Typically, the first quarter of the year is the time to plan for the 12 months ahead. With many challenges on the horizon for businesses, professionals, and society as a whole – namely, the climate emergency, ongoing economic downturn, and political unrest – this year’s planning cycle has been a particularly critical one.
Business and technology leaders have been exploring how they can reach their goals in the year ahead and drive organizational efficiencies, all while budgets are tightening and uncertainties are increasing.
So with business plans drawn and ready to be actioned, what have turned out to be the top priorities for 2023? Let’s explore these in more detail:
– Being lean and green – our research found that 78% of sustainability managers say sustainability initiatives are a priority for their business
– Supercharging productivity and decision-making
– Leaning on tech to plug the skills gap
– Rallying the team ahead of an uncertain year
Driving ESG initiatives with hard targets and numbers
The business and technology worlds alike have finally realized the urgency of sustainability. As such, over the coming months, we’ll see ESG taken beyond the realm of general business initiatives, with the C-suite being given monetary targets so that goals are less abstract. Reducing e-waste by X amount, rather than an overarching promise to reduce emissions, for instance, are the types of goals we’ll likely see in the coming year.
There’s a groundswell of opinion that organizations must prioritise these programmes. So, if you don’t have a strong, tangible ESG programme, your brand and business will suffer. Employees want to work for companies that show they care about the environment and society. And, according to the CBI, two-thirds of investors consider ESG factors when assessing a company. This means that ESG initiatives will be prominent in the coming months, as will claims of greenwashing. The smart players will make sure they have the data to back up what they say.
The bar for productivity moves. Again.
Productivity is never more important than when times are tough. As such, it’s under the magnifying glass once again—and hybrid work could be a casualty. Remote work saved many companies from ruin during the pandemic, but it doesn’t come without costs; chief among these being slower decision-making. Working right next to your colleagues can really help productivity, with quick questions and answers exchanged face to face. No need to email or schedule a call, which can take days and really slow down the process.
At the best of times, the ability to innovate faster than your competition is a real competitive advantage. Slow collaboration and decision-making kill innovation. And, in tough times, this can lead to disastrous results. To supercharge productivity and decision-making, I think we’ll see more companies insisting on a certain number of days in the office each week—or a full return to office-based working—to make sure innovation still happens at the required speed and that remote working isn’t a barrier to success.
Skills shortages meet urgent data needs
This year, the existing skills shortage will be compounded by the tough economic climate. Even if the talent is in the marketplace, waiting to be hired, hiring budgets are being reined in. Add the fact that companies will be even keener to use data to find new efficiencies and opportunities, and I think it becomes clear that self-service and no-code tech could see a sizable surge.
Businesses will be looking for tools that let them work with data, without needing to hire specialists. They’ll need solutions with automation baked in to take on some of the heavy lifting. Anything as-a-service will have an advantage while cash flow is tight. None of this removes the need for skilled people, but tech with these advantages could help many companies navigate the choppy waters we’ll all be sailing.
Winning cultures for winning businesses
With talent in short supply, ongoing change in the workplace, and the world dealing with extenuating circumstances, the right culture is going to be critical this year. The companies that are likely to come out of 2023 looking healthy will be those that can rally their employees to a mission.
For years, companies spent money on expensive coffee machines, quirky decor, and beanbag areas. Now, young people have a social conscience and a drive to feel that what they do matters. They want to innovate, create and work somewhere where they feel they’re actually contributing. Companies that can show them the impact they have at work, and give them a goal they can be proud of, will enjoy the benefits of impassioned, focused teammates.
Driving productivity, sustainability and efficiencies in 2023
It’s unlikely that we’ll see the goals set by businesses stay stable across the year – fluidity will be key to not just surviving, but thriving. That said, I expect the four themes discussed to follow us throughout the year.
We’ll see a renewed focus on sustainability in 2023 as ESG becomes ‘non-negotiable’ for partners and suppliers. It’s clear that if you’re not prioritizing sustainability, it’s going to hurt your business and brand. Leaders will be looking to supercharge productivity and decision-making as a way to make gains wherever possible, all while budgets are tightening. As businesses grapple with talent shortages, there will be an increased reliance on modern tech to enable growth. And, this year, more than any year, fostering that winning culture is going to be key to stability in the next 12 months.