Predictions for 2020
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Predictions for 2020

As the year draws to a close, let us reflect on some of the trends, influences and events that will make themselves felt in 2020 and help to shape the year.

If the predictions made in a recent Forrester report prove true, 2020 will be a year of cost control and people-management challenges for CIOs.

Next year, enterprises need to recognize technology’s potential to be a strategic force for driving innovation and competitive advantage. We need demand strategies because of economic cycles and digital disruption, and to make them future-proof, CIOs should go into 2020 with a precise technology-spend optimization strategy that aligns with business goals and broader objectives.

Ascertaining the best use of innovative technologies and services will, more than ever, allow companies to enable their people to work smarter. To ensure long term success, staff retention and ongoing competitiveness in 2020, businesses will need to listen to – and embrace the demands of – their workforce. The digital workplace can no longer be merely an aspiration – it needs to become a reality.

Creating a business-building capability

McKinsey Digital affirm that business building is no longer a choice. Going into the year 2020, it is an essential discipline that enables incumbents to counter disruptive challenges and sustain organic growth. McKinsey state that, in their experience, new businesses can also serve as proving grounds for agility and design thinking, giving an incumbent’s executives the opportunity to gain exposure to these practices before introducing them to core businesses. But for many incumbent companies, building new businesses – especially those with a business model substantially different from the parent organization’s – will be an unfamiliar endeavour.

The workplace has become more technologically complex, therefore faster-paced companies are increasingly looking to infuse agility into their operating models.  McKinsey affirm that, as organizations attempt to scale these efforts across their entire business, new challenges that simply didn’t exist at the micro level, begin to surface. Their research proves that agility as an operating model requires the rewiring of core enterprise-wide processes, and with this comes a need for the organization to operate differently.

The workplace

McKinsey have found that the degree of change required to adopt agile ways of working across an entire organization is just too large to implement by simply repurposing existing roles and structures. They recommend investing in ‘agility coaches’ who help implement a comprehensive program to identify, train, and support staff. Only then can companies expect to scale and sustain agility across the enterprise.

Adapt. Drive growth.

IT and digital transformation are a pivotal focus in terms of organizational mission, culture, and values. “Organizations across every industry in the public and private sectors will need to determine the role that information technology plays in the future of their organizations and, therefore, how to effectively invest strategically in technology as a competitive force,” says David Dodd, vice president for information technology, and CIO at the Stevens Institute of Technology

When viewed from a global economic perspective, becoming technologically competitive will be essential for enterprise success in 2020 and beyond. “Organizations that manage to plot a successful path forward in this area will prosper,” Dodd noted. “Those that avoid such decisions, or simply embrace cost cutting and efficiency, will pay a price for such decisions, including the substantial cost of missed opportunities in a highly technology-driven global economic environment.”

Building a culture of civility and dignity

In tandem with agility, we need to encourage respect. Dignity is our sense of inherent value and worth as human beings. Our shared dignity as human beings truly determines whether a society works or not. When society becomes uncivil, only our shared humanity as a people can save it.

How should we respond when the values that define who we are collectively – equality, inclusion, and freedom of speech – appear to erode?

As we catapult toward digital greatness, we see an increase in thoughtless actions in the workplace with a global complaint of employees being that they feel disrespected, ignored, and undermined. The effect of this is lasting damage that should worry every organization.

Georgetown University business school professor, Christine Porath asked 20,000 employees around the world what they most wanted from their leaders today. The number one answer was “respect.”

So, if incivility has such a huge cost, why do we still see so much of it?

Porath’s survey indicates stress as a leading contributor, and that the reason people are not more civil is because they’re skeptical about being civil or appearing nice. A large number of participants believed that would appear less ‘leader-like’.

In closing, it is clear that becoming technologically competitive is essential for a firm’s future readiness but also that civility elevates morale and creates a productive workplace and society.  I would like to inspire leaders going into 2020 to ensure their teams’ cultures deliver what employees around the world today are clamouring for: a highly respectful place in which to work.