Entrepreneurs

Have You Got What It Takes To Be A Phoenix In The New, Never Normal?

Back in February, I had the pleasure of talking to Mark Curtis, Chief Client Officer at Fjord and Head of Innovation for Accenture Interactive about their recently published Trends 2020 report.

The trends, crowdsourced from their designers around the world, aim to uncover stuff that they believe will affect the way we think about products and services over the next 2 to 3 years and how businesses can best traverse those changes.

Here’s a synopsis of the trends:

  • Many faces of growth highlights the idea that many corporate transformations will soon switch their focus from digital to purpose as more and more people demand more from companies than just financial success.
  • Money changers explores our changing experience of what money is, what it can do and how that is opening up a whole host of opportunities for new products and services.
  • Walking barcodes discusses how the combination of the growth of facial and body language recognition technology and 5G will enable the creation of new physical and personalized experiences.
  • Liquid people looks at how people are increasingly defining their identity around what is important to them, how that is affecting consumption patterns and behaviors and what that means for organizations.
  • Designing intelligence is all about the possibility of combining human and artificial intelligence in the workplace to enhance the human experience.
  • Digital doubles points to people taking control of their data and how that is allowing them to create digital doubles that act as gatekeepers, actors and helpers in their digital lives.
  • Life-centered design describes the rising need to not just design for users, consumers or humans but for all life and for the entire planet.

Now, a lot has happened and changed over the last few months so to get a view on how these trends may have been changed or may have been affected by events I spoke with Curtis’ colleague, Olof Schybergson, Chief Experience Officer at Accenture Interactive, a few weeks ago for a chat about the trends, how they are changing and what has stood out for him over the last few months.

On the trends, Schybergson told me that they believe that many of the trends are still valid and, in fact, most of them have accelerated, particularly in the area of purpose.

This is confusing many companies, as many are still hoping that things will go back to the way they were prior to the pandemic. However, Schybergson believes that this is a mistake and warns that “what we see is that the pandemic is actually shifting behavior …..the way people work, the way people socialize, the way people shop, the way people get services and so on. We will see some readjustment over time, but things are not going back to the way they were.” 

He goes on to say that we are now entering a period that they are calling ‘a New, Never Normal’.

What that means is that while the threat of the pandemic may recede in time, the economic, industrial and technology disruption that we have experienced is not going away any time soon. In fact, the rate of disruption is increasing and has been accelerated by the pandemic.

That is causing some major pains for many organizations and is resulting in a widening gap between those that are leaders and those that are laggards with many scrambling to get their act together so as not to get caught in the laggard category.

If they don’t, then there could be dire consequences. Schybergson told me that at Accenture Interactive, they see four different categories of organization that will emerge from this period.

  1. The first are those organizations that are really quite badly exposed to the massive changes that are going on around us, are stuck where they are and, therefore, they will not survive and will end up in ashes
  2. The second are taking the challenge seriously and are accelerating their investments in the areas of digital, customer centricity and purpose. This Schybergson believes will give them the best chance of rising like a Phoenix out of the ashes.
  3. The third group they call the disturber group. Now, while this group may only represent a small percentage of the total number of firms, given that they are digital-first and customer-obsessed, they are extremely well-positioned to thrive through the coming period. Great examples would be the Amazons, the Peletons and the Zooms of this world. 
  4. Finally, there will be the companies and brands that are born into and out of this new, never normal period.

So, it seems the choice is clear for more established and traditional firms. Make the investments that are required or get ready for the fire.

However, the last word goes to Schybergson, who warns that investment alone will not be enough and that to succeed and thrive in the future organizations will also need to embrace a customer-obsessed mindset. This is easier said than done and could be, in fact, the hardest challenge of all for many.

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Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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