TrendReport 2022: Business Edition


TrendReport - old

 For our 20th anniversary, we decided to issue 20 predictions this year. The first five are available here. The second set of five mostly dealt with trends based on the endemic or midterm elections

Here are our final set, which focuses on business issues, though some are the result of Covid:

  1. Business magazines will publish fewer print issues. This won’t get much coverage but PR and marketing functions need to be aware that there will be fewer print issues of major business magazines. Not long ago, new issues might hit before you had a chance to finish the previous issue. Now, there so much time between some issues, you might think your subscription expired to Forbes (used to publish 26 issues, now six), Fortune (24, now 14), Fast Company and Inc. (12, now six each) or Bloomberg Businessweek (50, now 45). Another example of shadow inflation is that the subscription to these and other publications used to include print and website access but now print subscriptions no longer provide online access. What this means: These business outletsare still important to an older demographic but their print editions are, because of their new publishing schedules, less timely.
  2. Companies need to evaluate their technology, including security, and real estate needs. For a brief moment, it looked like offices were reopening but omicron put those plans on hold. Even when offices reopen, many employees will work a few days in the office and few days from home. What this means: Companies need to evaluate their technology, including cloud and security, to enable hybrid workers to collaborate easily and effectively. So expect more apps to connect employees remotely, including apps that transcribe (not just record) virtual meetings and improve how we deliver presentations. Companies also need to reassess their office space requirements, and we expect them to scale back. We expect the media to pay attention to the impact on the real estate market and to look at the future of the office and how we work.
  3. HR will be seen as a competitive advantage. Being able to successfullymanage remote teams, retain and recruit employees is more of a strategic priority than ever, especially given the Great Resignation. We expect the media to cover: fierce competition for talent that’s no longer limited by geography and will require better pay and benefits, including more flexibility for caregiving, mental health support; a positive culture (made more challenging to communicate remotely) more diversity and more corporate social responsibility programs; and less tolerance for toxic workplace conditions. This last point is especially important for front-line jobs – like flight attendants, restaurant workers, etc. – who dealt with rude and hostile costumers.  What this means: Employees are rethinking their careers and are searching for meaningful work, and companies will need to find ways to provide that. This is particularly important for small companies, including mom-and-pop retail and restaurants, who will find it harder to stay in business if they can’t find and keep employees.
  4. Future of money is increasingly cashless: More monetary transactions in 2022 will take place using apps like Venmo, PayPal, and Zelle because they’re more convenient because you pay with your phone – even if, like with Venmo, it’s more expensive than cash. We don’t expect this to get a lot of media coverage because reporters are more likely covering other finance topics including crypto, blockchain, NFTs and FinTechs — even though we think most readers won’t fully understand blockchain and NFTs (us included). But we do expect the percentage of cashless transactions to significantly increase except for the elderly and the unbanked poor. What this means: The big problem with going even 90% cashless is if you lose your phone or if there’s a blackout since cashless doesn’t work without electricity. Tangentially connected to the future of money because it is an alternate, but increasingly frequent, way for companies to go public, Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs), essentially shell companies, will get a lot of coverage, too, but much of it will be negative. 
  5. Streaming could mean the end of cable and movie theaters. In part due to the pandemic, streaming services have proliferated and millions more signed up. Pundits have been proclaiming the end of cable for a decade but it’s probably not a coincidence that cable use declined to 50% over the last year. We also think that steaming will further erode movie theaters’ business because with a few exceptions, staying home to watch a movie is easier and less expensive. What this means: We think the media will cover the streaming wars because there’s only so many services that consumers can subscribe to – but we remain confident that there won’t be any consolidation until 2023. We also expect the media to cover the health of movie theaters and other entertainment venues; that said, we think there’s an ongoing market for sports, live performances and that arenas and theaters will continue to attract audiences as long as the risks for going out into a crowd are minimized.
  6. Smart homes devices will finally be able to communicate with devices from other manufacturers. One of the challenges of IoT and smart homes is that Google, Apple and Amazon’s technologies don’t interoperate with each other. Meaning: if you have a lock that works only with an iPhone, new owners who have an Android may need to replace the lock with an Android-friendly app. What this means: Just as the media is interested in the future of work, they’ll be interested in the future of the home. We expect the media to look at Matter, an interoperable platform/standard to allow devices from different manufacturers to communicate together.
  7. Electric cars still have a way to go. Although President Biden’s goal is to have 50% of all cars sold by 2030 be electric, we’re going to need significant changes in eight short years. What that means: Many electric cars have a range of 300 miles but that won’t work for long road trips, and there aren’t even enough EV charging stations in most cities. It will also be a problem given the current shortage of automotive semiconductors because we will certainly need more of them.
  8. Getting around cities will be slower, more complicated. Meanwhile, some cities are getting overrun by scooters, e-bikes and Citi Bikes, which were intended to improve transportation solutions inside a city, as well as by more people using delivery services to get food, groceries and other supplies, clogging streets, bike lanes and sidewalks. And in some cities, Citi Bike racks take up space that used to be parking spots for cars, reducing that valuable space while cars must circle to find an open spot. What this means: This is another area where infrastructure investments will be important. As for too-many scooters, we expect cities to look at regulating the number of scooters while promoting scooters as a sustainable alternative to using cars or even public transportation.
  9. Space will seem a bit further in 2022. With the exception of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, most of the top billionaires went into space in 2021. We don’t think there will be additional U.S. billionaires starting their own space companies. We do expect more space exploration by private companies, however. What this means: Continued interest in the space economy that is just taking off.
  10. Automation and robots will be more visible. To adjust to fewer workers, more companies will look to automate processes, using artificial intelligence (AI) and robots. Expect more stores to offer self-checkout (if they didn’t before), which may include AI-enabled cashierless technology. What this means: Once jobs are automated, it’s hard to go back. That said, at each inflection point, some jobs disappear – like the people who used buggy whips and those who made buggy whips – but are replaced by other jobs.

As always, we will evaluate how we did later on in December though we may decide to issue a midterm report in July, too. 

In the meantime, let us know what think — if you agree or disagree. Thanks for reading!

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Related Posts