FJORD
TRENDS
2020

Ready, reset, reinvent:
the emerging trends in
business, tech and design

AccentureInteractive
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In brief

  • Capitalism is evolving. People are becoming increasingly conscious and hyper-aware of how their purchases affect others and Earth’s resources.
  • Growth for profit alone will fade away as people demand products and services that are personally meaningful and socially and environmentally beneficial.
  • 5G technology will create a wealth of exciting opportunities for new products and services. Delivering faster data speeds than ever before, 5G will help brands optimize the relationship between people and machines.
  • The focus of design is transitioning from “me” to “we.” Design will shift to cast its net beyond the end user alone, pivoting from user-centered design to design for all life.
  • Brands with a long-term, forward-looking view that care for the planet and people — and the causes that matter to them — will emerge as winners.

Business unusual

Economics and politics, capitalism and resources, technology and society – all have long been entwined. But, recently, the consequences of that have burst into the public consciousness. And, this is fueled, ironically, by the very technologies that made such interconnectivity possible.

The clash between the technology industry and governments is resulting in widely felt tremors, as tech giants are seen as having too much power. Meanwhile, there is still disagreement around who should be held accountable for their actions.

2020’s meta-trend represents a major realignment of the fundamentals. It is tempting to misunderstand this as a gloomy picture. Instead, we feel this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to innovate business models, services and products around new definitions of value.

One thing is likely: Those who embrace the long-term view — starting with their impact on the world and society and embracing the systemic complexity of the world — will emerge as winners.

As you explore the trends, consider the questions they ignite – for the future of business, technology and design, and the world. The curiosity, concerns and actions they inspire will shape how brands serve people for the decades ahead.

We believe the following trends will be the most important for organizations, customers, employees and stakeholders over the next 12 months and beyond.

Each year, Fjord — Accenture Interactive’s design and innovation practice — crowdsources trends for the coming year from its global network of 1,200 creatives in 33 studios. With new studios opening across Latin America and Japan, this year’s Fjord Trends are the most closely connected yet, telling a comprehensive story about our landscape and what’s coming next.

META-TREND

Realigning the fundamentals

In a world grappling with climate change and constant political and social disruption, people are more aware than ever of how their purchases affect others and Earth’s resources. People are demanding products and services that are not only meaningful to them, but also socially and environmentally responsible.

Meanwhile, technology continues to fuel unprecedented change. Now it’s morphing the shape of money, creating virtual doubles and rendering our bodies a form of signature.

What does all this mean for businesses and people? In short, a complete realignment of the fundamentals.

This is not a bad thing. In fact, we see this shift as a tremendous opportunity to reinvent business models, services and products to fit new definitions of value.

Profit as the sole metric — essentially growth for growth’s sake — will not be the ultimate decider of a company’s success. This realignment potentially leads to iconic innovation moving beyond the start-up realm. To catch up, businesses must work together to fuel disruption at an industry level.

The companies brave enough to recognize and respond to this meta-trend will experience many opportunities and challenges on their journey to transformation.

Here’s what we predict: as this shift takes hold in varying markets at different speeds, developed markets will likely reject endless material consumption in favor of balance and conservation.

Ultimately, the winners will be businesses that consciously consider their impact on an ever-evolving climate, society and world.

TREND

01. Many faces of growth

For decades, companies have been laser-focused on one main objective: financial growth — the faster the better. Now, people are challenging organizations to define their success in more ways than financial growth, the long-established benchmark for prosperity. Today, companies must pursue a broader set of business objectives that are balanced with the reality that profit is critical for longevity. This opens the doors for opportunities to imagine entirely new ways to create and sustain value.

For decades, companies have been laser-focused on one main objective: financial growth — the faster the better. Now, people are challenging organizations to define their success in more ways than financial growth, the long-established benchmark for prosperity. Today, companies must pursue a broader set of business objectives that are balanced with the reality that profit is critical for longevity. This opens the doors for opportunities to imagine entirely new ways to create and sustain value.

This trend is about embracing a much more comprehensive range of success metrics, and about re-examining the long-held belief that the bottom line is important above all else. This is why companies must work differently, responsibly and imaginatively.

Investors, customers and employers are putting pressure on organizations to respond to changing societal values, concerns about climate change and finite natural resources, and economic and political instability.

As a result, business success metrics and economic models will naturally evolve. Shareholders will increasingly demand environmental, social and corporate governance, and organizations will need to upskill staff at all levels. This is a positive call to redefine growth in new ways that improve our lives and our world.

The long-term health of free enterprise capitalism will depend on delivering profit with purpose.

Lionel Barber, Financial Times Editor In Chief

TREND

02. Money changers

As a result of massive leaps forward in technology, money itself is morphing. The very notion and shape of money is rapidly evolving, along with our perceptions of it.

As a result of massive leaps forward in technology, money itself is morphing. The very notion and shape of money is rapidly evolving, along with our perceptions of it.

Digital money is faster and more efficient. The world is becoming cashless. People can now pay using their fingerprints and via facial and retinal recognition. Over time, our personal information and data will become embedded in money, enabling for seamless payment experiences. The personalized payment possibilities are endless.

13%

of Swedish people recall using cash for a recent purchase, while in the U.S., 30% no longer use cash in a standard week.

Imagine applying a student discount automatically at the point of purchase because a person’s student status is embedded into their money. Shifts like these will empower us to do more than just buy things. They will create opportunities for a new stream of products and services.

This trend is about how our relationship with money is evolving. As it further develops, we’ll see the evolution of new ecosystems set in motion by non-traditional financial companies. Almost invisible payment systems will emerge, rendering our connections to and feelings about money more ambiguous.

As these changes unfold in the months and years ahead, they will deeply impact every individual or organization involved in every financial transaction.

$2T

in-store and remote transactions — via mobile biometrics that are expected to be authenticated in 2023.

What does this mean for businesses? They'll need to elevate their payment experience and use it as a point of differentiation. And they’ll need to design products and services that address concerns about privacy, transparency and integrity while exceeding customer expectations.

TREND

03. Walking barcodes

With facial and body recognition on the rise, we’re leaving trackable personal data cookie trails everywhere we go — not just online. Advances in biometric tech and 5G are creating exciting opportunities for new products and services. As our physical features become increasingly machine-readable — just like human barcodes — brands will design new products and services that are more personalized than ever.

With facial and body recognition on the rise, we’re leaving trackable personal data cookie trails everywhere we go — not just online. Advances in biometric tech and 5G are creating exciting opportunities for new products and services. As our physical features become increasingly machine-readable — just like human barcodes — brands will design new products and services that are more personalized than ever.

This trend is about how our bodies are becoming our signature — effectively blending our digital and physical selves. It’s also about how living services — contextually-aware, sophisticated digital services — will segue from the digital world into the real world. Hyper-targeted customer experiences will become the norm in physical environments.

In entertainment, Disney piloted an interactive movie poster with Accenture Interactive. The AI-powered experience used photography and emotion recognition to enable a poster for the movie Dumbo, which could display a version of the movie poster that corresponded with the expression on the face of the person looking at it.

When developing new products and services, privacy and security must be prioritized above all else. Used responsibly, 5G, facial recognition and other biometric technology will unlock tremendous possibilities. The Internet of Bodies will become as normal as the Internet of Things. This will mean re-directing energy toward designing meaningful human moments instead of transactional stopgaps. Making the invisible handing over of data safe and worthwhile is a must for all people feeding the machine.

Render the unseen seen so people can understand when a scan, transaction or consent has taken place. Ensure that people can be the curators of their own personalized experiences by building a platform for people to express, discover, and receive what they want — subject to privacy laws like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

We’re not able to transmit touch and muscle movement through the internet, but we will with the low latency capabilities of 5G. We are now starting to build the devices which allow you to execute skills remotely.

Mischa Dohler, professor of wireless communications at King’s College London

TREND

04. Liquid people

In Many faces of growth, we present the vision that societal values are changing and societal forces and people-pressure are forcing businesses to rethink their focus on the old definitions of growth. Liquid people is the flipside of the same coin: it’s about people’s reassessment of themselves, the lives they lead, the work they do, and their impact on the world around them. This trend reflects the human side of growth. It takes into account that we're more aware than ever of issues like climate change, mental health and sustainability — and how they’re changing how we live, work and buy.

In Many faces of growth, we present the vision that societal values are changing and societal forces and people-pressure are forcing businesses to rethink their focus on the old definitions of growth. Liquid people is the flipside of the same coin: it’s about people’s reassessment of themselves, the lives they lead, the work they do, and their impact on the world around them. This trend reflects the human side of growth. It takes into account that we're more aware than ever of issues like climate change, mental health and sustainability — and how they’re changing how we live, work and buy.

Simply put, we’re more than what we do or buy. This is leading people to begin questioning what it means to be a person who buys things, and what it means to be an employee. What’s beyond consumerism? What’s beyond the notion of work as a means to earn a living?

While people still want to work and purchase things, they will no longer define themselves around their jobs and possessions. In response, businesses must redefine themselves, too. Organizations must recognize this evolution and support customers’ and employees’ increasingly liquid desires and their pursuit of deeper meaning in their daily lives.

Meat-eaters are starting to skip eating meat on weeknights. We emphasize “starting to” because, of course, many of us are still eating hamburgers, buying clothes that make us feel good, flying to interesting places, gazing at shiny new products and wondering if we can afford them (and often buying them regardless).

People’s priorities are becoming more fluid. They want more flexibility and freedom to buy what they desire — while also caring more than ever about their impact. And this consciousness rules the day.

1in5

people have reduced the number of flights they took over the past year due to climate impact awareness. (Swiss bank UBS)

Organizations can cater to people’s growing thirst for conscious consumption by providing guilt-free experiences, and by creating new ways to help people feel good about being who they are and doing what they do.

TREND

05. Designing intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is progressing. In the early stages, organizations used it to enhance efficiency through automation. In the future, AI will be more about augmenting human ingenuity and creating new value.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is progressing. In the early stages, organizations used it to enhance efficiency through automation. In the future, AI will be more about augmenting human ingenuity and creating new value.

When businesses effectively blend people’s skills with AI, we’ll be better positioned to build disruptive business strategies. AI will also empower people to navigate the increasing complexity of the workplace and strengthen the human experience.

This trend centers around how AI is expanding and blossoming as a helpful, collaborative technology. With more organizations seeking to use it beyond automation, they’ll need access to better and more dynamic tools, and to more carefully plan for AI’s social and economic impacts. To succeed, business leaders need to commit to designing for human intelligence and optimize the relationship between people and machines.

While AI helps us better understand business, design is helping us understand AI. A critical factor as, across industries, more and more business decisions are being managed by algorithms. Some organizations are already researching ways to tackle potential bias issues. For example, Accenture’s algorithmic fairness tool uses Machine Learning (ML) to detect potentially biased training data and suggest ways to adjust for it.

Through Fjord’s work with The Dock (Accenture's flagship R&D and global innovation center in Dublin, Ireland), we’re also exploring how evolved intelligent design will dramatically affect how people work with AI to gain the best results. We’ve identified three key areas: Enhancing the human experience, empowering people in complex systems, and envisioning new products and services.

Businesses are accelerating their AI programs, with 80%
reporting that it’s now in production within their organization, yet customers and employees are wary of its impact on their lives.

TREND

06. Digital doubles

Digital twins like 3D and data models are the future. They are established tools in manufacturing and industry. Now, they’re getting personal. The race has begun to create virtual manifestations of ourselves: Digital doubles.

Digital twins like 3D and data models are the future. They are established tools in manufacturing and industry. Now, they’re getting personal. The race has begun to create virtual manifestations of ourselves: Digital doubles.

In the beginning, digital doubles will open up a whole new world of personalized entertainment opportunities. Eventually, it is probable that they will become a virtual home for all of our data, a single digital gatekeeper to our personal lives, over which we’ll have control (in theory, at least). People will likely soon use digital doubles to serve their own interests over those of third parties who gather and use their personal data.

With digital twins evolving to become all about us, brands and public services must learn how to design for them. Organizations in financial services, healthcare and the workplace will increasingly recognize digital doubles as essential tools to predict, optimize and personalize customer solutions. And that has the power to change everything.

Businesses that want to succeed must ask themselves two critical questions: How can we show people that they can trust us with their personal digital twins? How can we design digital double customer experiences that are safe, secure and engaging?

TREND

07. Life-centered design

Our wants and needs are changing. People are shifting from a “me” to a “we” culture and they want their purchases to reflect the social, environmental and political causes they care about.

Our wants and needs are changing. People are shifting from a “me” to a “we” culture and they want their purchases to reflect the social, environmental and political causes they care about.

What does that mean for businesses? They need to radically redesign their business models, adapting to life-centered design – inspired by writer John Thackara’s theory of designing not just for human life, but for all life (i.e. the entire planet).

This trend is about how the perfect overlap between the traditional Venn diagram of desirability, feasibility and viability is changing — along with organizations’ design responses to them. This evolution requires a logical solution: a shift to life-centered design.

Until now, human- and user-centered design has often separated people from ecosystems. Now, designers must begin to address people as part of a greater ecosystem, as opposed to being at the center of everything. To successfully make this shift, they’ll need to embrace a broader, more holistic systems mindset. Designing for two sets of values — personal and collective — will be critical.

70%

boost in profits that iconic shoemaker Dr. Martens saw when it introduced a vegan range of footwear made from synthetic material.

CONCLUSION

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How the reset will work in 2020

In 2020, we will know more and care more about our world and our impact on it than ever before. What is important to us will be increasingly reflected in all areas of business, technology and design. This opens the doors to unprecedented opportunities for innovative and responsive organizations to better serve people — and truly thrive in business — in ways never before possible.

Success will come to brands that increasingly create new and meaningful value for individuals in our constantly evolving world, effectively blending purpose with profit. In doing so, companies will help their customers navigate changing views around consumption by delivering intelligent, ethical and engaging experiences.

This realignment of the fundamentals leads to innovation moving beyond start-ups in favor of more traditional businesses who will need to work together to make change happen at an industry-wide level.

We might also see a two-speed model emerging as this shift takes place at different paces in different markets. Emerging markets might just leap-frog more developed markets’ attitudes toward endless consumption and go straight for a more balanced view. Meanwhile, people will continue to be ever more fluid in their behaviors, constantly switching between traditional demographic segments in often surprising and contradictory ways.

However these new realities unfold, Fjord Trends 2020 reveal that tomorrow’s success stories will likely belong to organizations that welcome and take positive forward action on the long-term view. Those that design for all life in an ever-complex world — with their impact on the planet and society top of mind — will thrive, now and in the future.

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