The business trends for 2023
Every year, we reach out to talented experts within BCU to provide us with their hints and tips for the year ahead. It’s an opportunity to hear exciting predictions, plan ahead for key challenges and learn what businesses are preparing for.
Experts in psychology, sustainability, economics and more all provide key insight to help you get ready for what 2023 has to offer.
1). Employers still searching for that sweet spot
Craig Jackson, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology
Working from home has clearly triggered something in many workers. They realised that there was a different way to work, utilising technology more and commuting to the workplace less. The Great Resignation that followed proves this.
Many businesses have introduced hybrid working but are still trying to see how it can work best.
While some attest to it hitting a ‘Goldilocks zone’ of perfection – particularly young employees keen for social interaction and collaboration – others are not so sure.
One thing is for certain – colleagues are seeing less of their colleagues in person. Social gatherings are dwindling, with people preferring to work from home on a Friday rather than go for a post-work trip to the pub.
Add unreliable public transport and industrial disputes to the mix and suddenly work has become less ‘fun’ for many.
Organisations are keeping an eye on how this more insular workplace may pan out for competitors within their sectors.
Although research suggests the four-day working week is not detrimental to business, some organisations may resist this as much as they can.
This many encourage staff who had a taste of something better to choose work elsewhere, which makes recruitment even more difficult for those change-resistant companies.
2). Enhance leadership relationships
Alexandros Psychogios, Professor in International Human Resource Management
This isn’t just a business trend for 2023, it’s a key tip for the future.
Strong leadership relationships dramatically increase leadership effectiveness. I argue that leaders are not Homo Economicus (Rational Human Beings) anymore, but they should think and act as Homo Relationalis (Relational Human Beings).
No leader can inspire action if others do not connect with them in deep and meaningful ways. To connect, leaders have to fully appreciate the socially based origins of consciousness. They also need to adopt a ‘collaborate first and then reciprocate’ attitude in business interactions.
Strong leader-follower relations are built and nurtured through communication.
Communication is about creating a desired response. We need to ‘speak’ to all three main brain functions – think, feel and do – to induce meaningful behavioural change.
We need to direct rationality and tweak the environment for desired habits.
Relational Leaders should utilise their brain’s tendency for imitation. This will create and maintain an effective human network, both through strong and weak ties, that will elevate their leadership status.
We need to enhance the art of clicking with other people by demonstrating presence, warmth and strength.
3). Live long and local
Beverley Nielsen, Associate Professor and Senior Fellow, Centre for Brexit Studies (BCU)
Brexit, Covid-19, the war in Ukraine and other natural disasters have disrupted both supply chains and energy security.
Thus, many companies are onshoring. This means transferring a business operation that had been moved overseas back to its original country.
It’s a vital part of companies looking to increase their resilience and, in the process, reduce their CO2 footprint.
This business trend for 2023 – and beyond – has already been evident across the automotive and engineering sectors.
Furthermore, companies should look to design products with end-of-life (EOL) value.
The EOL phase begins when a product is disposed of. It is reused, remanufactured or repurposed as something entirely different.
Customers have significantly increased their focus on opting for low carbon emission modes of transport, reducing their meat consumption and buying just what they need.
Compared to 2021, more and more people have chosen brands with environmentally sustainable values and paid extra for more durable products (according to Deloitte).
4). It’s time to dig deep
Steve McCabe, Associate Professor
Politics – which hugely influence the economy – are certainly more settled under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. We have a PM who intimately understands financial systems and money markets.
After the chaos of Liz Truss, Sunak appreciates the criticality of stability. Nonetheless, considerable economic ‘headwinds’ confront Sunak.
Inflation, at its highest rate since the early 1980s, will stay well in excess of the Bank of England’s 2% target for 2023. Interest rates, a mere tenth of a percent just over a year ago, are currently 3.5% and likely to rise again.
Energy prices, which rose so dramatically last year as a consequence of Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, are falling.
Households, whose budgets are squeezed, are likely to reduce expenditure. In a country so dependent on the service sector, this will act as a drag on economic growth.
Many businesses are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, plus the rise in energy and labour costs. Therefore, they will hope to experience the stability that Sunak and his party crave.
The UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) continues to create challenges and are resulting in increased costs for materials and labour. Resolution of our trading relationship with the EU is essential.
The potential for global slowdown is ominously likely.
Business confidence, essential in deciding to invest, is unlikely to increase markedly this year.
Many businesses will merely look to survive and for hope better times.
In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis affecting all but the wealthy, raising prices – though necessary to match input costs – is problematic.
As always, resilience through agility in dealing with uncertainty, matched with ability to innovate in maintaining customer loyalty, as well as capturing new ones, will be the characteristics of businesses which survive.
5). Digital marketing to be safe but smart
Mark Brill, Course Leader: MA Creativity, Making and Innovation Practice
Will ChatGPT replace content writers? That seems to be the hottest question right now in the world of marketing. The short answer is no.
While large language models (LLM) such as ChatGPT are delivering some acceptable writing, it lacks that depth, subtlety and cognition of a human. It can write content, but it can’t write compelling content.
What it does do is help marketers to work smarter. Think Google search meets Grammarly.
With a number of economic pressures, 2023 will be a year of consolidation for marketers. There will be a move away from riskier platforms.
Twitter’s advertising revenues have already fallen, but brands will move also move away from TikTok.
Although it’s been shown to be an effective channel, new moves in the US to ban or limit the app is likely to reduce the appeal to advertisers.
The focus will inevitably be towards the established channels of Google and Meta.
One platform to watch this year is Amazon Advertising.
Although principally a merchant channel, 2022 saw greater growth than any other digital platform and although still much smaller, it sits third, behind Google and Meta in terms of revenue.
If you would like further support to ensure that your business’ 2023 is as successful as it can be, gain further insights and open avenues to funding opportunities, why not get a free business analysis report?