Insights 3 April 2020

5 Mega Trends to Steer Businesses Forward in the New Decade of 2020s

Many businesses have perished or faded away amid the constant evolution of technology and rapid-changing consumer behaviors, a reflection that “Adapting” is the only way for businesses to survive the age of disruption. It is certain that in the beginning of the new decade of the 2020s, new changes will be expected, especially technology trends that will affect ways of doing business in the 2020s. The following are the mega trends that will pose both challenges and business opportunities in the next 10 years.

1. Hyper Personalization: Personal needs are answered with services and products that go beyond expectations.

One-size-fits-all is no longer the way to offer products and services going forward.  Customer needs should be answered even before the customers express their needs. The more the products respond to customers’ specific preferences, the more the products become in high demand.  An example is the motor insurance business where products are customized according to customers’ personal behaviors through “on-off insurance” services. With these services, customers’ personal behaviors will be monitored through telematics equipment for calculation of insurance premium discounts according to personal risks. The equipment will monitor and detect the customer’s driving behaviors from the patterns of pressing the brake or the accelerator to assess the customer’s chance of having an accident. Starting or turning off the engine is also monitored for the verification of actual driving distances. This type of insurance service can offer up to 40% insurance premium discounts to customers, as compared to typical insurance services. The ability to provide products that most suit the customer’s needs in such examples enables the motor “on-off insurance” to have a higher chance of growth compared to rivals in the same segment. Another trend worth watching next year is BioTech, which will help improve healthcare services to greater heights. Examples of this technology include Precision Medicine which adopts Big Data Analytics in the analysis and processing of personal genetic information for prescription and production of medicines as well as design of disease preventive guidance according to particular health issues of each individual. This technology will help reduce costs of passive treatments while focusing more on proactive treatments. Designing products and services that meet specific needs of customers paves the way for businesses to capture and win their customers’ hearts.

2. Intelligent Automation: RPA and AI will be smarter and replace humans.

The trend of using robots in place of humans is becoming clearer this year.  Previously, robots were used to fulfill back-end duties and manage uncomplicated work systems to help reduce human workloads. But this year, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will be smarter and can do front-end tasks with more connectivity with customers. For example, when a customer places an order on his/her smartphone, the order will go to the back-end function of the business and relevant service tasks will be assigned to either an employee or a drone. This technology-based process helps drive the emergence of new business models with less reliance on human workers, such as robo-taxis. This type of technology can be seen at the grand-opening of a self-driving helicopter taxi service or Uber Eats where drones are used for food delivery. Nowadays, a growing number of automation systems are seen replacing the human workforce. It could be said that now humans stand at the crossroads of the transition and have to improve their skills to keep up with the robots.

3. Frictionless World: Businesses are brought closer to consumers.

Today’s technology is increasingly connecting things together and giving orders real-time. This trend meets the lifestyles of the new generations of consumers who do not have time to deal with placing recurring orders or refilling depleting inventories. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) are connected to an automated ordering system at the customer’s point-of-use to create a frictionless ordering experience. A clear example is the Smart Living/Smart Home technology where the Internet is connected to home appliances so that instructions can be given through a smart phone or a computerized voice system like Voicebot. The work status of a particular appliance at home can be tracked real-time through an inventory tracking system whereby a sensor installed at a particular home appliance can detect whether its supply is running low and the system will send a purchase order to a particular store automatically.  Such technology can address the needs of the customers who may not be aware of things around them. It helps make lives of people at the digital age easier. So, it is no longer enough for businesses to just fulfill the needs of the customers at the point-of-sale, especially for this new decade. Moving forward, retail businesses have to embrace and stay current with any new changes to bring themselves closer to the customers. Getting closer to the customers to become a part of their lives is considered another way to add value to businesses. The closer the retail businesses are to the customers, the higher chance they will have returned customers and recurring revenues.

4. As-a-Service Economy: People can share resources without having to own them.

Another trend with the expected growing influence this year is the service sharing business model where all people can access goods and services without the need to buy them. With the development of the Cloud and IoT technologies, businesses offer as-a-Service capabilities on a subscription or pay-per-use basis. This enables customers to settle payments based on the number of their uses and to access goods or services without being the actual owners. Thus, the customers can save costs of repairs and maintenance, and avoid paying large amounts of funds on a one-off basis. Meanwhile, businesses can benefit from this payment model as they can convert capital expenditures into operating expenses with more financial liquidity. Currently, the As-a-Service Economy concept is becoming widely adopted by businesses, such as scooter sharing/bike sharing service provided by Uber in America. Through such service, customers can rent and operate a scooter or a bike as-a-Service by scanning and unlocking the service through an application. They can also leave the vehicle at a preferred destination without the need to return it to the original point.

5. Ecosystem: Interconnected business ecosystems lead to more business collaboration.

Technologies have played an important role in all dimensions of business, whether they be Al at Scale, Big Data, Cloud Storage, or Internet of Things (IoT.) Business ecosystems are expanded with an increase in new business models and a smaller gap between business segments. Interconnected business ecosystems lead to more business collaboration and an unprecedented level of business growth on platforms.

Attention Economy comes into play as businesses compete to gain time with customers to the greatest extent possible. To this end, they have to find partners who deal with the customers’ lifestyles even though such partners are from different industries so as to build up customer loyalty. A clear example is “Grab” whose initial ride-hailing taxi service business has expanded to cover food delivery service, hotel booking service, etc. Its service can answer wide-ranging needs of regular customers.  Furthermore, users can earn points for money spent through Grab-related transactions. This serves as a switching cost that makes it harder for the customers to change to other service providers. As a result, Grab has earned the leader position in the market quickly with tremendous added value to its business.

One good thing about larger business partners is that they already have technologies and customer bases on digital platforms and thus can develop new business lines or models at lower costs and higher speeds compared to smaller enterprises; while smaller business partners can inspire new ideas, further services, or penetrate new customer groups. Collaboration and exchange of information between partners creates added value to businesses or the opportunity to be one step closer to other aspects of business success.

Another trend favoring doing business is peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding. These are alternative options for business operators and offer funds at lower financial costs. SMEs will have more opportunities to steer and expand their businesses with affordable costs and abilities to compete in the larger markets, hence the more choices available for the customers to choose from to better suit their needs. All these 5 mega trends reflect that putting technology into use not only helps create a simpler and more convenient experience for customers, but also links customer needs with the right products or services. This opens new doors of opportunities for businesses that can adjust themselves and apply technology wisely to move closer to success.