The key market trends changing the way businesses operate

  • The pandemic and technological revolution are fundamentally changing today’s business world.
  • Organizations that rethink, reform, and reinvent themselves will be better positioned for the future.
  • Trends include real-time data learning and the integration of the physical and virtual worlds.

“This last year, business models have been reinvented. Supply chains have been restructured. The promises of new scientific breakthroughs have suddenly come true. We now know that productivity can thrive virtually.”

So says a new report, Business Futures 2021: Signals of Change, from professional services firm Accenture. It highlights how the transformations taking place in the business world are forcing companies to rethink the what, where and why of their operating models.

These are the six key trends highlighted in the report.

1. Learning from the future

Look ahead instead of behind. Relying on historical analytical models and past performance data may not be entirely relevant in today’s ever-changing business landscape.

New analytics approaches powered by artificial intelligence (AI) can identify data patterns in real time, helping to anticipate trends and inform decision-making.

Removing constraints created by existing mindsets and organizational structures also need to be removed to help companies stay one step ahead.

2. Pushed to the edge

Become an “edge” organization, where teams are part of a network but have the autonomy to decide how best to optimize local performance while still meeting corporate goals. In effect, this means moving computing power, data storage, and decision making to the edge of operations.

Technological advances and the pandemic-induced shift to remote work have boosted connectivity and information flows, allowing organizations to collaborate efficiently remotely.

Operating at the edge promotes agility, the speed to react to changing local preferences, and frees up headquarters to focus on strategic decisions.

3. Sustainable purpose

Build sustainability into everything. Companies that take social responsibility seriously create value for all stakeholders: staff, shareholders, customers, communities and the planet. But business leaders must go beyond having good intentions and show that they are actually following through on them.

Operating sustainably is also good for business. Companies with high ESG performance have operating margins on average 3.7 times higher than those with lower ratings, as well as annual returns 2.6 times higher, according to Accenture research.

Companies are now integrating sustainability into most business practices.

Image: Mc Kinsey

A McKinsey survey shows that sustainability goes beyond mission and value statements, with more than half of respondents integrating sustainability into functions such as strategic planning, marketing, internal communications, and operations.

4. Unlimited offer

Break the physical limits of your supply chain. Throughout the pandemic, organizations have had to stay agile to meet changing consumer expectations around order fulfillment. And many of these changes are here to stay, the Accenture report predicts.

Forward-thinking companies are restructuring their supply chains and moving production closer to the point of demand. This could include the adoption of micro fulfillment centers to reduce delivery times and serve more customers from a smaller space, or the use of route optimization algorithms to reduce delivery distances, avoid traffic jams and increase rates. delivery on time.

A worker uses a virtual reality headset to simulate flight in the workshop of Israeli startup AIR.

The “real virtualities” will create opportunities for organizations and individuals.

Image: REUTERS/Nir Elias

5. Real virtualities

Integrate the virtual and physical worlds. Virtual reality will eventually expand to include all of our senses, and these “real virtualities” will become a part of everyday life.

Real virtualities will create opportunities for businesses and individuals, allowing them to buy and sell virtual goods and services, something that is already happening in multiplayer games and other platforms. These could include the use of digital currencies, employee onboarding, virtual prototyping, or digital twins of industrial processes.

The World Economic Forum was the first to draw the world’s attention to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the current period of unprecedented change driven by rapid technological advances. Policies, rules and regulations have failed to keep pace with innovation, creating a growing need to fill this gap.

The Forum established the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network in 2017 to ensure that new and emerging technologies will help, not harm, humanity in the future. Headquartered in San Francisco, the network launched centers in China, India and Japan in 2018 and is rapidly establishing locally run Affiliate Centers in many countries around the world.

The global network is working closely with government, business, academic, and civil society partners to co-design and pilot agile frameworks to govern new and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, blockchain, data, digital commerce, drones, internet of things (IoT), precision medicine and environmental innovations.

Learn more about the groundbreaking work the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network is doing to prepare us for the future.

Want to help us shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Contact us to find out how you can become a member or partner.

6. The new scientific method

Become a scientific company. Scientist-led disruption can help create better, cheaper and more sustainable products and services, opening up new markets.

AI and robots have made it possible to produce a flow of vaccines against COVID-19 in record time. Similarly, some foods can now be generated in a laboratory rather than grown or raised in fields.

The Accenture report predicts that just as every company has already had to become a digital company, it will soon have to become a scientific company to benefit from innovation.

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