Top Business Trends for 2020: What to Watch

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From climate change to digital privacy, consulting firm Propeller highlights what’s on businesses’ radars

From planning for the impacts of climate change to protecting digital privacy, businesses will face a number of challenges heading into 2020.

From planning for the impacts of climate change to protecting digital privacy, businesses will face a number of challenges heading into 2020. Nationally recognized consulting firm Propeller announced today four trends on businesses’ radars.

Planning for the impacts of climate change
From wildfire threats to massive flooding, this was another year of severe weather. Businesses were faced with the reality of not only creating disaster response plans but also putting them into action. The bottom line: some businesses just weren’t ready.

In 2020, look for businesses to focus more on:

  • Disaster response plans and processes.
  • Risk mitigation programs to reduce the impact of natural disasters.
  • Systems to provide better situational awareness.

“The reality of climate change and its impacts puts additional urgency on the need for periodic testing and dry runs to ensure organizations are ready,” said Jeff Foley, chief operating officer of Propeller. “This includes not only IT systems but also people and processes.”

Reacting to trade threats
As the trade war continues, companies that outsource manufacturing to China — which occurs across a wide range of industries — are feeling the brunt of tariffs levied on imported goods. In 2020, look for companies to continue assessing the total cost and time of moving manufacturing to other countries. The challenge? It’s a long and costly process, so they must guess how long the tariffs will be in place and whether a move is worth the cost.

Ensuring data privacy as companies push toward personalization
Businesses continue to strive to personalize shopping and buying experiences for consumers, whether it be driving buying behavior at a retailer, recommending a movie or encouraging someone to eat or exercise in a specific way that’s most suited to their needs. Why? Because these personalized experiences and recommendations move the needle.

However, in a time of scrutiny around how data is being used, organizations will need to be transparent around the data they’re collecting, how data is being used, how it benefits the customer in making educated decisions, the ability to opt-out or delete data, and assurance data is being used in an ethical way.

Humanizing virtual experiences in the workplace
With a growing number of workers telecommuting — more than 60 percent of workers spend time working remotely at least once a month — companies continue to fine tune workers’ experience outside the office and explore how virtual and augmented reality can provide in-the-field training without being on location.

In 2020, look for companies to continue exploring:

  • How to foster professional — and personal — cohesion among remote employees, who may sometimes feel isolated or lonely. Strategies include encouraging “video-on” as a best practice to increase engagement, co-working spaces, using message boards, or helping to create “water cooler moments” by encouraging peer-to-peer coffee or lunch meetups.
  • Using virtual and augmented reality for training, which increases learning and lowers travel costs. In the coming years, look for employers to use virtual reality to train workers on unconscious bias and sexual harassment, customer service and public speaking, as well as to simulate high-stakes or life-threatening situations.

About Propeller:
Propeller is a nationally recognized consulting firm that helps clients bring simpler, more efficient solutions to their business challenges. Propeller consultants work alongside client teams to deliver project management, business consulting and change management results that help them nimbly negotiate rapidly evolving business demands. Propeller has offices in Portland, Oregon; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; and Silicon Valley. For more information, visit

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Jenni Jayne
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