2020 Trends & Predictions

A new decade is upon us, and that means this year’s annual outlooks are going to be bigger than ever before. In the past 10 years, we’ve seen exponential changes occur in business, technology, and society. What big changes are around the corner for 2020 and beyond? We’ve compiled a list of predictions from some of our leading keynote speakers on the big trends that are set to move the needle within their area of expertise. As we’ve seen in past years, many of these big changes have a ripple effect across industries, so be sure to read them all! We’ll continue to update this story through the year. 


Trends for 2020 - Jesse Hirsh

Technology Trends

From The Eyes of a Futurist

Digital strategist Jesse Hirsh on what technology-based opportunities you should look to embrace:

1. TikTok will rule in 2020

In an age of machine learning, TikTok combines all the right features of AI, automation, big data, and conspiracy to win, and potentially win large. What strikes me as particularly significant with TikTok is how responsive the algorithm is. When you start using the app, this content may come across as juvenile, or superficial, because that’s a lot of the default popular stuff. Yet part of what makes the app remarkable is just how quickly that default content is replaced by content that adapts to your usage. Where other platforms focus on and prioritize engagement, TikTok rewards attention.

In this regard, TikTok is definitely fueling the narcissistic desire to be famous. In part because TikTok seems to be the sole social media platform where fame is kinda accessible. And it’s not just kids. Just about every profession out there has someone using TikTok to promote their work. Perhaps that’s why TikTok is poised to win in 2020.

2. Quantum Computing Rises

What exactly is Quantum computing, and why should the average person care? The difference between the computing we know and quantum computing lies in the foundation of how computers work. The shift is from bits (1s and 0s) to qubits, which are more fluid, as instead of it being either 1 or 0 it can also be both. For example, is he a father, or a son? Is he old or is he young? It depends who’s asking!?

One of the advantages of quantum computing is that it can perform really large calculations. Perhaps the one that is most anticipated and feared, are calculations to break or reverse encryption. This is perhaps the biggest reason quantum computing gets the attention that it does, and also why the average person should care: the fear that it will end privacy and security as we currently know it.

3. The Rise of Social Credit Systems

One of the primary by-products of algorithms is social hierarchies. This is the social effect of the algorithm (to rank and sort). Everyone gets a score, everything gets placed in a category.

Thriving within our digital infrastructure is a wide range of social credit systems, assigned scores, and accumulated status. It’s easy for us to see the visible examples of YouTubers, Instagram Influencers, Twitter celebs, and Twitch stars, but the reality is that all users of all platforms and apps have scores. Combine this with the concept that each of us has a digital shadow (a data trail that we generate whenever we do anything digital). This data follows us, even if it goes dormant for a time. 

What if that digital shadow, over time, becomes more unified. What if all the scores we’ve been assigned, on all the sites, apps, and platforms we’ve used, slowly but surely merge and aggregate into one? I imagine this convergence of our digital shadow as happening at some point in the near future.

I think it’s important we take a critical look at the rise of social credit systems. As neither bad nor good, but rather emergent. Not inevitable mind you, but already here, and in need of a critical assessment.

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Customer Service Trends

A People-First Approach

As a partner in the restaurant brands Baro and Petty Cash, customer experience speaker Michel Falcon has championed ‘People First Culture’ and it has lead to wildly successful results for his businesses. His message encourages leaders to put their experience at the core of their decision making. Michel outlined three customer service skills, strategies, and mindsets to incorporate for 2020:

1. The New “Everyone Is A Customer” Mentality

“Being in hospitality, it’s easy for our team to consider the guest who orders the $300.00 bottle of wine to be our #1 priority. But, for me, that’s not an authentic People-First Culture business. If we truly want to be People-First, then everyone, literally everyone, who interacts with our business needs to be served like they just ordered a top-shelf bottle of wine” says Michel.

Michel includes some often overlooked individuals who might interact with brands but still require an exceptional experience, including future employees, business vendors, investors, media and government. Since these individuals might interact with non-frontline staff, it’s important that every single person on your payroll must receive customer experience training.

2. Defensive vs. Offensive Customer Personality Types

“When delivering experiences from customer to customer, you need to ensure you don’t deliver the same experience to everyone the exact same way. I call this “switching gears.”… Defensive customer service requires active listening to understand what the customer’s goals are. Once that’s understood, then we switch gears and move into offensive customer service and act on what our customer’s desires are.”

3. Role Reversal Leadership

“I believe all leaders, across all departments, should spend time every month with their customer care and frontline employees. Not only will they gain valuable insights, but you will also notice a spike in morale and a deeper connection between ‘the higher-ups and the frontline staff.'”

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Read more on these three customer service skills on his blog.



Workplace & Happiness Trends

A happy way to boost your bottom line

Jennifer Moss is the Cofounder of Plasticity Labs, a happiness research, technology, and consulting company. Her groundbreaking work on the power of happiness is transforming companies all over the globe. Her recent CBC News column looked back at what we are learning about happiness and what it means for the year ahead. 

1. Opening up about mental health

Awareness of topics like mental health and mental illness increased, and this benefits society as a whole, stating that “people were openly debating how to portray these once-forbidden topics in such a public way that it has slowly started to normalize the conversation…As people struggle to make sense of events, it creates conversations, which also help to destigmatize taboo topics.”

2. A Focus on Burnout

In her most popular 2019 HBR article, Jennifer notes how “for decades, the term “burnout” has been deprioritized — wrongly accused of being some made-up, first-world crisis, most likely drummed up by millennials and Gen Zers who want more work-life balance. The truth is, the younger workforce has it right. And as they increase the demand for more meaningful work (even claiming they’ll take 32% less pay for the trade-off), burnout — specifically purpose-driven burnout — will continue to be a growing concern. In a Gallup survey of 7,500 full-time employees, 23% reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while 63% said they experience it sometimes.”

Leaders will be tasked with developing solutions to prevent purpose-driven employees in their own organizations from suffering burnout. 

3. ‘IRL will become a movement’

“People are feeling overwhelmed with such a massive increase in digital consumption and have started to push back. In the next decade, we will have a rebellion — a harkening back to the old ways.”

4. Changes in Policy

A growing number of people are voicing concerns about the overconsumption – specifically within youth – of social media and digital technology. Jennifer notes that “kids are exercising less and aren’t getting enough face-time with their peers which means less authentic social connections…Advocates in government, both in the US and Canada, have suggested that tech companies need to take more ownership of the problem. Most would like to see more regulations on tech companies to stop addictive design and reduce screen time.”

5. A shift in values

“Global hope has declined by 13 points in the last four years and the world is feeling it… I see our priorities shift from valuing money to more time. This will change how we work, where we work, whether we’ll take on debt that ties us to work.

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Food Trends

We’ve gotta eat, right?

Known in the industry as ‘The Food Professor,’ Sylvain Charlebois is the media’s go-to-commentator on agricultural and food policy. He brings a trove of data-backed insights on a sector that affects each and every one of us. Here’s Sylvain’s 2020 food outlook via an interview with CTV.

1. Products to become more naturalized

2019 was the year of ‘beyond meat’ as vegan-friendly alternatives broke through and saw a higher degree of mainstream appeal: Tim Hortons, A&W, Harveys and Burger King all sold these types of products. But the price and the number of additives in the products dissuaded many. 

Sylvain says that “instead of seeing 27 ingredients, we are expecting products to actually become more naturalized with fewer than 15 ingredients, so they’ll be healthier and likely cheaper as well.”

2. A boom in Cannabis edibles

Canada made cannabis-based edibles legal in October, but the need for regulatory approval by the provinces prevented mass-adoption right off the bat (BC, ON & AB will all have products available for sale by mid-January).  

“More people that have been smoking — inhaling — cannabis will likely try the edible version of cannabis as legal edibles roll out.”

3. Food Buying Made Easier

“We are expecting grocers to empower customers in their stores in 2020 to use A.I. as much as possible… Most grocers have an app you can download and you can bid on products and you can save 25 to 60 percent,”

Sylvain also noted that growth in the use of food delivery apps over 2019 will continue. We might even see more  “ghost kitchens” – small footprint restaurants that rely on apps such as Uber Eats, Foodora, and Door Dash to distribute their food rather than traditional dining spaces. 

4. Lab-grown foods are primed to hit the market

Not to be confused with Beyond Meat and other plant-based food companies, lab-grown foods are created in labs by taking cells of an animal and growing them in a nutrient-rich system. 

“We do expect 2020 to be the first year in which customers will be able to choose a food product that wasn’t made out of a plant or an animal…Investors are pushing for this and most of the money is non-(agricultural) money and they’re really motivated to provide food products that are different.”

5. Rising Cost of Food

In December, Sylvain’s team at Dalhouise forecasted that food prices would increase an average of 4 percent in 2020 (which is double the rate of inflation). They noted that this means almost $500 added to the annual grocery bill of Canadian families. 

How will this change habits? Sylvain says customers will “Look at flyers, they’ll use coupons, they’ll try to educate themselves in terms of how much things cost…Carrots, for example, might be more expensive in January than in June.”

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We hope these predictions help you in considering your strategy for 2020 and beyond. If you found these insights valuable, we encourage you to follow these speakers on twitter to continue to get more insights: @MichelFalcon, @sharleb, and @JenLeighMoss

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