It’s almost that time of the year again: time to adorn the office Christmas tree in tinsel, share your Spotify wrapped with anyone who will listen, and eagerly draft up your seasonal out-of-office message. While many of us take time to celebrate the year’s achievements (and by achievements I mean yay- we survived!), it’s also a crucial time to look forward at 2024 and predict what will be in store.
Today, I’ve compiled a list of 5 global trends that will undoubtedly affect every business in 2024. So, whether you’re a small business owner anxiously anticipating the new year or just a curious employee keeping their finger on the pulse, stay tuned- it’s a mixed bag!
1- AI Everywhere
Yawn... I get it, we’re all sick of hearing about AI. Dystopian headlines warning of the dangers posed by this new technology ignited a fear in many, but since the dust has settled and we’ve become more familiar with seeing AI in our daily lives, its constant domination of headlines has resulted in a general fatigue. Nonetheless, I’m sorry to say that AI, specifically generative AI, is the hottest trend on almost every list predicting 2024 trends.
Of course there is some uncertainty that continues to follow AI, especially around job security and data protection (for more on that, jump to number 4 on the list), but it is increasingly being viewed as a force for good, driving innovation across nearly every industry.
It’s impossible to touch on every area AI is predicted to revolutionise (we’d probably still be here in 2025), but customer service has been specifically singled out by both market experts and customers. Think data-driven recommendations, increased personalisation and rapid-response chat bots equipped with encyclopaedic knowledge. 78% of customers expect generative AI will soon play a crucial role in customer service, with 7 our of 10 more likely to buy from a company utilising it in the future.
Chances are, most of us have already used AI tools in our daily lives or at work, though the boundaries continue to be pushed. A weird and wonderful example of AI innovation came from China, where fast food giant KFC teamed up with Chinese search engine Baidu to develop facial recognition technology to predict customer orders based on factors such as predicted age and mood. Convenient? Sure. Dystopian? Possibly.
Regardless, generative AI will continue to be a hot topic in 2024 and businesses slow to adopt its benefits will surely fall behind.
2- The Rise of Gen Z… and Fall of Office Working
2023 saw Gen Z (the generation born between 1997 and 2012) surpass Baby Boomers as the largest age group in the workforce. But what does this mean practically for businesses, apart from the obvious fear of being roped into a humiliating TikTok by the hip new marketing hire? “It will make us go viral, I swear!”
Well, firstly, Gen Z are *rightly* putting their foot down and demanding changes their parent’s generation were more laid back on- pay equity, diversity, corporate culture, and generally encouraging corporate social responsibility. As well as this, the majority of Gen Z are campaigners for remote working, fighting to ensure a post-Covid return to the office doesn’t happen. It makes practical sense: less expenses for the business while widely-reported levels of productivity remain the same. For workers, a flexible work/life balance has a great impact on mental health, as well as environmental benefits from cutting out the commute.
In fact, remote working has become so treasured by many that a survey found two thirds of remote workers would start looking for a new job if their boss asked them to come back to the office full time. Furthermore, 50% would rather take a pay cut than lose their flexible working lifestyle.
3- Sustainability- Not Just a Buzz Word
‘Sustainability’ was the AI of yesterday, and greenwashing made many of us lose faith in corporate claims of actually making a real difference in the fight for a greener future. But after the shock of Covid’s sudden impact on our lives, the reality of a looming environmental disaster having even worse effects has become tangibly all-too real.
2024 will see sustainability continue to be the word on everyone’s lips, with transparency, authenticity and accountability being key in fighting the good fight. Businesses will increasingly adopt reporting tools to do so. A watertight grip on who exactly your supply chain is made up of is vital, as well as communicating this openly with customers.
The IT sector is responsible for 1.8%-39% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and innovation will be key in supporting sustainable goals in this industry. A great example of this comes from server manufactures creating modular units where instead of replacing office equipment with brand new tech every few years, the host processing unit can be replaced instead, cutting carbon emissions involved in manufacturing greatly.
4- Geopolitical Unpredictability
2024 will see 40 countries face general elections, of course including global powerhouse and general trendsetter, the USA. Political parties are making their pleas for votes at a time of extremely tough economic conditions, and this will certainly have an impact on many people’s vote. Economists agree that volatility should be expected, but there are hopes of inflation lowering and a slowdown in interest rate rises. Despite this, 61% of economists interviewed by the World Economic Forum expect the global economy to weaken.
Amongst all this uncertainty, there is an expectation that 2024 will feature a wave of new legislation, specifically surrounding AI. Data protection and cybersecurity have been under the microscope, and as this new world is explored, there is great pressure on government to ensure businesses are handling consumer data fairly, privately and ethically. In the US, 10 states have already introduced laws to protect consumer data, and this will surely be followed by others.
What does all this mean for business? Annoyingly, it’s hard to know. ‘Uncertainty’ has been penned the title of 2024 by many, and we can only wait and see the impacts of these geopolitical changes.
5- Automation, Automation, Automation
Finally, last but by no means least on our list comes automation. Automation is best friends with AI, riding shotgun together driving global innovation (aww– aren’t they sweet). But automation is nothing new: we’ve been automating for all of human history, from when our ancient ancestors created basic tools to help speed up farming.
According to a survey by G2, more than 50% of cloud solutions will have implemented automation tools by 2025 to simplify processes and improve usability. Frankly, 50% is a sad number to all of us at Compleat- and we won’t rest until it’s 100% across every industry!
Compleat provides uniquely scalable and affordable solutions for businesses of all sizes globally, from Accounts Payable Automation to transforming your entire Purchase-to-Pay process. Another survey released this year by G2 announced that end-to-end AP automation solutions will be hot in demand from customers in 2024, with respondents quoting invoice capture and approval workflows as two of the most requested features. If your staff are spending too much time on manual processing and you think your business could benefit from automation, request a demo here.
2024- An Uncertain (But Hopeful?) Year
So, which of the above do you think will have the biggest impact on business in 2024? Join in the conversation over on our LinkedIn page and let us know what you think.
Above all, we wish you and your business a great 2024 from everyone at Compleat, and hope we can be part of your future success!