Since 2020 started, businesses have been carefully choosing and adopting the new trends to stay ahead and be competitive in the coming years. In this regard, the ever evolving technology has always been a challenge for enterprises. To crown this, the start of 2020 saw the world stuck by a pandemic as never before. 

Life seemed to have been slowed down a bit but it is seen regaining its pace again. A significant change can occur after the crises and technology seem to be influencing businesses even more. For example, artificial intelligence and machine learning will be involved in businesses even more than before. Moreover, digital transformation of business will gain more importance no matter what the intricacies it might have in its process of businesses digitizing themselves. 

We made a list of some top business trends that can help businesses to restart themselves amid the COVID-19 crisis. These trends are always interlinked with each other leaving it upon the leaders to make the best strategy in adopting these and decide the best combination for their enterprise.

Team Augmentation:

Team augmentation is a novel approach in which a company decides to extend its in-house team by hiring remote professionals usually from a different location. The augmented teams become a part of existing staff to perform routine organization activities and thus bring diversity in expertise and availability. 

 

As new developments keep on emerging, the shortage of local talent can be filled by subcontracting resources from a third party. This approach reduces all the hassle of hiring, training, and integrating new staff. Moreover, team augmentation saves employers’ precious time and offers several economic benefits by reducing expenses and increasing productivity [1].  Similarly, by giving flexibility to the employees in choosing their work options, it lowers stress levels and improves their work performance. 

 

Research shows that team augmentation has been the second fastest growing industry in the previous decade. Keeping this unprecedented growth in mind, it can be assumed that this approach will have a big impact on corporate development in the coming years. Team Augmentation is what businesses require to handle the workload and boost transformation through advanced technology. 

 

A careful selection of geographical locations for augmented teams can ensure round-the-clock operations without any interruption. It reduces unsocial hours for staff that positively impacts their morale and increases business resilience against local challenges such as power cuts or loss of service. Similarly, choosing from the best talent from around the world is a bonus and helps entrepreneurs fill the talent gap. Tiara Brown Neil, A tech by profession, revealed with the help of a graph that the global IT outsourcing market is going ahead at a CAGR of 4.42% [2].

Nevertheless, team augmentation has to be brought in with careful planning and considerations. The biggest challenge is to establish smooth communication processes among different teams. There are multiple ways that make integration between two teams convenient and productive. Some outsourcing companies assign separate rooms with all necessary facilities to make it easier for in-house teams to stay in touch with their augmented teams. It also allows project managers to regularly communicate with their teams and monitor the progress of ongoing projects [3]. A company doing comprehensive research before determining its outsourcing needs can prevent any future hassles while taking all the load off from their own team.

Adaptation of AI Based Tools:

Artificial intelligence, together with the ever increasing processing power and Big Data, is making tremendous changes in the corporate world and will keep on transforming in the coming years. AI is a technology that is continuously growing and has the ability to have a huge impact over the world’s economy by growing the global revenue from 9.5 billion to 118.6 billion in the next 25 years [4].

The recent progress in AI is evident from the implementation of this technology in previously untested fields. Be it the field of medicine or banking or education, AI is making tremendous impacts. For example, banks are using automation to make customer experience better and more personalized [5]. AI is also expected to do a wonderful job in Application Development in 2020 and businesses find ways in which ways it can be used to get better results. 

 

Customer service is another area where automation processes in sales have shown significant improvement. It is estimated that by 2020, AI will be used by 30% of world companies in the minimum of one sale process [6]. Along with machine learning, AI is widely used to facilitate online customer experience. Although nothing can replace humans, Chatbots and Robotic Process Automation have brought positive feedback from customers as they expressed their satisfaction after getting assisted by chatbots during shopping. According to a survey report, more than 84% of respondents were satisfied with their online shopping experience through Chatbots. Moreover, RPA helps businesses in lowering costs and improving organizational performance. According to an estimate, RPA can enable employers to save 60% of their expenses and 90% of their precious time [7].

A negative side of AI often brings policy makers to debate about its negative impacts on the world. For example, AI is often blamed for data breaches. But the fact is that the same technology can be used to enhance privacy and restrict attackers [8]. As it cannot be taken out of our lives now, its restrictive use will lessen a company’s competence and decrease its ability to outperform its competitors.

Machine Learning:

A subset of artificial intelligence, machine learning allows computers to solve complex problems through programmed features and insights from data. It has two major types: Supervised and unsupervised. Machine learning also has various subsets such as deep learning, natural language processing (NLP), and neural networks.

 

The last decade has seen a rapid increase in deployment of machine learning in different applications including data analytics, pattern recognition, and data mining. It is estimated that the global machine learning market will grow by more than $8.81 billion by 2002 [9].

Companies are using machine learning for improvement in web search results, detection of network intrusion, and protection of confidential information. Additionally, many industries have deployed machine learning to increase their productivity, closely monitor the employees’ performance, and simplify complex organizational problems.

Another major advantage of machine learning for the corporate sector is that it has created thousands of new employment opportunities. The median salary for professionals associated with machine learning or its subsets was $106,225 in 2017. 

Digital Transformation:

When a business undergoes through a process of transforming itself from a whole traditional layout into a new digitized organization, it brings a lot of changes altogether. The evolution of technology has renewed the whole concept of running a business. Similarly, several new processes and thinking new thoughts have been introduced by people with new perspectives and innovative ideas. The whole idea is to stay competitive in this technology-driven age.

Already a necessity for business growth, Digital transformation will be further expanded in coming years as it helps businesses build brand image and ensure value proposition. It helps staff get more organized and attracts more millennials [10]. Being energetic, fresh employees always welcome change and prefer working with an enterprise that makes use of the latest technologies. In this way, the company gets the best talent available which improves organizational productivity and enhances customer experience.

Education or health sectors are also working on getting more and more digitized in order to be more competitive. The Banks are digitally transforming themselves to deliver excellence to their customers. According to a study, businesses that undergo digital transformation are 26% more popular than their competitors [11]. In the form of RPA, most companies can achieve cost-efficiency by automating their processes that required human presence before.

Data management is closely related to digital transformation of a business. This approach enables companies to manage a large amount of data through the latest technologies like AI, ML, and SaaS [12]. It also encourages extending public cloud adoption.

Several surveys show that businesses are still struggling to achieve complete digital transformation and the success rate is less than even 30% [13]. Successful digital transformation of a business is a hard process to complete in spite of all the investments that businesses are ready to make. This is because the whole process has to be strategy-based requiring a set of principles that will involve everything to get it work. The inclusion of skilled professionals with a grip on IT is essential along with a leader, the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to pave the path. Having a CDO has now become a necessity for every business in today’s competitive business environment. 

Going digital is just the first step, and the whole process of adapting to the metamorphosed environment and making it work lies with people.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) collectively improve user experience, the former immerses the users in a virtual environment, while the latter enhance that environment. Although the major use of VR has been in the gaming sector, some organizations are also using it for training purposes.

 

Researchers believe both these technologies possess ample potential and can be used in various sectors like education, training, marketing, business, manufacturing, and IT. Besides, VR and AR can transform the traditional organizational practices by introducing new and innovative operational techniques. 

The adoption of VR and AR by the IT sector has been highly productive and beneficial in terms of economic growth and innovation. The application of these two technologies has completely revolutionized the gaming industry by bringing new types of virtual games. Similarly, process and manufacturing industries have been able to virtually experience different processes and working of machines. Consequently, performance and reliability of complex systems have been improved that results in higher growth and profits.

Data Privacy 

While privacy has been an important concern for customers and people in general, it is sometimes seen maligned by companies for their own economic gains. Similarly, it can be breached because of a security error. According to the latest research, nearly 44% of CEOs consider Data Privacy among top three effective business policies [14].

After the European Union General Data Protection Revolution, several new rules have been laid down to protect data privacy that include heavy fines on companies for not protecting consumer’s privacy. As we enter 2020, protecting the clients’ confidential information has become a bigger challenge for companies [15].

As big a challenge as it seems to be, enhancing consumer’s privacy protection stays as beneficial for the companies too. The companies that are spending resources to secure customer’s privacy seem to be financially gaining more. A report shows how the companies that spent resources on Data privacy attracted more customers and consequently had financial benefits at least twice of what they had spent [16].

In the past, companies have taken key steps to secure their customers’ data privacy by de-identifying or anonymizing personal information. With break neck advances in AI and ML, re-identification of this data has now become possible [17]. But the same technology can be used to further the security and find out new solutions. Thus, the emergence of Privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) has set a new hope by enhancing data privacy and maintaining the maximum usage.

Businesses now have high goals to achieve regarding their consumers’ privacy. The mistrust between enterprise and consumer can be covered by bringing transparency in consumer’s data. Privacy should be the priority of an enterprise and entrepreneurs must ensure it is included in all operations of a business from the start. Consumers’ rights should not only include the information of the data used by the company, but they should also be authorized to control it.

Cloud Adaptation:

Cloud computing is an advanced approach that allows companies to move their workloads to a remote data center known as the public cloud. As the cloud market continues to grow, companies have deployed different cloud adaptation strategies from multi-cloud to hybrid-cloud [18]. Multi-cloud strategies help companies reduce their vendor lock in. In-house cloud skills show how a company is agile towards providing its customers cloud services.

Cloud adaptation also continues to grow in businesses as we set in 2020 owing to its market value. Panetta explains how the most successful companies stick to a cloud first strategy by continuously working to improve themselves in cloud adoption [19]. A survey shows companies in America are focused on spreading cloud across their businesses and are managing their budgets to spend more on cloud. 

Cloud adaptation helps businesses in various ways making their in-house work uncomplicated [20]. Buying servers or operating systems or hardware is no longer required; that needs upgrading too, so a lot of economic benefits can be achieved. Similarly, it brings less trouble by making it easier for employers to spend their time on extra management and stay focused on more important tasks that helps them increase productivity. 

There is often a buzz around regarding the security of data in the cloud that sometimes makes its use questionable and limited for the enterprises [21]. However, this can end up limiting their opportunities too in the business world. Rimol viewed cloud security through another perspective where at large the security depends upon how the customers use it rather than being the company’s fault [22]. Through proper planning and policy making, cloud adaptation can be helpful and beneficial. 

To start with, everyone in the company has to reach a combined consensus that cloud computing has to be adopted as a company’s policy to avoid security issues. Another fact about cloud security is that there has to be some risk taking as no such thing as ultimate security exists [23]. The need is to have a proper risk management strategy to make better use of public cloud while avoiding risk exposure. The main thing is neither underestimate, nor overestimate cloud risks, both approaches can prove detrimental.

Internet of Things (IoT):

The evolution of the internet has made this world a global village. Thousands of devices are now connected to the internet through WiFi connectivity. Hence, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the future of digital transformation and has already connected home appliances with digital devices.

IoT has also enabled us to exchange large amounts of data over the internet within milliseconds. The speed of data transfer and the volume of information shared by IoT is incomparable by any other technology. According to an estimate, the number of IoT devices are expected to reach 30 billion devices by 2020 [24].

Blockchain:

Blockchain is a distributive ledger which stores data in a chronological fashion and prevents any data alteration once stored. All the blocks in a blockchain also have the information called a hash that differentiates them from each other. Blockchain has five basic elements that combine together to make the companies take the real advantage of blockchain by enabling two or more parties to safely interact with each other and share information [25]. For example, in health care, blockchain helps keep a patient’s record and maintain its security.

Blockchain has changed the way we used to do transactions by involving a third party which would take a small amount as their fee. It also helps trace assets back to their origin. In supply chain management, it enables companies to trace food borne illnesses back to their origin and allows parties to trace assets back to their origin.

AI and blockchain could be put to work together to enhance each other’s usefulness and counteract their problems. Blockchain can be used to increase AI usefulness as it exhibits data storing capacities in an organized and transparent way [26]. This transparency also ensures the security of data. Similarly, AI can be used to make blockchain securer and its tools more user-friendly. The combination of these two technologies seems to be gaining popularity and 2020 will be the year when we can practically see the positive outcomes coming from their working combination. 

Blockchain is said to be securing the Internet of Things owing to its transparency in data storage. As more and more companies are digitally transforming themselves, more machine-to-machine communication is being promoted at commercial level. It is important now to have safe data storage and blockchain is something that is the safest till now.

Poor scalability and interoperability are said to be the disadvantages of blockchain. Despite being more than 10 years old, Blockchain still has to set foot in the mainstream market as it is being used by a very small number of organizations. The recent years, however, have seen new developments in the technology as businesses are adopting it in spite of some of its disadvantages. At the same time, this technology cannot be ignored as Gartner predicts it to be fully workable by 2023. In this regard, CEOs should start working on the implementation of this technology into their businesses from now. Though not very new in the business world, blockchain still undergoes some privacy issues that have hindered it to be among the top business strategies so far. 

Appropriate use-cases for Blockchain implementation remain a highly debated area. There have been attempts to use the technology for public clouds and for storing Big Data. Widespread use for the technology in newer domains is challenged by its inherent design intent for provenance integrity [24]. Careful consideration of the technology’s strengths and limitations is recommended for planning a new implementation.

Understanding the best use of this technology stays important, as it will result in the outbreak of new businesses based on distributed ledger technology. Also, it has nulled the need for more involved parties making a transaction securer and more transparent. Hence, it is expected that future organizations will have extensive dependence on blockchain technology. 

Remote Working:

Remote working has been gaining popularity for years and the year 2020 will see a lot of increase in this trend as it has continually provided both employers and employees with a whole set of benefits. 

The flexibility that the employees find in remote work is said to be one of the most talked about benefits as it makes employees decide their time and place of work according to what suits them the best [27]. This also results in higher productivity and better results.

Additionally, the employees have to spend less on food and clothing and save their daily travelling expenses. The cut down traveling not only brings the expenditures down but also saves time. According to a survey, an average American employee spends about 26 minutes traveling. While a remote worker can save this time and utilize it in performing the assigned tasks efficiently by working from home [28]. Hiring workers from remote areas is also seen as cost-effective for the companies as they can save costs related to the provision of facilities, infrastructure, and liabilities of in-house staff.

Several companies are now encouraging workers to work from home and perform their duties remotely. This provides employers with the best talent around the world. Research shows that about 74% of the workforce would prefer to quit a job for one that offers remote positions [29]. Remote working also brings higher productivity. State and work productivity report shows 65% of full time employees believe that remote working would increase productivity. This was agreed upon by their employers too.

There are some misconceptions about remote work that restrict some employers from hiring remote employees. For example, it is believed that the remote workers have trouble communicating or they always feel plugged in, or in some cases they don’t really work at all. As far as communication is concerned, it is true that the remote worker may miss routine meetings but video call sessions are a good replacement. Many companies are adopting video call meetings as a routine so that the remote workers could also feel the bond and trust with their company that the in-house team shares [30]. It is also observed that the remote workers follow a routine of their everyday tasks by managing their timings so that they don’t always feel plugged in by lying in bed all day and trying to work in bits and pieces as they are blamed to be.

Already the figures of remote working have been rising throughout the world especially since 2019. The recent pandemic has increased the usability of remote workers since they are the only option to continue organizational operations in the current crisis. It has also shown another benefit as the pandemic does not disturb the schedule of remote workers. In this scenario, researchers have predicted a complete shift towards remote working as the employees of some companies would never want to come to office after the pandemic ends and lockdowns lifted [31]. When they find themselves doing everything from home, they would never want to come back to office for the same.

Conclusion:

Leaders can better decide to take their business further by adopting the right approach and making the right decisions to uplift their companies to new heights. Staying competitive and ahead essential in today’s dynamic business environment. The trends discussed in this guide would impact businesses the most, not just in 2020 but also beyond. These trends include Remote Working, Team Augmentation, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Digital Transformation, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), Data Privacy, Cloud Adaptation, Internet of Things (IoT), and Blockchain. Additionally, future scientific developments would completely transform the corporate world by replacing traditional organizational approaches with innovative and more productive techniques. Hence, it is necessary for companies to adjust themselves according to changing technology and globalization in order to remain ahead of their competitors and lead the global business landscape.

References

 

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