Dr Ross Curran is an assistant professor at Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University Dubai
Digital transformation will reach new heights with accelerated developments
This year will see continued developments across transformative technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and 5G. As the use of such technologies becomes more integrated in daily operations, the boundaries between them are expected to blur. Therefore, they will be used in tandem to optimise business processes. Whereas the automation of manual and routine tasks was a major development of 2022, while this year will see the automation of creative tasks. In addition, combining the use of these technologies will yield new solutions for business decision-making and hybrid and remote working processes.
In 2022, the main barriers that impacted the integration of transformative technologies include employee training, talent shortage, multi-stakeholder collaboration and building tech-centered strategies. Companies worked to solve these issues by updating their management strategies and adjusting work processes to ensure successful adoption of digital tools. As such, businesses are expected to move beyond adjustment processes in 2023 to address more effective sales and marketing, resilient supply chains, and streamlined manufacturing processes.
Supply chain resilience will climb to the top of global priorities for businesses:
With expected ongoing inflation and slower economic growth expected in 2023, supply chain resilience will become a main priority for business survival. This past year, many companies were still dealing with financial loss attributed to Covid-19 supply chain disruption. As such, companies must prioritise supply chain resilience to combat economic limitations. This includes diversifying suppliers to meet consumer demand, more effective sales and marketing, better customer service and streamlined manufacturing processes. With the recent easing of Covid-19 regulations in China, there will be significant opportunity for review and optimisation of supply chains linked to the Chinese economy.
Most importantly, the use of technology and AI continue to play a role in risk assessment and due diligence. Tools and software that offer customised models and templates to analyse documents, populate risk assessments, and offer assessments of risk-level will be of great importance. Although the role of experts and compliance professionals is of equal importance, using data and analytics to automate risk assessment processes can support effective decision-making by enabling leaders to focus on more pressing tasks.
Sustainability criteria will continue to drive purchase trends
Deloitte’s Global Marketing Trends 2022 report shows that 57% of consumers worldwide are more loyal to brands that are genuinely committed to causes responding to social and environmental challenges. Further to this, conscious customers can discern when businesses capitalise on sustainability causes to increase revenue. With purpose-driven marketing becoming a trend and a requirement to survive in today’s market, customers are becoming sceptical about the intent of brands. This can happen through the lack of long-term commitment to sustainability, product inconsistencies and unsupported claims. Therefore, business should account for growing consumer awareness by setting realistic goals to achieve credibility and transparency. Critically, businesses should also focus on embedding trackability in their performance against such goals. One of the main challenges that businesses face when adopting sustainable production is facing extra costs. Companies can alleviate the impact of these costs by gradually transitioning to sustainability. For example, some businesses challenge their consumers to choose between the cheaper option and the sustainable “morally better” one by paying an extra cost. By making consumers part of the solution, brands can extend the sense of responsibility to the wider community.
The trend towards immersive consumer experience will be on the rise
The trend towards immersive experiences will continue as brands are increasingly looking to increase interaction with consumers via immersive technologies through means such as 3D environments, and VR. For example, some brands offer virtual dressing rooms with virtual ‘wearable’ representations of products. Nike is a good example of this as the brand has acquired RTFKT studio, a digital collectibles company, which will enable selling virtual sneakers to outfit people’s avatars in the metaverse. In addition, brands are increasingly appointing chief experience officers (CXO) to ensure the integration of immersive technologies in business strategy. This includes industry leaders like Adobe and Adweek.
Finally, businesses will address privacy concerns surrounding data collection more efficiently. Despite the advent of extended reality technologies and increased prevalence, security and privacy were some of the major obstacles to adoption among some consumer groups. With increased attention to transparency about data collection, there will likely be developments in related regulation to respond to the proliferation of these new technologies.