As our summer holidays wind down, European leaders feel stuck in an odd economic and geopolitical no-man’s-land. Many of the important signals we ordinarily use to plan for the year ahead are pointing in ambiguous, counterintuitive, or contradictory directions. To name a few: 1) Prices remain high, but inflation is subsiding, and the EU expects inflation of 3.1% in 2024 (which is far better than the estimate of 6.7% for the full year 2023); 2) the Ukrainian counteroffensive is slowly pushing forward; 3) European natural gas storage sits at a reassuring 89% as of August 2023, but high demand may drive costs skyward even if this winter proves mild; and 4) European tech spending will grow by just 3.6% in 2023 (in Euros). If you add to all of that the specter of a faltering Chinese economy, it’s easy to fall prey to an excess of caution or even to paralysis.

That would be a mistake. The odd mix of signals contains both dark clouds and flashes of sunlight, and European leaders who plan and invest cannily can take advantage of the opportunities.

To help you plan in this unsettled environment, we have produced Forrester’s 2024 Planning Guides. They provide detailed guidance for technology, customer experience, digital, marketing, sales, and product leaders on where to invest, pull back, and strategically experiment to drive growth in the coming year. (Our 14 Planning Guides are available for clients here; nonclients can read our overarching report with links to select guides here.)

For European business leaders, here are a few specific actions to prioritize:

  • Stop relying so heavily on digital services providers. In the next year, European digital leaders expect their firms to spend a whopping average of 28% of their organization’s digital budget on services. Outsourcing can fill immediate needs, but your firm’s survival and competitiveness hinge on developing in-house expertise. As you review each of your digital service providers, ask yourself whether that provider can become a more valuable co-innovation partner. If not, wean yourself off that provider. And for your truly strategic services providers, evolve to outcomes-based contract terms.
  • Hire a revenue operations leader to drive alignment and growth. For organizations with established sales and marketing operations functions, revenue operations is neither a reshuffling of existing capabilities nor the insertion of a new level of hierarchy into a leadership structure — it’s an additive effort that harnesses operational resources, improves the buyer experience, and drives predictable growth. Ultimately, a revenue operations leader delivers customer value through tighter alignment between traditionally siloed disciplines.
  • Use TuringBots to build software faster, better, and cheaper. TuringBots, AI that assists development teams in being more productive across the end-to-end software development lifecycle, are maturing fast. Maturity and adoption in areas such as coding, testing, and deployment is happening in real time. Technology leaders should invest in TuringBots to build higher-quality custom software and deliver faster to differentiate the business and propel it forward.

Our 2024 Planning Guides explore these recommendations in greater depth and provide additional insights to inform your planning and budgeting. Explore our overarching report and other Planning Guide resources to navigate this turbulent planning season with confidence.