2020 is around the corner.
It’s the time of the year again where businesses wrap up for 2019, reviewing and re-evaluating their strategic plans. Like every year, I have the same concern – how can I steer the company towards a more purpose-driven and profitable direction in the coming year?
As we usher in 2020, it is imperative to understand the implications of emerging technologies, increasingly complex ecosystem, mounting customers’ expectations and establishing the right leadership competencies. With a tepid economic growth and weakened consumer sentiment expected in Singapore and across the region next year, how can we rise to these challenges and thrive in this digital era?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here to stay
These days, everyone is talking about AI.
As cliché as it sounds, it is not leaving any time and will continue to be a gamechanger across industries, especially when the world is operating in synchronous time. For instance, you can schedule your medical appointment or make enquiries about a product by simply speaking to a chatbot. In fact, Singapore’s government has invested $$500 million in AI capabilities, as part of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 (RIE 2020) plan.
The issue of AI in the real world
Many times, I hear from business owners and CIOs wanting to implement AI in their business operations. The thing is, it is not just about jumping on the bandwagon and utilising the tool. They need to consider how to harmonise employees and AI to work well together. How can the business processes and models be re-engineered to serve customers better without losing their trust? Business outcomes can backfire if your AI strategy is poorly thought through or backed by outdated technology and inaccurate data.
For businesses to stay competitive in the long run, it is imperative to engage in responsible AI practices. An Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data was set up in Singapore to look into ethical and legal implications arising from the use of AI. For example, if a doctor adopted AI and made an inaccurate diagnosis, who is liable?
Leaping towards a hyper-connected world
There has been a lot of hype around 5G recently, especially with Singapore’s plan to develop an inclusive innovation ecosystem and roll out commercial 5G services in 2020 progressively.
It’s not just about a faster bandwidth. It is also about how you make use of the cutting-edge technology to improve lives and deliver better experiences. With a seamless connectivity, an overseas conference call may even make you feel as if you are in the same room! If 5G successfully delivers what it promises to do, it can support and enhance the potential of AI. Perhaps the incidence of high-profile AI failures can be lowered when tapping on 5G capabilities.
Changing tide of customer expectations
In my 25 years of working experience, I dare say that today’s customer is a far cry from the customer in the past. In this increasingly connected world where smart technology and information is readily available, customers today are more well-versed, digitally-savvy and do their research before making a purchase. In this digital era, they embrace smart solutions and are familiar with the do-it-yourself model. They are also less tolerant of poor service and expect solution provisioning to be quick. Hence, it is fundamental for businesses to manage the demands of the Next Mobile economy to create greater customer value and improve business growth.
Customer is king. We get it. A lot of times, I see organisations investing in customer first capabilities but are slower in responding to employee experiences (EX). However, customer experience (CX) and EX are more intrinsically linked and can generate higher returns than you think. Just like how customers are at the pulse of the business, employees are the backbone of the company. They are the ones making the decisions and facing the customers. Businesses need to rethink and look beyond devising a customer-centric strategy. For example, how can you streamline processes for frontline employees to serve customers better? Could a tool like robotic process automation (RPA) help to ease the workload for your employees? After all, happy employees make happy customers.
Nevertheless, businesses need to strike a balance between experience and security priorities. Will the implementation of CX strategy compromise trust? Do you just engineer security solutions for the sake of deploying them? CIOs need to adopt a security-by-design mindset rather than having security as an afterthought.
Increasingly connected, inclusive ecosystem
To thrive in this globally connected economy, it is vital for businesses to forge meaningful connections with their stakeholders in their ecosystem. For example, at JOS, we do not just liaise with customers but also deal with other parties such as vendors and distributors. For the business to be sustainable in the long run, it is critical to engage stakeholder trust and loyalty.
Besides, in this digital world, enabling digital platforms can create a more robust ecosystem. With increasing connectivity and more stakeholders included in the ecosystem, the conundrum of digital trust arises. How do you ensure that there are ample authentication, authorisation and governance in your digital infrastructure?
Leading for change
Nothing is set in stone anymore in this increasingly complex world. Leaders are expected to take on many hats and embrace dramatic, unprecedented changes in the business landscape, especially with the development of technology and future of work initiatives. Do you have what it takes to lead and manage a multi-generational workforce? How can you influence an innovative culture and ensure that your vision is effectively communicated to your employees?
No winning formula
All in all, there is no one-size-fits all solution for businesses as they gear up for 2020. Infrastructure is merely a part of the puzzle. Businesses need to stay open and inclusive to thrive in this digital world. As the year is coming to an end, it is a good time to rethink your business strategies, seize opportunities and grow the pie!
Are you gamed for 2020?