Afiniti Insights

The Business Change Trends You Need to Consider in 2024

We’ve all heard the old cliché: change is the only constant. True as it is, we don’t tend to think about how business change itself evolves and transforms; a range of factors influence an organisation’s strategic goals, and therefore the change projects they undertake to achieve them.

So, to give you an idea of what’s to come in 2024, we asked our partners to share the business change trends and influences that they’re seeing daily during their work on the frontline of transformation.  

We also asked our partners to share their personal advice for senior leaders and those roles driving change. Read the insight here to get their guidance.

Be more agile

2023 has seen external economic and market factors introduce added complexity to new and ongoing projects, particularly around investment and supply chains. To effectively respond to this, in 2024 organisations will need to adopt an agile mindset so they can react and adapt, rather than stagnate.

If recent years have taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected, and an agile approach will help you to be comfortable making progress among the unknown and uncertain. You should also work to build your team’s change readiness so that when adjustment is required, whether proactive or reactive, your people will be quicker and more willing to embrace the change.

Amid external pressures, the focus is often on the bottom line, as it should be. But you can’t forget about growing the top line, and you’ve got to have the right people, processes and tools to do that.

Afiniti works closely with the energy sector, which has had to respond to the Energy Profits Levy in 2023 and will continue to do so for the next five years. This has drawn a line between essential vs nice-to-have projects. For example, many energy companies need to upgrade their ERPs to SAP S/4HANA before support ends in 2027. This deadline is fast approaching, and migration is a major project, so those companies can’t waste too much time; agile players that can still advance their strategic goals will come out on top.

Everyone’s talking about AI

Including us! AI tools have captured huge attention this year and inspired a great deal of business change. Their momentum will only continue to increase in 2024, and organisations that embed the right, relevant solutions for their goals will have an advantage over competitors that don’t.

Google Trends shows consistent month-on-month growth in AI search volume in 2023

However, it’s important not to get caught up in the hype and rush into rolling out your AI solution. Not only do you need to strategically assess and identify the best tool for your specific requirements, but you also need to manage your data to power it.

Think about the data maturity of your organisation. This doesn’t solely refer to the quality of your cold, hard data; it also includes the tools, processes and, most importantly, the people that support it. Are these all mature enough to allow you to achieve the optimal results and ROI from your AI investment?

For example, in one of our specialist industries, life sciences, data underpins everything, from R&D to development and device diagnostics. Standardising and structuring data and content is essential to enable automation, and this is a transformation in itself. But the work pays off because ultimately, the achievement of joined-up, accessible data across functions will allow life sciences companies to capitalise on AI to significantly improve outcomes and value for patients.  

The sustainability opportunity

Sustainable practices and policies will move higher up the agenda next year, as the regulatory and reputational influences in this space favour those organisations that embrace ESG goals.

Outside of the obvious global and societal benefits of sustainability, forward-thinking organisations see the opportunities present, including enhanced competitiveness, customer loyalty and supply chain resilience.

But becoming a sustainable business inevitably requires change, so we expect to see even more projects initiated in this area in 2024. Our consultants advise thinking outside the box when it comes to green initiatives, looking holistically across your business for opportunities rather than going all in on one area. For example, our rail consultants have helped clients to take a multi-modal approach to achieving net zero; it’s no good for just one piece of the transport network to be green if the rest isn’t, so a whole systems thinking approach needs to be employed.

Some things never change

Whether it’s adapting to external factors, embracing AI or becoming more sustainable, major transformation will likely be needed. The key trend that all of our consultants are seeing is the ever-growing need to put people at the heart of these changes.

More than ever, organisations need to build strong people-change capability. True transformation impacts your entire business, so your people need to be capable of changing that whole system. That means engaging them with your project, telling its story and bringing them on the journey with you.

Whatever your strategic goals, if you’re kicking off new projects to achieve them in 2024, then positive people change should be high on your agenda.

Get in touch with our team to find out more about business change trends and how we might be able to help.

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