2024 Resolutions: Means vs. Ends - A Business Leader's Perspective

5 Minutes

We’re almost through the first quarter of 2024, and the airwaves are still buzzing with predictions about the major trends that will dominate our business landscape. Consultants, advisors, and thought leaders offer a plethora of “means” to navigate this complex terrain – AI, digital transformation, sustainability… the list goes on. But amidst this information overload, a crucial question arises: are these experts truly addressing the “ends” that matter most to business leaders?

This analysis summarises the major trends identified in various industry publications, providing a comprehensive business outlook for 2024 – the “means”.

Seven Key Themes – The “means”

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI): The emergence of Generative AI is a dominant theme, impacting all business functions. Experts emphasise the need for proactive integration of AI at the core of operations, not as an afterthought.
  2. Economic Landscape: Prolonged high-interest rates and inflation in the first half of the year, coupled with slower progress, necessitate strategic adaptation for businesses to maintain growth.
  3. Sustainability: Environmental and social sustainability require significant investments. Businesses are urged to accelerate their transition and embed climate change initiatives into their core strategies.
  4. Talent Acquisition: The ongoing “war for talent” necessitates focused strategies to attract and retain top talent for business success.
  5. Digital Transformation: Leveraging technology for intelligent automation and digital transformation is critical to avoid falling behind competitors.
  6. Geopolitical Risks: Potential disruptions due to global conflict are anticipated, impacting supply chains, resources, and energy prices. Companies need to build resilience to weather these challenges, particularly in a year with widespread global elections.
  7. Data Management: Publications highlight the importance of data as a distinct focus area beyond digital transformation. Businesses should prioritise data security, governance, and utilisation for informed decision-making.

However, our analysis of industry publications reveals a disconnect between the “means” prescribed (above) and the “ends” desired by executives. While the predictions paint a picture of necessary transformations, they often neglect the fundamental question: what do we realistically want to achieve this year?  

Executives crave practical guidance on achieving specific outcomes, not just a list of challenges and technologies.

The “ends”

Here’s a closer look at the “ends” driving business leaders in 2024:

  1. Fit-for-Purpose Operating Models: Businesses need to ensure their core structures are adaptable and efficient in a volatile environment. Leaders must prioritise reforming their operating models, to remain competitive and building a solid foundation before layering on technology.
  2. Cost Control and Efficiency: Reducing costs and driving efficiency are paramount in a challenging economic climate. While AI promises automation, executives seek immediate solutions like streamlined processes and improved productivity, especially in the post-pandemic hybrid work model.
  3. Balancing Sustainability and Stakeholder Value: Executives acknowledge the importance of climate change and responsible practices, but concerns about regulatory burdens and cost implications often overshadow immediate action. Strategic investments are prioritised when balancing sustainability with stakeholder expectations.
  4. Navigating Regulatory Burdens: Overregulation is seen as a major hurdle, adding costs and hindering agility. Businesses seek a more balanced approach that ensures compliance while fostering innovation and customer satisfaction.
  5. Customer Centricity at its Core: Attracting and retaining customers in a competitive landscape remains a top priority. Businesses must go beyond cost-cutting, focusing on quality, ethical practices, and a seamless customer experience.
  6. Building Resilience for the Future: Adaptability and robustness are crucial in today’s ever-changing world. Executives see AI and other trends as potential tools, but not the only answer. Nurturing internal innovation and building resilience across all dimensions is key.

The takeaway? Business leaders are actively strategising, but they prioritise practicality and outcomes over theoretical trends. They crave guidance on how to achieve their specific goals, not just a list of “what” to do. In this uncertain environment, focusing on building capacity, formulating clear strategies, and delivering tangible results will be key to success.

So, what about you? Are you focusing on the “means” or the “ends” in your 2024 resolutions?


Contact us