Future of Work: Global Business Trends 2020

We are officially in a new decade. Over the past 10 years, the global business landscape has dramatically transformed. In 2020, we can expect to see even more innovations that will shape the future of work and beyond.

For businesses, innovation offers many exciting opportunities; however, it can be difficult to know which advancements will be the most beneficial. While the exact answer can vary by organization, we gain much insight by looking at the overall movements shaping modern industry.

Here are the global business trends we predict will be game changers this year:

  1. The Jobs of Tomorrow: Using People and Technology to Bridge the Skills Gap

LinkedIn recently released its Jobs of Tomorrow report for 2020, predicting emerging jobs for the next year. The three areas they emphasized were:

  • Demand for artificial intelligence (AI) roles – such as cybersecurity specialists and data scientists.
  • An increased emphasis on remote work, offering flexibility for recruiters and employees.
  • The need for valuable soft skills, such as communication, creativity, and collaboration — all of which are virtually impossible to automate.

At the same time, many manufacturers have reported skill gap challenges, with potential candidates not possessing the skills needed to perform the role or grow with the company in the future.

Two trends can help bridge this gap in 2020:

a) Reskilling/retraining

One way that businesses might bridge the skills gap in 2020 is through recruiting candidates for potential vs. hard skills, and then retraining. For instance, one software company recruits medical technology professionals and trains them for information technology roles.

Companies may also perform more corporate training to retrain current staff. Harvard Business Review reported that In July 2019, Amazon announced plans to invest $700 million to upskill 100,000 employees.

b) Automating roles where appropriate

Another trend for businesses struggling with a labour shortage is to employ technology to perform skilled roles. For instance, order fulfillment automation is an emerging trend that can fill orders faster with less overhead and resources — plus it limits the need for skilled staff members.

While AI and automation won’t replace the need for humans, in 2020 we expect to see more robust and strategic technology used to bolster the workforce of the future.

  1. Demand-Driven Inventory and Process Optimization

Supply chain innovations abounded in 2019, and it’s predicted that in 2020 more businesses will continue to find improvements.

According to IDC Manufacturing Insights, by the end of 2021, half of all manufacturing supply chains will have invested in supply chain resiliency and AI resulting in productivity improvements of 15%.

Many organizations have reaped the rewards of transforming the manufacturing planning process from traditional to demand-driven. In 2020, we expect to see demand-driven operating models becoming the norm.

Traceability, a critical part of the supply chain process, will take precedence in 2020. According to the World Health Organization, 600 million people suffer food poisoning every year and 420,000 die as a result. In 2020, SYSPRO CIO Kevin Dherman predicts that advanced food tracking and packaging will play a pivotal role in risk detection vs. disaster recovery.

Other notable innovations in supply chain automation have also gained traction in 2019. For instance, Material Handling & Logistics reported that researchers at the University of Washington have used machine learning to develop a system that assesses ergonomic risk for warehouse workers.

In 2020, the use of AI in supply chain and manufacturing processes will only continue to grow.

  1. Global Economic Uncertainty and Consumer Expectations

Globally, the economy is predicted to face some challenges in 2020 – namely trade uncertainty, interest rate changes (such as the recent U.S. Federal Reserve cuts), slowed down global growth, and increased international competition.

At the same time, consumers are also demanding more from businesses — more transparency, more sustainability, and more personalization.

These global trends present challenges for businesses, but also the opportunity to excel.

According to McKinsey’s The State of Fashion 2020, “Brands that can align with the dominant trends and continue to innovate are most likely to ride the challenges and emerge ahead of the pack.”

As competition increases, improving the customer experience and the supply chain process will become increasingly important. Technology should be utilized in the digital transformation journey to help navigate economic uncertainty by finding efficiencies, making more accurate demand forecasts, and promoting agility.

As Strategy+Business put it, “…you can no longer treat investments in these areas as a cost, as you might have in the past — you now need to view these investments as a means to unlock value.”

Technology can also help achieve a better brand reputation, such as through improving production process sustainability and reducing businesses’ carbon footprints by using a demand-driven operating model.

While uncertainty may be coming in 2020, digital solutions are what will help guide businesses through the doubt with big data, predictive analytics, and more efficient workflows.

What global business trends do you think we’ll see in 2020? Share with us on social media. SHEA Global is on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Our team of experts helps businesses achieve end-to-end transformation and ongoing optimization. We can help navigate trends in 2020 and beyond. Reach out to us today for a consultation.