2022 Thought Leadership Agenda
As we usher in a new year—after a disruptive and tumultuous 2020-21—businesses are looking to understand the trends and developments that will drive performance in the year to come and over the longer term. Digital transformation and the impacts of the pandemic will persist, but deeper changes are occurring on the landscape, what we at ThoughtLab are calling The Big Shift. Among the top trends that we will be examining in depth as part of our research agenda are the following:
1. The X factor: Driving performance through total experience. The pandemic put customer and worker experience front and center for all businesses. Going forward, the most successful firms will be those that integrate customer and employee experiences into seamless customer life cycles and employee workflows. While total experience takes different forms across industries, for most firms, it requires harnessing latest technologies, such as AI, cloud, RPA, and IoT, and developing new business models, incentives, and measurements around experience. This study will delve into the best practices of TX leaders and provide a valuable roadmap into how to generate a virtuous cycle of value between more engaged employees and happier customers.
2. Competing in a digital-first marketplace. In a post-pandemic world, all companies need to be digital-first businesses to meet their customer demands and get work done. CEOs will want to think beyond improving processes and driving efficiencies through technology; they will need to reimagine their companies as digital-first businesses whose growth strategies, customer and employee experiences, and business models all revolve around digital innovation. Our research will look at the progress firms are making to become digital-first businesses and identify what digital-first leaders are doing to supercharge their performance and drive their Industry 4.0 growth strategy.
3. AI-powered business performance. In Industry 4.0, AI will be as essential for doing business as electricity was in the third industrial era. The pandemic accelerated investment in AI, as firms harnessed AI to make better and more secure use of data and drive agility, efficiency, and performance across every part of their business, from customer experiences to back-office operations. For AI leaders, RPA and ML are already table stakes; they are focusing on more specialized techniques, such as deep learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and quantum computing, as well as using AI in conjunction with other technologies, such as IoT, blockchain, and cloud. The research will explore the roadmap to AI excellence and how leaders turn AI into ROI, while ensuring a responsible, human-centered approach.
4. Profits with purpose: Harnessing technology to drive ESG agendas. The pandemic has been a wake-up call for businesses to think, act, and invest for the common good. But the roadmap to becoming a high-performing, purpose-driven organization is still not clear to many management teams. ThoughtLab will develop a ground-breaking research program and an analytical framework to help organizations use technology to drive sustainability and social innovation to meet the need of customers, investors, employees, and regulators. The research will examine the social innovation practices, plans, and performance results of organizations around the world. Crucially, it will reveal which businesses and industries are making the most progress toward achieving their social and sustainability goals, including the steps they are taking and the impact on overall business performance.
5. The hyperconnected company. Because of advances in IoT, telecoms, and other technologies, a new world of connectivity is emerging. IDC predicts that by 2025 there will be 55.7 billion connected devices worldwide. The impact on business will be enormous: IoT will not just enable firms to reinvent products, services, and business processes, but also will provide them with massive volumes of new data that can be used to make better business decisions, predict trends, build new servitization models, and serve customers better. Hyperconnected leaders interconnect multiple areas of their business, from supply chains and ecosystems to products and services, and customers and communities. This pioneering study will provide executives with a blueprint for becoming a leader in a hyperconnected world where ecosystems and technology can drive competitiveness.
6. The path to net zero. As the world copes with the ongoing pandemic, government and business are turning their attention to a longer-term catastrophic event: climate change. The UN Climate Change Conference in November represented a key moment for government leaders to discuss and agree on ways to avoid environmental disaster. But government action is not enough: the scale of the problem requires the proactive involvement of business to close major gaps in key carbon-intensive processes, sectors, products, and services. The adoption of innovative technology, from renewable power generation and electric vehicles to smart waste management and cellular agriculture, holds the key to radical improvement, but only if corporate leaders build an effective roadmap to decarbonization, supported by a full understanding of the best practices and cost-benefits. Our research will provide such a roadmap with statistical evidence and executive insights into what leaders are doing to achieve net zero.
7. The future of distance. The ongoing pandemic is forcing companies to rethink how they will run their businesses in the years ahead. The need for continued social distancing poses a particular challenge to consumer-facing sectors, such as retail, tourism, and entertainment, which traditionally relied on the economics of density, where unit costs fall, and revenues grow with footfall. For such firms, technology will come to the rescue. For example, “Just Walk Out” technology, pioneered by Amazon, uses a combination of sensors, computer vision, and AI to allow cashier-less transactions. But even B2B enterprises will need to change how they work. Workers in one country can operate a remote factory in another through the deft combination of virtual reality, robotics, and AI. Blockchain technologies are speeding up tracing of products across supply chains. Instant language translation technologies, both text-based and verbal, are enabling entrepreneurs to break into markets that were previously inaccessible because of language barriers.
8. Reinventing the supply chain in a post-pandemic world. The supply chain shock during the pandemic disrupted production and demand and created crippling product shortages in many world economies. Executives across industries are taking a fresh look at their supply chains to assess vulnerabilities and take steps to mitigate risks and ensure greater resilience in the future. These steps include diversifying supply networks, building end-to-end visibility, harnessing AI and automation to streamline processes, conducting third-party cybersecurity assessments, and creating more agile approaches able to sense and respond in real time to customer demands and production capacity. This much-needed study will help companies build more resilient, demand-driven supply chains that can deliver on customer needs while withstanding future shocks.
9. Roadmap to recovery: How cities will rebuild and finance their future. As cities continue to work through the devastating repercussions of the pandemic, ensuring a safe, sustainable, and prosperous future for citizens has become their highest priority--but also their biggest challenge. With urban leaders now turning their attention to post-pandemic recovery, they need effective action plans for rebuilding their cities to address the new realities of living, working, traveling, and doing business in cities. These plans should include clearly defined steps to drive sustainability, embrace social inclusion, rethink mobility, rebuild infrastructure, harness smart technology, ensure data security and privacy, and build resilience and trust. The research will provide city leaders with an actionable blueprint for driving transformation across urban domains, including how best to work with the private sector and finance new sources of funding to deliver on future goals.
For more information about our upcoming research agenda and how you can participate, contact Barry Rutizer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Research Initiatives
Cybersecurity Solutions for a Riskier Digital World, How business and government can protect themselves in the emerging cyber pandemic.
With the shift to digital business amplifying cybersecurity vulnerabilities, cybercrime reaching new heights, and cybersecurity skills in short supply, management teams need actionable insights into how to weather the brewing cyber storm.
Visit our Cybersecurity Solutions for a Riskier Digital World microsite to learn more.
Building a Smart Cities 4.0 Roadmap,How urban leaders will make their cities more sustainable, resilient, secure, and fit for purpose in a digital-first world.
Building a Smart Cities 4.0 Roadmap will expand on last year’s Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World research by exploring how 200 cities—across regions, population sizes, income levels, and economic development—are using technology and other levers of change across urban domains to build back their operations in a more sustainable, resilient, and secure way. Our evidence-based analysis will answer these critical questions
Visit our Smart Cities microsite to learn more.
Wealth and Asset Management 4.0: How digital, social, and economic trends will transform the investment industry
The pandemic has been a watershed event for the wealth industry, accelerating dramatic changes in investor attitudes, behaviors, and expectations. Our study reveals six key megatrends that will alter the course of the Industry. These profound shifts have overturned conventional wisdom about investors. To succeed in this marketplace, wealth and asset management firms will need to shift from a product- to a customer-centric approach—focusing on the person, not the demographic. That will require reimagining their client segmentation and go-to-market strategies, as well as their range of products, services, and pricing models.
Visit our microsite on this program to learn more.
Successful thought leadership is a team sport, requiring close collaboration and the right blend of analytical, editorial, and marketing skills. For more information on how you can join these in-depth programs, please contact us today.