Pandemic turns business models upside down, says Fjord Trends report

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The pandemic has resulted in a collective shift in people's relationship with work.
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  • The rising individualism underlined by a “me over we” mentality has profound implications for organizations in how they lead their employees.
  • The metaverse will be a new frontier of the internet, combining all the existing layers of information, interfaces, and spaces with which people interact.

Nearly two years of disruption to the fabric of society due to global pandemic has resulted in a collective shift in people’s relationships with work, consumerism, technology, and the planet, pushing companies to design new ways of doing business, according to the annual Fjord Trends report from Accenture.

Newly identified behaviors will challenge businesses to rethink their approach to design, innovation, and growth as a result of the shifts in employee expectations and mindset, scarcity caused by disrupted supply chains, and new virtual environments such as the metaverse, it said.

“Don’t underestimate the degree of relationship change we are seeing — or the role of business in responding to it,” said Mark Curtis, head of global innovation and thought leadership at Accenture Interactive.

“The choices that businesses make next might affect our world and its structure in more ways than we can imagine, and it all points to shifts in people’s relationships — with colleagues, brands, society, places, and with those they care about. There are challenging times ahead, but also great opportunities for businesses to stitch together positive relationships to create a fabric of life that is good for people, society, and the planet,” he added.

Fjord Trends 2022 dives into five human behaviors and trends bound to affect society, culture, and business:

Come as you are: The growing sense of agency that people have over their lives two years into the pandemic is affecting the way they work, relate, and consume. People are questioning who they are and what matters to them. The rising individualism underlined by a “me over we” mentality has profound implications for organizations in how they lead their employees, how they shape a new employee value proposition, and how they nurture company-customer relationships.

The end of abundance thinking? Over the past year, many have experienced empty shelves, rising energy bills, and shortages in everyday services. While supply chain shortages might be a temporary challenge, the impact will persist and lead to a shift in ‘abundance thinking’ – built on availability, convenience and speed – to greater consciousness about the environment. Businesses must address the availability anxiety experienced by many around the world.

The next frontier: A cultural explosion waiting to happen, the metaverse will be a new frontier of the internet, combining all the existing layers of information, interfaces, and spaces with which people interact. It offers a new place to make money, is creating new job types, and offers infinite brand possibilities that people will expect businesses to help build and navigate. And it won’t just exist through screens and headsets — it will also be about real-world experiences and places that interact with the digital world.

This much is true: People now expect to ask and have questions answered at the touch of a button or through a brief exchange with a voice assistant. The fact that it’s so easy and immediate means people are asking more questions. For brands, the range of customer questions and the number of channels for asking them is growing constantly. How to answer them is a major design challenge, a critical driver for trust, and a future source of competitive advantage.

Handle with care: Care became more prominent this past year in all its forms: self-care, care for others, the service of care, and the channels to deliver care, both digital and physical. This is creating opportunities and challenges for employers and brands, regardless of their health or medical credentials. The responsibilities around caring for ourselves and others will continue to be prioritized in our lives. Designers and businesses alike need to make space for being able to practice care.

“As consumers overhaul all of their relationships, brands will be faced with two big responsibilities: taking care of the world today while also building its future in a way that’s good for the planet, for business and for society,” said David Droga, CEO and creative chairman of Accenture Interactive.

“The key lies within deeply understanding the impacts of those relationships and aspirations and converting them into potent business strategies that drive relevance and growth,” he concluded.

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