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The 2020s: What Changes Are Coming And How Do I Adapt?

After the “nineties” and the “noughties”, the “twenty-tens” just didn’t have quite the same ring to it. For that reason alone, it will surely be a relief to get into the twenties. But will they be as roaring as the last lot? 

Let’s take a look at some of the major predictions for the next decade across technology, the economy and politics, according to the experts. And explore what small businesses can do to adapt and maximise their potential. One thing is for certain, they will need to adapt. In our ever-changing society, there’s no going back.

 

“Alexa, what will happen in technology in the 2020s?”

The top 10 technological advancements likely over the next decade: 

1. Artificial intelligence
The ability of a machine to think and learn.

2. Augmented reality/Virtual reality
Adding digital elements with AR or complete immersion in a digital world (with a VR headset).

3. Voice recognition
The ability of a machine to understand spoken commands. A third of web browsing will be voice-activated by 2020 (Gartner)

4. Autonomous cars
Self-driving vehicles. 

5. 3D-Printing
Prints layer upon layer to create three-dimensional objects like jewellery or prototypes. 

6. Blockchain 
A decentralised database that can’t be copied or modified and is the basis for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. 

7. 5G
The next generation of WiFi set to be 100 faster than 4G. 

8. Mainstream Internet of Things 
Interconnected devices embedded with software that allows it to collect, exchange and respond to data (think smartwatches). 

9. Wireless power
The ability to charge or use power through electromagnetic induction (without cables). 

10. Universal translation
Instant translation of any language through text and voice. 

Businesses need to consider what effect these technological advancements could have on their products and services.

  • What threats are there and what could be capitalised on from a marketing or product development perspective?
  • How do marketing strategies need to change in light of voice-activated web search and constant connectivity? 

There’s still a lot that most organisations could do to use data better, capitalise on personalisation and build online communities. And if your business relies heavily on one channel like pay-per-click advertising or uses a platform like Facebook as it’s main way as connecting with customers then you should consider lessening this reliance. Own your data and have multiple routes to market because it’s possible that the ‘big tech’ monopoly will be broken up over the next decade and that these platforms won’t exist any longer (or be as popular or used in the same ways). 

“A million small and medium-size enterprises could offer a million different sets of house rules, and the monopoly would be effectively disrupted.”

Cory Doctorow, author and journalist

Businesses that don’t have the ability to integrate tech fast and adapt will get left behind. Small businesses have an advantage here as it’s much easier for them to implement systems and processes and to be agile.

“Alexa, what will happen in politics in the 2020s?”

Boris’ huge majority in the December election means that he will now “get Brexit done”. Britain will leave the EU on 31 January 2020 and then begin trade talks. On one hand, this ends some of the Brexit uncertainty that the country has been submerged in for over three years. 

The result saw the pound rise to the highest level it’s been since before the original Brexit vote. Shares in politically sensitive industries like banking, construction, water, rail and energy also shot up in value. But while this may bring some short-term business and consumer confidence, there’s still a long way to go with the trade negotiations. Many analysts predict a recession and interest-rate cut for the country, particularly if we end up leaving without a deal. 

Other Tory business-related policies pledged to come into place:

  • An increase in the National Living Wage for all over-21s by 2024.
  • Corporation Tax will stay at 19%.
  • Tax relief and an increase in employment allowance for the construction and research industries. 
  • Apprenticeship reforms and increased spending plus a new National Retraining Scheme. 
  • A focus on broadband infrastructure in rural areas.
  • Cut the burden of tax on business by reducing business rates via a fundamental review of the system.
  • Increase the Employment Allowance for small businesses – a tax cut for half a million small firms.
  • Review and reform Entrepreneur’s Relief.

 

“Alexa, what will happen to the workforce in the 2020s?”

Gen Z is coming and the businesses that will do best will open their arms wide and embrace the knowledge and skills of this confident age group. They’re habitual multi-taskers who won’t have the attention spans for tedious meetings and drawn out decision making.

5 things Gen Z will look for in an employer: 

  1. A progressive attitude to tech. 
  2. Permission to act autonomously.
  3. Remote and flexible working options. 
  4. A strong company culture. 
  5. A social and sustainable focus. 

They’re an ambitious bunch with over 50% of 14-25-year-old Brits thinking about or having already started a business (Future Founders). They want to do something they love and something that gives them a sense of purpose. They’re prepared to manage their own skills development and also face fewer barriers when it comes to accessing resource, technology and even the funding required to start a business. 

Because of this, training, development and retention will become of less of a priority but a cool company culture will be a critical advantage. 

And they’re not just making up the workforce, in 2020 Gen Z will overtake Gen Y as the biggest spending consumers. So you want their help in marketing to them, by them.

 


 

The faster the pace that the rate of change feels, the more uncertainty it seems to bring. But we know many of the advancements that are coming over the next decade, it’s about who can adopt them quickly and effectively. The easiest way to be able to know what’s coming and adapt to it is by being up to speed with what’s around now or you’ll get left behind.

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Sophie Cross

Sophie Cross is a freelance writer and marketer specialising in business and travel. She is the editor for London Revealed magazine and her clients include lastminute.com Group and Merlin Entertainments.

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