A glittery 2020

Want Success in 2020? These 3 Trends Should Inform Your Strategy

By Beth R. Chase

January 8, 2020

Welcome to a New Decade

A new year, and new decade, is here. With a new year comes the opportunity to consider fresh trends. Leaders are positioning to drive their organizations’ strategies to realization in 2020, and below are three key trends we see impacting organizations this year.

1. Resolve Uncertainty by Conducting Scenario Planning

None of us can predict the future. Across industries, leaders are seeking ways to take advantage of potential disruption, while protecting their organizations from the risks inherent in doing business in our rapidly changing world.

Many leaders we partner with are hedging their strategic bets by scenario planning. Leadership teams are leveraging their unique experiences and collective expertise to discern signal from noise. Teams then build out future hypotheses, assessing external trends, considering competitive environments, and evaluating rising customer expectations. These hypotheses can then be refined into relevant scenarios, initiating the kinds of strategic planning necessary to define where leaders expect their organizations to successfully perform as future possibilities become present realities.

Most importantly, scenario planning reduces our tendency to expect future events to unfold similarly to the way that they have in the past. This misleading mindset has left a lot of organizations scratching their heads in the face of disruption.

2. Place Customer Focus at the Center by Understanding the Data

The past 20 years saw the acceleration of digital experience, and this acceleration has increased customer expectations across every brand interaction, from the first website impression through product and service delivery. Customers in this new decade will expect increasing responsiveness and personalization. Research from Salesforce reveals 84% of customers expect the experience provided by companies to be just as important as their products and services.[1] If the overall experience does not match their expectations for quality, they can simply take their business elsewhere.

Technology, a force for disruption and innovation across industries, has positioned organizations at a crossroads: how can firms place the customer squarely at the center and work differently to deliver greater value?

The answer lies in fully capturing, understanding, and leveraging customer data to drive the kinds of insightful interactions necessary to both delight customers and deliver maximum value. This requires a digital strategy designed to capture critical data insights with the flexibility and scalability created by an integrated technology platform and optimized processes across business functions and systems.

In short, it is hard (and rewarding) work that will lead to both happy customers and increased top-line growth.

3. Create a Culture of Success for Tomorrow’s World

Whether we are partnering with VC or PE-backed growth firms or mature F500 companies, organizational culture is critical to successful strategic execution. Strategy drives organizations into the future, and culture provides the framework of values, norms, and behaviors needed to align organizations for ongoing strategic execution.

Successful organizations recognize that culture is not siloed to the HR function. All leaders, and their teams, must engage with culture and its role in strategy. For example, a culture rooted in following defined, stable rules may struggle to embrace strategies designed to increase adaptability and change responsiveness. Leaders should recognize the impact their organization’s culture will have on strategy, and the steps necessary to align (and keep aligning) teams impacted.

As a reminder, much like 2019, companies will continue to see a talent shortage in the face of an already tight labor market. Leaders are facing the tension of executing strategy with insufficient talent, demonstrated by the fact that upwards of 59% of high-priority strategic initiatives lack the talent necessary for success.[2] Leaders must be prepared to critically assess current and required talent to bridge the gap between strategy and successful execution.

Taking on the New Year

In our partnerships with clients across industries and growth stages, we are encountering transformative change occurring at an accelerating pace. Uncertainty is meeting its match with careful scenario planning, customer expectations are being fulfilled via digital transformation, and organizations are redefining how they leverage culture to drive value creation. These trends make for an exciting year ahead.


If you are tackling exciting challenges in 2020, want to learn more about driving strategy and value creation, or have other key trends you want to share, contact Strategy & Performance. We would love to hear from you.

[1] “State of the Connected Customer (3rd Edition),” Salesforce.com, 2019.
[2] The Economist Intelligence Unit, “Why Good Strategies Fail: Lessons for the C-Suite,” March 2013.