3 Predictions About How B2B & B2C Teams Will Operate in 2024
The internet is littered with analyses of how the past year went and what experts have to say about how the new year is going to go. There’s a reason that predictions are such an in-demand topic: organizations are chomping at the bit to know what worked (or didn’t work) in the past and what can help supercharge their businesses in the present.
To that end, the insights listed here are carefully constructed expectations that have been gathered through conversations and work with many Fortune 500 companies, spanning both the B2B and B2C worlds. This certainly isn’t exhaustive, but these three areas can give you an indication of how the most successful businesses in the world will likely be operating in the coming year.
Widespread “Wait & See” Mentality
In previous years, there were typically bolder seasons or more conservative ones. Depending on the economy and trends in market, companies either went big or buckled down. But instead of swinging to one end of the pendulum or the other, this year will likely be marked by a middle of the road approach.
Business leaders want to see how things play out before making major decisions to either curtail spending or make large investments. They want to know how the economy is going to ebb or flow this year before they drastically change their strategic direction. They need to see what will happen with the job market before they make hasty decisions about their labor force.
If you look at the Consumer Confidence Index® in the U.S., you’ll see that it increased in December to 110.7, up from 101.0 in November. This indicates a really strong economic outlook for 2024, however the true reality doesn’t always exactly pan out how the survey presents it might. Most probably, inflation and interest rates will remain high this year and consumer behaviors will be similar to what they were last year. On the job market front, there are some improvements – but not anything dramatic.
So, with all this in mind, many organizations are going to be waiting to see what happens next with consumers, the economy and the job market before they make any major decisions. More to the point, it’s natural that companies will avoid making any big bets this year until they see where all of these fluctuating factors end up heading. This means you won’t see big risks on new product launches, significant marketing initiatives and so forth. During this wait and see timeframe, many organizations should at the very least invest internally to make sure when their operations are as efficient as possible so they can take advantage when market conditions become clearer as to which direction it will head – bull or bear. This includes things like auditing and analyzing the performance of their MarTech stack, effectiveness of the lead-gen ‘engine’ and data management. Which leads to the next prediction. .
Data Organization & Security are Top Priorities
Data, data everywhere has been a recurring theme among the world’s highest performing companies in recent years. But there’s still a long way to go before all the data that’s been amassed is actually leveraged for the best use cases. Many Fortune 500 companies are sitting on a vast amount of riches when it comes to data, and yet they don’t know what to do with it and/or aren’t sure where it resides or who owns it. This year, this will change. Organizations are going to pour their resources into organizing, structuring and modeling their data so they can start to better activate against it. Identifying a true understanding of the 80/20 revenue volume rule (that the top 20% of their customer base makes up 80% of the business) – such that companies can put laser-focus on those high-value, loyal customers.
Having data-led intelligence to drive business strategy is critical. A recent industry study by Oracle found 85% of business leaders have suffered from decision distress – regretting, feeling guilty about, or questioning a decision they made in the past year. Meanwhile, 93 percent believe having the right type of decision intelligence will make or break the success of an organization. Which is why having a full understanding key data across various systems and tools – like CDPs, data warehouses and lakes – along with the BI to make sense of it all to support more data-led and informed decisions will drive better outcomes.
The other side to this coin is security. Despite all the chatter around the importance of data security, sophisticated companies are still getting hacked (as an example, MGM was the target of an enormous cyber hack in late 2023). This is costing businesses not only money, but also consumer trust and the quality of their reputations.
On the cost front, IBM found that the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million, a 15% increase over three years. This is across companies of all sizes, demonstrating just how detrimental a breach can be. IBM also stated that “51% of organizations are planning to increase security investments as a result of a breach, including incident response (IR) planning and testing, employee training, and threat detection and response tools.”
In addition to getting their data houses in order, companies are going to make investments into cybersecurity this year. There will likely be huge investments made to over-index to make sure companies as a whole are protected from security breaches, along with their customer data and proprietary information. These areas are also where many companies will plan to utilize AI to increase efficiency and results. The one watch-out is not going too far down the road of security that measures of protection create barriers for employees to get their jobs done efficiently and effectively. It’s a fine line to tow and having the right change management in place to support teams in being compliant, while keeping them motivated will be paramount.
Organizations Focus on Trust over Popularity
In recent times, “cause marketing” has become an important consideration for businesses everywhere. As generations of consumers began vocally caring about how much good organizations are doing in the world (and buying/not buying from companies accordingly), this has been something companies couldn’t ignore.
Today, though, many causes in the world have become incredibly polarizing. If a brand tries to publicly support a cause they believe in, there’s potential for unintentional backlash. Leading to a segment of their customer base with an opposing view or stance to openly decry the brand as a one they will continue to support. . It’s become a lose/lose situation, and many organizations are likely going to play it safe this year as a result.
As companies are choosing to avoid taking a specific stance on public and social issues, they’re coming back to their business and customer needs as the focal point. You can expect companies to channel their energy into investing in their products/service offerings, their customers, and the experience they’re creating for them. They’ll essentially be getting back to strong business fundamentals, and sidestepping the chance of making the wrong move and becoming public enemy number one.
There’s a lot we can expect in 2024, but just as the first prediction points out, there’s also a lot we’ll need to monitor. The savviest organizations will spend the year getting a feel for how the economy and consumer behavior may change, avoid making big bets until they have more solid information, put data organization and security first and focus on building trust instead of becoming popular. These approaches will likely help organizations close the year even stronger, and can all be considered by businesses of all shapes and sizes. Here’s to a smart and successful 2024.