Planning Ahead: 3 Business Trends to Watch

Valued Contributor


Industry standards are changing as technology evolves and new generations become vital stakeholders in the workplace and marketplace. With the next generation preparing to take center stage, we began our search to find which significant business trends are on the horizon and would revolutionize how we work.

Based on trend forecasts, census reports, and survey data, we discovered three trends that the next generation is focused on, starting with: how and where they work, and the ability to customize products as they like. The last emerging business trend is a focus on Connected Planning; we are seeing an emphasis from businesses on the need for increasing cross-department functionality and maintaining agility within the organization. 

So what do these trends mean for you? Let's dive in and find out how you can use this knowledge to stay ahead of your competition: 

Trend 1: Transitions in the Workforce

Gen Y has started to transform the workforce with their need for flexibility and their entrepreneurial spirit. Company loyalty is being exchanged for the freedom of "gig" or contract positions. According to the Office for National Statistics, 15 percent of all people working are currently self-employed, which based on the 2017 census report amounts to 14 million people.manny-pantoja-603276-unsplash.jpg

Technology improvements have made it easy to get started in the "gig" economy. In 2017, the total workforce grew 2.5 percent, while the freelance workforce far exceeded that with a growth of 8.1 percent. Some workers become self-employed due to a lack of other options. Others, typically in younger generations, are drawn to self-employment for the flexibility it offers, which is cited among the most desired non-monetary benefits for workers. 

Industries have started to evolve in order to capitalize on this fast-growing entrepreneurial ideology. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Etsy have created hubs to fuel flexibility and allow workers to enjoy self-employment with a bit more predictability.

So the big question on everyone's mind: How do I attract talent and plan for an invisible workforce?

  • Anaplan's Take: Our Director of Recruiting, Pete Lawson, adds "The on-demand economy is changing the way people work. The overall addressable talent pool for the on-demand workforce has grown so significantly that organizations need to start planning how they incorporate that talent market to the growth of their business." Lawson believes employers now have an important question to ask themselves, "'What, if any, roles am I willing to create an opportunity for a potential on-demand worker to plug into?' In my experience and what I have seen from the market, it is worth even having the conversation around this as there is some great talent to be acquired in this current market." 
  • Actionable Tip: Pete Lawson recommends "When planning next year's headcount, it is a good idea to audit the addressable on-demand talent market to assess whether or not you are missing out on an opportunity to leverage this growing talent pool. By looking at the types of on-demand workers in the market against the growth plans for your organization, you have created a starting point for a conversation around whether or not you are planning for this hiring correctly."

More about Connected Planning:

Trend 2: The Customization Craze 

In Mary Meeker's 2018 Internet Trends report, she shared that there is a continued call for consumer personalization. While monogrammed items are nothing new, there is a considerable push for product personalization in just about every industry. Customers now expect everything to be customizable, from clothing to laptops to virtual experiences, all delivered in 48 hours or less.

rawpixel-477808-unsplash.jpgWith so many products and purchasing options available to them, and a marketplace that promises increasingly instant gratification, consumers are driving change by expecting to get exactly what they want as soon as they ask for it. Companies are even beginning to build their offerings around instant personalization through tailored subscription services—customized "boxes" delivered by specific dates every month.

Cornell University researchers estimate that consumers make 35,000 decisions within a given 24-hour period. How do you ensure that you stand out? You deliver not only a custom solution to their product needs but also a personalized experience. Customers aren't just looking for an on-demand option; they also want to feel like they are the only customer you are marketing to. It's now about the experience.

With all of the personalized item requests, how can you plan for large-scale customization stock without going out of business? 

  • Anaplan's Take: Anaplan Accelerate Principal, Eric Lange, suggests utilizing Connected Planning to take the guesswork out of your supply chain planning. “The speed of business has changed. When your organization moves to a Connected Planning way of thinking you’re able to manage demand, supply, distribution, with your financial needs in perspective, in real-time.” According to Eric, “Switching the mindset from only volume-based planning to value-based decision making is a game-changer. Planners and executives can now make timely and critical supply chain planning decisions at the speed of business with the top and bottom line in focus."
  • Actionable Tip: Obaid Ghani, our Director of Global Presales Operations, suggests that your first step is to “Re-evaluate how your aligned volume forecast interacts with the supply side of the business. Ask your team: ‘What is the gap between investigating current data and interpreting real-time trends?' and 'What is our process for demand changes?’” Answering these questions and taking a good look at your business process will help you determine the financial impact of recent trends and make the best decision.

Trend 3: Connected Planning

Connected Planning has grown from an idea to a movement and is continuing to spread from industry to industry. But what exactly is Connected Planning? We're glad you asked. 

“Connected Planning joins together people, data, and plans to help accelerate better business performance. Connected Planning breaks down information silos to eliminate any inefficiencies in financial planning, corporate planning, and operational planning." - Anaplan 

This summer, we realized something was missing in our company: a C-suite champion who would make sure there is a comprehensive, yet flexible, governance system, ensuring people are using the same language and the same set of central assumptions. This gap led to the creation of a department dedicated to Connected Planning.

rawpixel-603653-unsplash.jpgAnaplan CEO Frank Calderoni quickly recognized this massive industry shift. "It requires a C-Suite leader," he wrote, "who intimately understands the value of Connected Planning, can adjust to the external forces behind any transformational journey, and who possesses the ability to connect all the dots across an enterprise. This new role will revolutionize how businesses think about their plans when it comes to increasing profits faster, when to enter markets globally, and how to provide better services to their customers." 

Simon Tucker, planning industry veteran and previously Anaplan's Chief Customer Officer, has stepped into the role of Chief Planning Officer (CPO) at Anaplan. In his new position, Simon will continue to grow Connected Planning throughout Anaplan, developing a successful showcase for implementing it within any other organization. 

Companies around the globe are shifting how they run their businesses; silos are coming down and connected plans between departments are spreading. In light of this need for greater planning, communication, and collaboration, what is the first step to starting your planning governance committee?

  • Anaplan's Take: Communication and collaboration is the first step on your Connected Planning journey. According to Simon, “Communicating at a high level and sharing data with our broader [connected] teams is the most important step towards successful Connected Planning. The more areas of the business that are involved and have insight into how each other is operating, the clearer the path to everyone’s goals become.”
  • Actionable Tip: Build a governance committee with a member of each department and have them meet on a regular cadence to share high-level plans and discuss how they can help each other. 

What do you think of these new business trends? Has your organization started preparing for them or incorporating them into your business plan? Or maybe there is a different trend that is top of mind for your company. Share your thoughts below in the comments.

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