security, and the importance of being transparent in how AI is being used. The data uncovered in EY’s research really leans into G-P’s mantra of “technology when you want it, human when you need it.” This balance will be key to success in the new year.
Unlock success in 2024 with G-P.
Navigating the uncertainties of a new year can be daunting, but the insights shared in our APAC edition of Pangeo Predictions stand as a valuable guide to help you better prepare for the new year. G-P will continue to gather global perspectives and predictions from thought leaders and industry experts around the world — stay tuned for the rollout of our complete 2024 Pangeo Predictions eBook coming in January.
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