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Coming soon in 2019: Four business trends and how to prepare for them

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As we edge closer towards 2019, business leaders such as yourself would be looking ahead for what the next year has in store for the ever-changing employment landscape. 

Understanding and responding to new trends is vital for organisational success, as it enables businesses to make the right decisions and react quicker to change. Based off the latest 2019 Vodafone Trends report which surveyed over 1,700 businesses across the globe, here are four of the most prominent trends that businesses should take note of:

1. Importance of trust in the digital world

In an uncertain world of changing threats, constant risks and changing loyalties, trust has become a valuable commodity. Hence, this drives a need for organisations to manage the risk brought by change and uncertainty in the digital age.

Four in five business leaders feel that their colleagues manage risk well, but 65% feel they need help with risk management while more than half (57%) feel that their organisation would pay to transfer risk.


Interestingly, while technology is a key force of change, most organisations react positively towards using it to overcome business challenges. Businesses are generally positive about the role of technology in the future, with close to nine in ten being excited by the future (86%) and agreeing that technology will help them conquer their business challenges (92%).

Key takeaway: Where trust is hard to earn and maintain, business leaders need to identify what is threatening or preventing trust in their business and where the opportunities to nurture and develop it lie. Furthermore, as employees seek new and trusting relationships with organisations, business leaders will need to build quality, transparency and reliability in every corner and interaction within organisation.

2. Prioritising ethics is central to winning the competitive race

Acting ethically and focusing on mission statements is essential for businesses, particularly those looking to grow trust. The importance of a company’s business mission has increased over the last five years, with 72% of the businesses surveyed actively depending on their company mission statement to attract consumers and win business.

Additionally, as the use of AI to automate business processes becoming more prevalent, there arises a need for HR to adapt policies in terms of the way people work with AI ethics and how AI is used.

The research also showed that those who anticipate an increase of ethics in business in the next five years are more likely to agree that automation provides opportunities for a better work-life balance.

Key takeaway: Businesses should actively look to engage in social and ethical initiatives that are vital to their customers, as well as incorporate their ethical stance into their mission statements and ensure that all business activity ties back to that vision.

As we shift towards a future where humans and machines learn together, businesses should take a holistic view to automation and ethics and keep in mind the benefits that these could bring for employees.

ALSO READ: Four key trends in the future of payroll

3. Humans and machines need to work together

Leaders are recognising the need to create an environment that allows people to thrive, supported by automation and machines. This starts with acquiring a full understanding of the role of automation and AI in their business, and how it will impact the human workforce.

More than eight in 10 (85%) businesses recognise that humans will need to work alongside AI in the future but also see the challenges that it will bring.


Notably, 60% of the businesses have the opinion that AI would lead to more jobs in the future. A large majority of the businesses agree that AI will lead to different jobs (86%) and that these jobs would be ones that are more productive (83%). Yet, there are also concerns from over half of those surveyed (54%), which consider that AI will lead to discrimination against groups of people.

Key takeaway: Businesses that are starting to build automation and AI into business processes need to create a strategy that focuses on the benefits it brings to both employees and the business. This prepares employees and infrastructure to adapt and embrace a more automated future.

Moreover, businesses need to embrace the possibilities of AI and other new technologies while continuing to focus on attracting the right talent through targeted recruitment campaigns.

4. Technology-led disruption is putting people at the heart of the business

Disruption has changed how businesses and employees interact. Firstly, businesses are looking for specific skills among their employees to help them navigate these changes.

Secondly, employees wish to take advantage of a shift toward digitisation to improve work life balance and flexibility. Across all sectors, businesses predict that digital technology skills will be the most important in the workplace for the next three to five years.

With the shelf-life of skills reducing within a short span of time, it is important for businesses to keep up with evolutionary changes, particularly in the area of digital to ensure that employees are prepared to meet the challenges that the changes in the business landscape will bring.

Trends in hiring and working arrangements are said to undergo changes as well. As for hiring, organisations want to build long term relationships with employees, rather than rely on gig economy workers.

Most businesses recognise that there is a need to change working arrangements to fit better with the digital era, with only less than one in 10 businesses indicating that no changes are needed. Most commonly, businesses indicate that more stable, longer term employment opportunities are needed alongside flexible working hours and places of work.

Key takeaway: Ultimately, companies have to recognise that disruption is impacting every facet of the business world and this calls for leaders to prioritise how they adapt to their employees’ changing demands, by putting people at the centre of their strategies.

This prioritisation would include tools and services that transform how people work and do business with their organisation, making it as simple and seamless as possible.

Communications and mobility technologies need to be the cornerstone of transforming customer experiences and improving the productivity of workforces. Businesses need to tailor services to individual needs – whether that’s customers or employees.

ALSO READ: Pragmatic transformation for 2019: 3 trends for HR to watch

Infographics / Vodafone

Photo/ 123RF

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